Tyne twaddle: thin slices of Sunderland life through Newcastle eyes

… in which an intrepid Geordie penetrates the iron defences surrounding Sunderland and presents a brave account of life behind enemy lines. And he manages it all without seeing more than the Bridges centre, a pub and a bit of the museum …

Although he supports Newcastle United, Dave Eadevic may well be a decent lad, hard-working, loyal, good company over a pint, bright even. But he also fancies himself as a writer and I am not, if truth be told, looking forward to his first book.

If you are going to compose an epic article with the title Fear and Loathing in Sunderland, and make it stretch over two parts, you really do need to have something to say, even if the forum is no more than a Toon blog, Tyne Talk.

It was not, in itself, a bad idea. Imagine our own Pete Sixsmith suggesting something similar and writing about a visit to Newcastle upon Tyne. I would expect an account rich in humour, history and insight as well as a smattering of prejudice.

Dave does not, or did not on this occasion, rise to such levels of wit or wisdom, though his command of cliched prejudice is beyond reproach.

His self-imposed mission was to discover the town (“I will not call it a city” was meant as an insult; he probably does not know the thought is shared by many Sunderland supporters of a certain vintage who regard it still as part of County Durham).

And it could have been an amusing, even illuminating posting, as is clear from Dave’s own description of its origins:

It started like so many of these things, at the time of night where beer turns into whiskey and everything suddenly seems a great idea. I was busy explaining to a Sunderland fan everything that was wrong with his side, his city and if I remember correctly his life. When he supplied the comment of, “I bet you have never even been to Sunderland?”

“Of course I have, several times.”

“Not including Roker Park or the stadium of light? I mean Sunderland itself?” I allowed that he may have a point. I had never been to Sunderland.

Dave realised that he had passed 40 without having worked in Sunderland, gone to the place except for derby games or known anyone there. No one had ever said to him: “You know you should go to Sunderland.”

After a routine jibe about heading towards “the great unwashed masses” – odd how this kind of thing works both ways – he decides on the spot that Sunderland has suffered more than most from “whatever collective madness gripped architects in the sixties and seventies”.

There is mention of an ugly block of flats. But this is a sighting he makes before leaving the car park and could also have been made in almost any town or city I can think of. He appears to have done little more after that than wander around the Bridges centre, dislike the pint he was served while avoiding conversation in a pub and pass a bearded man wearing a Sunderland top and carrying a “Christ is the answer” sign.

But there was just enough time to visit the museum. Dave hints at his cultured outlook by saying this “wasn’t bad”. We do not actually learn why he thought so, beyond it having a raised walkway where he could “stroll among the tree tops and see the tops of people’s heads”.

Whatever else the museum had that impressed him, Dave is not letting on. Neither is he offering a single word to justify the title of his partwork. Or are we now in for Part Three, so far unannounced, where all – fear, loathing and a glimpse of Dave’s well-concealed powers of description – will be revealed? Nick Hornby had better watch out.

Monsieur Salut

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12 thoughts on “Tyne twaddle: thin slices of Sunderland life through Newcastle eyes”

  1. First I am the Dave, and no I normally don’t do these things but a 3rd part of this I suppose will be coming soon.

    In my limited defence, to take on several topics, first the title, it was actually part of a long series of articles, they were all called fear and loathing, it started in Birmingham, I was driving to an away game and one of my literary heroes died (hunter s Thompson, give him a go).

    Second it was not actually my decision to split it into 2 parts.

    Third yes, I didn’t take in much of Sunderland, that was meant to be the whole point of the article, I turn up I have a pint, I go and watch the football then leave, I observe the tiny bit that my mind takes in that day.

    I had this pointed out to me by the same mate that asked me to come in the first place, he invited me back and showed me around, and apart from having to be forced to watch a 3-0. I had a nice day, so yes here is the thing I will hurt every time you win us, as I hope you will as well, because I have decided after hanging out in Sunderland, what I really hate is those people that want all the north east sides to do well.

    Look after yourself lads, sorry about the rather tardy reply, but I’ve just had this pointed out to me.

  2. Sunderland taxpayers payers contributed massively towards Newcastle Airport, Eldon Square and the T&W Metro [which currently runs through the most thinly populated area of Wearside and is pure tokenism by a Tyneside centric project.] during the time of the now defunct Tyne and Wear County Council. Politicians and Councillors have failed miserably to fight Sunderland’s political corner on the local scene, thus Tyneside’s city centre/Quayside progression at the expense of Wearside.

  3. I lived in “the toon” for five years up to 1980, and quite liked it – only thumped once on football-related matters, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been shouting the odds in the Haymarket at midnight. Of the two town centres, the toon probably shades it because of the money thrown at it over the years, and despite John Bloody Hall and the Metro Centre. Spend the same amount of cash on Sunderland’s fine old buildings (please, before they fall down) and the results could be quite similar. Olivier is right about some of the locals in both places.
    Easy to go to any town with a gutful of prejudice and come up with a negative article. Just as easy to go with a psitive attitude and come up with a positive article

  4. I am French and have worked in both Sunderland and Newcatle cities, so have no pre ideas. My experience is both cities have lost all their cultural roots and are filled with unemployed Chav’s who live their life to drink, shop in charity shops and eat out of fast food outlets.
    The culture relies purely on the benifits handed out by the state and the mention of hard work has them all running for the nearest theme pub.
    If I had to choose one over the other city would be Newcastle as it seems to have more history and interesting people, usually not native to the area!

  5. The old step ladder quip eh! Can we look forward to the occasional table that is sometimes a chair joke in part 3?

  6. It is easy to have a go at many places for their perceived lack of beauty, especially those with an industrial heritage, but as Janis Ian and Jon Vezner wrote in their song “This Ole Town”- the heart of any town is the people that you’ve known.

    I shall go and read these articles in a minute but it’s easy to write an article based on one’s prejudices without doing any proper research or spending a decent amount of time there. I’m not expecting much after M. Salut’s article.

  7. IM a GEORDIE, who has supported SUNDERLAND for over 45 years.
    and i have never been to SUNDERLAND TOWN. Except for roker park and the stadium of light. ITS not town i support, but the team

  8. Yeah, i read the article in question and was very disappointed. Maybe someone could do the topic justice – in both directions?

  9. I picked up on both parts of the “article” which appeared 2/3 days apart.

    The only comment I can make is that he, obviously, understands the mentality of his target audience and it was incredibly “low brow” as a result of that!

  10. What a poor excuse for an article; I fear his delusions of being a writer are probably on par with your delusions of being a journo…

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