¦ dialling in from departure lounge ¦
End of a short trip to the city I once called home. Newcastle. Born here. Moved away age 21. Great to come back when I can. Short hop on a click-and-fly airline. Downtime, away from the writing; time with friends who have known me through all the years. Lone Pine, since late 90s. Richy, since 1976, when we were both 5. Walking around Heaton and Jesus Mound I am confronted by relics of my deep past. Woodlands and Victorian structures of brick and stone… memories replay like visual echoes. As they always do. I am Mr Nostalgia. I rerun scenes like loops of tape sliced together from favourite movies.
My weird phantom sensory thing, The Mood, is still with me.
Great moment walking through Manor House Road, Osborne Avenue with Richy. Somebody recently said to me, “You’ve made it,” referring to where I am at with my writing and the RPG. And walking through these streets in Jesus Mound I am tracing the steps past places where I first started this journey, where I was when I first started writing.
Richy comments, “Last time you were up here you were talking about winding down your writing, easing off the throttle. Is that still true?”
I nod, and he glances at me, philosophical… “Have you wondered if the reason you’re slowing down on writing is because of what you’ve been resolving lately? Maybe your writing for all these years has been cathartic and now you’re done.”
I know he is referring to the big ceremony I enacted on Holy Island last year, when Richy drove me up there and witnessed the huge, weird and yet wonderful shifts in weather, waves and light, as I shouted words into the wind, my hands scrawled with runic symbols, and the ashes of a letter I had burned swirling around my feet.
I nod again and throw him a smile. And in this moment I can see him as I once knew him, with the same mop of bright blonde hair but 39 years younger – toddling along beside me as we head down into this very park to play.
“Yes. Partly that, and partly something else,” I tell him, and then explain where I am at in my head at this moment in time.
Later, we’re sitting in a cafe in Heaton talking about his book. His autobiography. I call it “Crazy Diamond.” He calls it “Sex, Drugs and Lets Rave.” His life has been like a movie. Nothing glamorous: but gritty and laced with sunbeams of human strength in adversity. I am looking forward to him finishing the process of assembling all the memories, like pieces of a kaleidoscopic puzzle. Because then he’ll be handing it over to me to write – a commitment I made to him in Cafe Tuin, in Jordaan district, Amsterdam, last year.
So here I am. In the departure lounge of Newcastle airport. I am drinking a terrible cup of coffee. But I don’t mind. It was the kid’s first day behind the bar. The place is going through a major refurb and looks great.
Sunlight is slipping through between stormy clouds. One aircraft sits on the tarmac. Smaller, private jets are busy coming and going in the distance.
I love this airport. Always have, even as a child when I came here to watch my mother flying off to various places. Or later, as a teenager, cycling out here from Jesus Mound to watch the aircraft. I spent a fantastic week up in the Air Traffic Control tower when I was 17, on work experience, talking to pilots and observing what can happen – and got to drive super fast down the runway in a jeep to go scare away the birds. Memories…
I’ve had a fab time up here but I am looking forward to getting back. Much to do.
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