Couchsurfing in Newcastle

Finally finallyfinally getting round to posting up something about my jaunt to Newcastle a couple of weeks ago. It seems like months back in the distant past.

I was originally meant to be heading down to Hartlepool to meet up with my pals Hold Your Horse Is and jump on tour for a few days. Alas, one of the band also happens to be a photographer, and got offered a job that he couldn’t pass up (to be fair, it was in the Canary Islands).

Faced with the prospect of chucking away the single ticket and losing the dosh I’d already paid, I decided to throw caution to the wind and Couchsurf in the Toon.

This is Zoe, who very kindly let me into her mad world for the weekend:

When she opened the door with rollers in her hair, wearing pyjamas and brandishing a bottle of wine, I knew we’d get along just fine.

After meeting a dizzying assortment of random people that Zoe knew from all over the place in increasingly strange ways (including a mental Glaswegian girl who had lived in London for ten years and just moved to Newcastle) we descended upon ‘The Polite Room’ – a combination of folky music and other such things. Turns out half the people that ended up on the stage were from Scotland at one point or another, which was pretty strange. There were lots of incredibly nice instruments on display though. Mmmm accordions.

PROTIP: If you ever see Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra playing somewhere near you, get drunk and go along… or go along and get drunk. Either way is acceptable.

Once the polite part was over, we ended up out in the thick of the Geordie nightlife, which was a bit nuts. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m simply used to Glasgow, but it seemed crazy in a totally different way to up here. For a start, the male-to-female ratio was huge, and all of them seemed a lot more forward in their approach to the fairer sex… as in, they had literally no shame about coming over to speak, pulling them towards them or out-and-out staring. It was a bit uncomfortable actually, and I remember it being similar when I was down the last time. Couldn’t help but think that if the same thing happened up here, the girls would just punch the guys in the face.

The other excitement involved a bouncer ejecting somebody from a club in such a way that he literally flew off the doorstep and cracked his head open on the ground – knocking him out cold and a nice pool of blood appearing, without so much as an eyelid being batted by the doorstaff.

Luckily one of the guys we were with was a trained fireman and did the whole first aid thing whilst the ambulance was arriving. Not so luckily, one of the policeman on the scene decided to claim that I was videoing things (I mean really, when have I ever been known to use moving pictures), and then rather aggressively force me down the street, despite our group having witnessed the whole thing. He backed off once I made it clear I had his badge number, and the complaint is currently with Northumbria Police.

That said, I’ll never forget the Police fighting to get the guy who had been knocked out into the ambulance after he came round…. as he demanded to have “one more cigarette” before he got carted away.

Even better was when some passing jakey square go’d him, and despite all of his injuries and chaos going on around, he was quite prepared to take him up on the offer.


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