A lovely surprise when I got home from work on Thursday, a £50 voucher from the kind people at Engage Magazine to spend in Eldon Square was lying on my doormat. I’ve won a competition apparently, or at least I’ve had my name picked out of a hat. It put Heather and me in a good mood for our evening on the Toon on Friday, a departure for us because we’re normally in bed for 9pm.
The New Year’s Eve before last Heather and I celebrated by going to see two shows at the The Sage. One was The New Rope String Band in the late afternoon, then we popped over the Millennium Bridge for supper on Newcastle Quayside, before returning for an Abba Tribute thing later on. As we were walking back over the bridge I heard a chap say to his partner, “Look at all this, just stand and look at this view. We get all of it for free you know.” I knew what he meant. I’ve been for meals and coffees along the banks of the Thames a few times and it’s really ordinary. The scene that awaits you on Newcastle and Gateshead Quays, particularly during the hours of darkness is a truly beautiful one, and because Heather and I only live six miles away we don’t always make the most of it. We had tickets for Mixtape North East at The Live Theatre on Friday evening. My brother came up over the weekend to look after Mum, and I instantly agreed to Heather’s brilliant suggestion that instead of going home after the theatre, we book into a hotel and make a night of it.
We both failed dismally to get a single correct answer when we saw Mixtape No.1’s last month. I’m quite knowledgeable about music, but it’s a knowledge that starts in 1930 and ends in 1976. The Mixtapers are a talented bunch of young actors who perform bite size plays, all of which have been inspired by a musical number. The plays can be shorter, but not longer, than the songs they’re derived from, and only the words that are in the song can be used. The audience has to work out the name of the song and/or the artist and write down the answers. On Friday the theme was North East musicians. I use the term ‘musicians’ loosely, because one of the answers we got wrong was “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” by Ant and Dec, but you get the idea. This time I was determined to win, and so I spent all of Friday lunch time cramming on the internet, looking up North East Artists and checking out the lyrics to their songs. Heather was furious with me for smuggling entire song sheets into the theatre, accusing me of cheating. I don’t consider it cheating, anyone could do the same and it didn’t help us anyway, we only got eight answers right out of a possible 20 or so. The Mixtapers are; James Barton, Samantha Bell, Amy Foley, Chris Foley, Zoe Hakin, and Steven Blackshaw. On Friday there were three other actors, equally as talented whom I hadn’t seen before, Adam Doaldson, Lewis Jobson and Katie Powell. Unfortunately I can’t find links for their names. Mixtape isn’t on stage again until 2015 and I highly recommend going to see it whatever the theme is. It’s an entertaining (and very different) way to spend an evening, and at £5 per ticket nicely affordable too.
We enjoyed a lie in on Saturday, then on checking out of our hotel we visited The Baltic. Heather hadn’t been before, and the last time I went was about ten years ago to see an exhibition by Beryl Cook. I always think that when you look at art, irrespective of whether you like it or not, it should at least be something that you couldn’t do yourself – something that someone with a real talent has created. I don’t have talent but I know how to fit a red light bulb. If the red room (pictured) isn’t to your taste you can always mosey on down to the gift shop where one of these weird little bunnies will set you back sixty five quid. Have they managed to sell any I wonder? I wish I knew.