Ryton Festival is nearly here


CHAN 3118There’s a lot coming up in and around Ryton. The festival begins on Friday kicking off at 6.15pm in Emmaville Hall, Crawcrook.  They have a new-look website, click on the link to see what’s on Ryton Festival.  Do try to support this prestigious event – remember it belongs to us and Sir Thomas Allen and Wendy Craig (pictured above with Bette Davis) were once entrants.  From little acorns and all that ….. 

On Saturday evening we’re off to the The Cluny to see local band Sleeping Dogs. Band member Mike Soanes, from Ryton, tells me that Sleeping Dogs need a new name because there are already two bands with that moniker. They are offering a £25 prize to anyone who comes up with an original suggestion they later adopt. For further details find them on Facebook. Click here


In the novel “Fever Pitch”, by Nick Hornsby, the protagonist’s father advises him that settling upon which football team to support is a serious business – a decision not to be taken lightly and one best made in childhood. I came to football very late, and I’m often asked why it is that I support Arsenal. The reason is this.  In the late nineties I was at a charity function attended by a couple of celebrities, and I got chatting to one of them in the belief I was conversing with Jimmy Nail.

“Why is Jimmy Nail talking in a cockney accent?” I asked someone afterwards. “Because it’s not Jimmy Nail, you nit, it’s Tony Adams, the captain.”
“Captain of what?”
“Arsenal and England.”

A very short time later, less than a fortnight in fact, Arsenal were on terrestrial television in the FA Cup final, so curious to see what it was that the famous person I’d met actually did, I watched the match with my Dad. It was the first time I’d ever stayed with a game all the way through, so I began supporting Arsenal, and also non league Gateshead. There’s something old-fashioned and comforting about non and lower league football. It takes one back to a simpler age of Carry On films and three TV channels. The grounds still have terraces, affordable pies, and you can see the rest of the world over the tops and sides of the stands. They are clubs, not businesses. Sadly, there is sometimes still trouble, often from people (I won’t call them fans) who have been banned from league grounds. Last Tuesday evening Heather and I watched Gateshead play Eastleigh in baltic conditions, and it was great to chat to the half-dozen genuine Eastleigh fans who’d made the long journey to support their team.  Regrettably there were another twenty or so idiots from Eastleigh there too, completely oblivious to what was happening on the pitch. Their purpose was to hurl personal abuse at the safety stewards, and to try to goad Gateshead fans into fighting with them. I’m pleased to say they were unsuccessful.

Anyway, being a Gateshead and Arsenal supporter, imagine my delight when two weekends ago Heather announced. “I’ve got you something brilliant!”
“Ooooh what?”
“A Newcastle United season ticket.”  Her whole body wriggled happily, like a red setter recently liberated from a car boot.
“In the Gallowgate end.”  She continued.
“Well so long as they don’t clash with the Gateshead games.”

Apparently it’s a five game deal until the end of the season, with an option to continue into next season. I’ve been left in no doubt that we will be continuing into next season, and for me, it’s either go along too or sit in the house.

I take a mild interest in the varying fortunes of Newcastle United, accompanying Heather to games four or five times a year.  We generally sit in the stands beside the press box, but then a couple of weeks ago my friends Judith and Stan lent us their season tickets situated behind the goal in the Gallowgate end.  I have to say it was thrilling.  It was hard to follow events at the far end of the pitch, but when play was at our end we were just yards from the action, witnessing every twist and turn and privy to every oath aimed at the officials. Heather spent fifteen quid on a scarf to twirl whenever Newcastle score.  Suffice to say there’s been precious little twirling so far,  but it’s still only February.

imageYou many remember that last October I was an extra on the set of ITV’s Vera starring my cousin Brenda Blethyn.  Last night, during the final episode of the series, my big moment on-screen arrived.  Here we have an excellent still of my skinny arm –  I just wish that the term skinny could be applied to the rest of me.