By Ben Pensant
I’m often asked if I have any advice for people planning to visit Newcastle. My answer is always the same: Don’t. Unless you’re a masochistic freak who actually enjoys the smell of blood, freezing your knackers off in July and running the gauntlet of Leave-voting hooligans every time you trek to the city-centre’s only Waitrose for a Guardian and a week’s supply of kale.
If that sounds unappealing then trust me – the reality’s even worse. Because if you don’t own a pit-bull or a microwave there’s nothing for you here. In fact, if it weren’t for Chi Onwurah there’d be nothing for me either. Chi, you may recall, is the brave Labour MP whose response to the recent child-grooming scandal was to say ‘nothing to do with Islam’ repeatedly while passionately denying there was any racial element whatsoever to Pakistani men calling teenage girls ‘white cunts’ before raping them.
Indeed, as a woman of colour Chi knows more than most about the racism and misogyny that infects the pasty-strewn streets of this bigoted hell-hole. (Unless of course that racism and misogyny comes from someone called Muhammad. Which it doesn’t so stop mentioning it you bloody fascist.) Even Newcastle Athletic were forced to put white stripes on their shirts just in case the knuckle-dragging natives were driven to bloodlust by an all-black strip.
You need only recall the chilly reception given to Reverend Malcolm Luther X when he visited Newcastle in the late ’70s to understand this ingrained hatred. Following a successful speech at Northumberland Trinity College in front of a crowd of rich hippies – at the time the only people in the north-east who’d seen a living breathing black man – Luther and his entourage were forced to barricade themselves inside a squalid café behind Haymarket bus-station. They then spent the rest of the afternoon being force-fed soggy stotty with no butter by the retarded owner while outside Geordie skinheads threw bananas at the window until they got bored and kicked fuck out of that tramp who looks like Mick Fleetwood and eats pigeons.
The police arrived hours later, sending the skinheads on their way with a clip around the ear before dragging Mick Fleetwood into the back of a van by his beard where he stayed in solitary confinement until his early ’90s comeback. Luther was adamant the ugly incident wouldn’t ruin his trip and even took pity on his aggressors, famously telling his chauffeur: ‘Aa don’t know who dose folks are but dey gotta devil in dem!’ before hightailing it back to Alabama, stopping off in Hexham to draw a cock on the Angel Of The North.
Luckily, before departing Luther allowed his Nation Of Islam heavies to put a curse on the city of Newcastle. It’s no coincidence that several decades later the peace-loving sect would get their deserved revenge by subjecting the daughters of those foul skinheads to a prolonged campaign of slavery and sexual assault. Payback’s a bitch, amirite?
Still, despite my obvious and not-at-all patronising affinity for black culture, its customs and patois – I’ve watched The Crosby Show and everything – it’s my sense of duty to the Labour heartlands that have kept me here. Though I sometimes wonder why I bother as it’s plain to see that the soul – and more importantly, the suffering – has been systematically ripped out of these once-proud communities.
Instead of poverty-stricken victims waiting for a millionaire socialist to wave his magic benefit wand, northern towns are now chock-full of ungrateful class traitors with the temerity to earn decent money, own houses and cars, go on holiday every year and generally behave like autonomous adults rather than passive stooges serving no purpose other than to hand votes to gentle Marxists dishing out free money and Turkey Twizzlers.
And thanks to them there’s little left here worth fighting for. Because no matter how often Owen Jones or David Lammy tell them, the working-class will NEVER listen to people who know better. It’s like a mental illness. And you only have to look at what happened in June 2016 to see where this stupidity leads.
Because the proles rejecting socialism was bad enough, but to reject the diversity, tolerance and undemocratic bureaucracy of the European Union is taking the piss. Luckily by some miracle Newcastle voted to Remain – just – thanks largely to a small but passionate minority of principled, educated progressives; the same walking artichokes in tight cardigans and designer specs who regularly give Lord Jezza a rousing reception every time he makes a trip to the north-east despite the fact he’s spent his entire career opposed to the EU.
Still, Jezza’s long history of Euroscepticism never stopped millions of brain surgeons in blue face paint voting for him. And it certainly hasn’t stopped them giving the Dear Leader a rousing reception every time he jumps on a ram-packed train to Toon to be greeted like a pop star by devout anti-capitalists with £500 iPhones tucked into the pockets of their Che Guevara hoodies.
Put simply, if it wasn’t for students, lecturers and the entitled offspring of rich civil servants from Gosforth and Tynemouth this place would have burnt to the ground decades ago. Which brings us to reformed Geordie and Hollywood starlet Andrea Riseborough, who last week made the front page of The Evening Chronicle after appearing on a US chat-show and waxing lyrical about how ghastly Newcastle is. Her diatribe was so joyous I almost petitioned Momentum to remove her name from The List for starring in vile anti-communist propaganda piece The Death Of Lenin. Almost.
