Where I live

Entrance to the Priory

The Castle, from the Priory

Bamburgh Castle, over on the mainland

Mum and Dad, in appropriate hats

Newcastle Vampire Rabbit – Update

Thank you to Andy Curtis for contacting me about the infamous vampire rabbit of Newcastle (above the churchyard doorway of the Cathedral Buildings, dating from 1901).
His theory is that it’s a hare, placed there by the architect William H Wood – a reference to Sir George Hare Philipson, who was a physician at the Newcastle Royal Infirmary, providing the vampire association.
Hare Philipson was also the founder of the University of Durham Masonic Lodge, and William H Wood was possibly a prominent freemason in the area. Hares appear in masonic symbolism.
It’s certainly the best theory I’ve come across, but I’m not sure we’ll ever fully solve this mystery of the demonic bunny.
Andy’s vampire rabbit photo and theory in full

Newcastle UFO

A UFO made a surprise appearance on a live TV news bulletin this week, on BBC1’s Look North, broadcast from Newcastle.
According to The Telegraph, it was a ‘streak of white light, shooting upwards at a forty-five degree angle, travelling at considerable speed’ and it appeared on live webcam footage of the Millennium Bridge and River Tyne (at 9.05 GMT on Wednesday 9 August 2009). The news presenter was unaware of it, but hundreds of viewers contacted the programme.
The object (or whatever it is) appears to accelerate and has no obvious surface features.
A former MoD UFO expert said, ‘At first I thought it was a bird, but the slowed down footage seems to rule this out. It’s an intriguing film and a genuine mystery.’
I’ve had a look at various web forums, and the latest theory seems to be that it’s possibly a rod – an insect, converted into a blurred probe-like flash by the camera. But the rod phenomenon normally applies to still images and to recordings, where the frame speed causes blurring – and this was live.
The only other explanation I can think of is that it’s a flare or laser of some sort, or perhaps an advance publicity stunt by nearby Baltic – but the Baltic programme for the next few months doesn’t seem to include anything UFOish or light-related.
Perhaps it was a UFO, returning from Newcastle, having been thwarted by the incomprehensible speech patterns and odd behaviour of the earthlings there.

Overheard in Newcastle Last Week

‘I see Gaza’s in the news again.’
‘Oh no. What’s he been up to this time?’

The Hairy Man of Lemington

a hairy man
I’ve always been intrigued by an old pub in Lemington near Newcastle which was officially called The Tyne Iron but was always known by locals as ‘The Hairy Man’. Why? I asked my Dad. And he found out.
Apparently, seals often swim down the Tyne (there are a lot in the Newburn area at the moment) and the landlord once found a dead seal on the river bank. He didn’t want it to have died in vain, and so he turned it into a nice furry waistcoat. From that day on, he was known as The Hairy Man – which also became a nickname for the pub. And the customers became known as … The Hairy Fairies.
The pub no longer exists, but I hope someone revives its nickname one day.

Durham in the Snow

Durham always looks best from the train. Here it is, as seen by Boll and me on Monday.

Thai PM a Geordie

It’s reassuring to know that Thailand is now being run by a Geordie. New PM Abhisit Vejjajiva (a fine Geordie name) was born in Newcastle, supports Newcastle United and says he’d be a Toon Army striker if he wasn’t a politician.
His parents were lecturers at Newcastle University when he was born. He stayed in the UK when they returned to Bangkok, going to Eton, where he had Boris Johnson as a classmate.
The UK’s ambassador in Thailand Quinton Quayle (another fine Geordie name) recently presented him with a Newcastle strip with the number 27 on it, as he’s Thailand’s 27th prime minister.
Apparently, Mr Abhisit is known as ‘Mark’ to his friends and has several nicknames, including ‘Obamark’ and ‘The Handsome Big’.

Windscreen Wipers – 100 Today

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear windscreen wipers
Happy Birthday to you
A 100 years ago today, wealthy Newcastle photographer Gladstone Adams drove from Newcastle to London to watch a Newcastle United game.
While he was at the match, his car was put on display as motorcars were a great rarity then.
On the way home, there was a blizzard, and poor Gladstone kept having to get out to wipe his windscreen.
This gave him an idea. Why not invent automatic wipers? He did, and patented them in 1911.
Yet another wondrous invention from Newcastle.