A GEORDIE IN LONDONTOWN

Our production assistant Rich recently moved all the way from Newcastle upon Tyne down to London to join us at LTP, so we thought it would be nice for him to write about his experiences living in a new city. This allows us to live vicariously through him and see everything afresh, as though for the first time. So here it is – the city from the Rich’s perspective, in his own words: A Geordie in Londontown.

Dog Date Afternoon

This week I secured myself a date with a London lady. After initial language barrier issues (I still haven't lost my accent), we hit it off and agreed to meet up. She wanted to go somewhere romantic, so I immediately booked a visit to the Retired Greyhound Trust at Whittingham Kennels.

In Newcastle I would attend around fifteen dog races a week, it being compulsory to attend, so this was my chance to impress her with my extensive canine knowledge:

“Did you know that greyhounds can go from zero to forty miles per hour in only a matter of seconds?” I asked. I could tell from her silence and the impassive look on her face - she was impressed!

We walked a team of greyhounds around Epping Forest and onto a hill that commanded spectacular views of Essex. Whilst I recited tips from the Greyhound Care Handbook (did you know they’re great with pensioners? me neither!) I noticed my date was constantly checking her phone. Doubtless she was messaging friends, bragging about the great afternoon she was having.

Our date finished with lunch at the kennels (I’d brought sandwiches because the cafe stops serving human food after three) then we were awarded with Greyhound goodie bags - chew toys and dog treats galore!

So my first taste of romance in London, much like a greyhound’s fur, went pretty smoothly. There’s also other kennels nearby, so that’s a second date all sorted.

Still haven't heard back from her yet though - she's probably just thinking of a cool way to say 'absolutely!'

 

Mo' Monet, Mo' Problems

My first week here I decided to involve myself in the city’s thriving art scene. The Royal Academy was holding an exhibition featuring some hot new painters, including a feisty young upstart named ‘Monet’.  I hotfooted it over on the tube and queued eagerly for tickets.

After haggling with the clerk over the entry cost, I entered the exhibit*. I was surprised to learn that more than one Monet painting was displayed and that apparently he’d done hundreds of them. Still, more Monet for your $$$, I suppose!**

I thought that his work was definitely better than most of the coal etchings I’d seen at the Paul Gascoigne National Gallery in Newcastle, but later on I saw that the paintings became increasingly blurry and indistinct – almost like an impression of the thing he was painting and not an accurate portrayal. I chalked this up to his sheer laziness as an artist.

In the final gallery I came across a rare ‘unfinished’ piece, and not wanting his work to go to waste, I took out my biro and began to fill in the rest of it myself. This angered the bouncers that the RA had paid to watch over the paintings, and I was subsequently banned from any attending any future exhibits.

And so, my first adventure in London ended with me being frogmarched through the gift shop and slapped with a hefty fine. At least now I know what it is to suffer for your art!

 

*Spoiler: I paid full price.

** Correction: I actually paid in pound sterling.

 

- You can still book tickets for the exhibition here - it's worth every penny.

Beginnings

Like most other Geordie people, until I moved down here, London was just something you read about at school. It was a whisper on the wind, an old wives’ tale, an absurd notion dreamt up by a mad wizard.

Many moons ago, I can remember sitting around the fire with my family as a child, listening to the radio and watching my Dad shovel fresh coal into the roaring flames after a hard day’s coalmining. As the embers from the fire danced hither and thither - chased by the family whippets, Ant and Dec - I can remember hearing a voice trickle out of the wireless and into my tiny Geordie ears.

“London! The city that everyone is talking about!” It said, in an exotic foreign accent I could barely understand (I later learned that the accent in question was from a place called ‘Cockney’).

“Father, will we ever visit the place they call London?” I asked.

“No, son. I’ve never been, your mother’s never been, and nor shall you. There’s nothing for us there. Remember the family motto: if it’s south of Middlesbrough, we’re not interested.”

I looked on, forlorn, as Ant and Dec quietly lapped up their Brown Ale in the corner. Whatever ‘London’ was, it wasn’t happening to me.

Fast forward a few moons, and there I was! Standing in King’s Cross station, with my suitcase and one hand and my cloth cap in the other. I had arrived. How, you ask? The folks at LTP had seen me perform at a Geordie travelling circus (my talent was reciting Paul Gascoigne’s career statistics from memory) and they decided to hire me as their production assistant!

In the welcome letter that LTP sent me, I read that I would have to go ‘underground’ in order to reach their offices in East London – this worried me because I’d left most of my mining equipment back in Newcastle. Not to be discouraged, I thought I’d find a local and ask them what to do:

“Evenin’ me auld cock-er-ney sparra!” I said in my best London accent, even though it was nine o'clock in the morning. “How does this underground malarkey work, then?”

“You’d take the Victoria line to Highbury and Islington, then from there take the Overground to Hackney Downs.” The local replied, in an accent that sounded nothing like the Ray Winstone movies I’d watched in preparation for moving away. “Now please get away from me, you’re getting coal dust all over my brogues.”


I followed my new friend’s instructions to the letter, except for the bit where I took the District line to Kew Gardens by accident, and soon enough I was there, ready to start my new life as a production assistant with LTP.