I have no idea if Andrea is entitled or her parents rich, though she did once say that her mam and dad were ‘working-class Thatcherites’ – the worst kind of Thatcherites and the most evil members of the working-class. And while this shouldn’t be used as a black mark against Andrea, it does make me wonder why at no point during her childhood did she think to make the world a better place by suffocating them while they slept.
But she more than made up for such a glaring oversight with that appearance on The Late Show With Jimmy Kimble, in which she followed in the esteemed footsteps of Newcastle legends such as Stink and Jimmy Spender by turning her nose up at the grim, insignificant shit-hole from whence she came. Calling Tyneside ‘the armpit’ of Britain, she went on to describe in graphic detail the horror of Newcastle Brown Ale, that vile concoction drunk by denim-clad hate criminals with corned-beef necks and feet for hands:
‘I took an ex-boyfriend to Newcastle and he was like “the whole time I’m here I’m going to drink Brown Ale!”. We were in a theatre watching a play and halfway through he was like (stands up suddenly) and he had to jump over three rows. It just kind of sits there and ferments and then you’ve got to pee, you’ve got no choice’
You’d be forgiven for thinking Andrea was talking about Buckfast rather than syrupy bottled bitter weaker than a pint of Carling, but the effect it had on her beau just shows what happens when the theatre class try to mix it with the scum of the earth. I dread to think what fate befell him later that night but judging by some of the zombified states I’ve seen falling out of The Black Garter, needing a slash before the third act is the least of his worries.
Luckily, Andrea’s fella was clearly of good stock, a bottle of Dog more likely to give him a migraine than make him rip his shirt off and start a fight with a Metro. But he’s not the problem. Because despite being only 4.7%, the grim alchemy that occurs when Brown Ale is swallowed by poor people and lands on the undigested remains of cremated kebab meat is akin to throwing petrol on a bubbling chip-pan. And like cannibals used to guzzling raw flesh and dry bone, the constitution of the working-class man is so robustly animalistic that this ungodly smorgasboard barely gives him a stomach ache, even as it melts his already-mushy brain. I hope and pray Andrea’s ex hadn’t eaten any takeaways that night and made it out alive.
But even if he didn’t, thank god Andrea did. And with a home in LA it’s no wonder she’s so at ease chewing the fat with Kimble about how great California is and reliving terrifying memories of her bleak childhood at the hard-as-nails Church High girls’ school in dog-rough Jesmond.
Which couldn’t be further from the luxury in which she and Kimble now reside. As the genial host smugly put it while grilling Andrea for more information about the northern slum she was forced to grow up in: ‘It’s funny because you hear Newcastle and you think it’s some shining city on a hill’. Far from it, Jimmy. There are plenty of hills in Gateshead but the only thing you’ll find at the top of them is another hill. And if you do see something shining it won’t be a sparkly palace but the bald dome of the man who sticks a knife in your cheek and steals your jacket.
No, the only city that shines is Tinseltown, which not only has the warmest weather and whitest cocaine but the most principled people on earth. People like Jimmy, who was so horrified by the revelations that a seemingly decent Democrat like Harvey Weinstein was something of a sex-pest he avoided making jokes about it for a whole week.
And this is now Ms Riseborough’s world too – a word where no-one would dream of drinking something that rots their bladder, where no-one ever eats pigeons or pisses themself watching Hamilton, where the only thing as debauched as a night out on the Bigg Market is a night in with Bryan Singer.
Combined with the comfort of being surrounded by a coterie of secret junkies and liberal misogynists, it’s not hard to see why Brit actors are queuing up to embrace the most virtuous place on earth. And with barely enough out-and-proud right-wingers to fill a Klan meeting it sounds like the perfect safe space for a modern progressive. Indeed, I’m half tempted to take Andrea’s lead myself and forge a new life among people richer, happier and better than me. It’s just a shame I haven’t the slightest clue how to act, sell drugs or wait tables.
Still, under Corbyn’s government perhaps there’ll be hope for provincial dumps like Newcastle, a town so in tune with the zeitgeist its flagship newspaper ran a front page story about an actress appearing on a chat show in 2016. Failing that, he may take a rare leaf out of the Tories’ book and write off the area altogether like Thatcher did with Merseyside. At least that would get working-class Geordies back on the dole where they belong and give Jezza and co. some fresh victims to exploit and patronise. Hmm.
I’m staying put. Sorry Andrea, it appears home really is where the heart is. And when that home is five minute’s walk from the dole office it’s a no-brainer. The prospect of PM Corbyn sweeping to power and allowing me to carry on making that sacred journey every fortnight is just too good to pass up. In the words of President Jimmy Connors when he landed at Newcastle Airport in 1967 to retrieve Malcolm Luther X’s lost luggage:
HAAWAY THE LAADS!!