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Defaces of decandidates

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Independent Alliance Candidates 2010

“Goldie’s” artwork fails to improve chances!

Not sure whether or not this was reprehensible vandalism and criminal damage – if so, where are the calls for a prosecution? After all, somebody must have climbed all over Cllr. Khan’s property to do this, dislodging expensive pieces of mortar! The culprits of course may have been 7 foot tall, hence the reluctance to take action.

On the other hand Mr. “Goldie , who “woz here”, may be South Shields’ answer to “Banksy”, attempting to create some artistic modernism with a political point in South Tyneside –  sorry but these are hardly Picassos are they? Airbrushing was probably needed originally at the start of the campaign, but you were probably right, as more details emerged, to go for obliteration.

Just a pity that you haven’t learned how to handle the well respected 6 inch “flopper” favoured by many painters and decorators in this town, instead you stuck to the accurate but time consuming chisel tipped felt pen. I guess you were a beneficiary of Labour’s education spending, and probably used your Educational Maintainance Allowance to finance your project.

This blogger, of course, cannot condone your behaviour Mr. Goldie, and I appreciate how much work, effort, and expense went into offering the customers of Simply Workwear a more colourful exterior decoration to enhance their shopping experience. Do you realise how many passing passengers on numerous buses must have been appalled by your artistic handiwork?

I do however acknowledge that even the famed Mr. Banksy failed to polish a t***.

This is not art at all, it is nothing more than vandalism – the “family” will be looking for you!

If you know who “Goldie” is please pass the details on to Cllr. Jane Branley or Cllr. Ahmed Khan, after you have informed the police, then if you have the time drop me an email too.

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Written by curly

May 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Old time atmosphere at The Stadium of Light

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Alf Ramsey knew my grandfather

Click to enlarge

“Alf Ramsey” cast to appear before Burnley game, Lipton Trophy to be aired!

I won’t be able to see Sunderland playing against Burnley this afternoon at the Stadium of Light, in fact I’ll be nowhere near South Shields at all as we travel away on a long standing engagement, so this may be the only blog post of the day. South Shields playwright Ed Waugh, whose politics are not my cup of tea – but he does have a good seam of humour in him – is sending the cast of “Alf Ramsey Knew my Grandfather” on to the pitch at Sunderland this afternoon for a pre game appearance.

Older readers may well recall the 1982 film “The World Cup: A Captain’s Tale” which starred Dennis Waterman, him of “The Sweeney”, Nigel Hawthorne, Andrew Keir, and Tim Healey, which depicted the exploits of the boys from West Auckland as they undertook the onerous trip to Italy to play against Stuttgart and FC Winterthur and in what was to be the world’s first cup competition for clubs. Incredibly the lads from West Auckland, competing for the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, won it in 1909 and even managed to retain the trophy two years later in 1911 against clubs from Switzerland, Germany, and Italy beating Juventus in the final and returning the cup to  County Durham. They were allowed to keep the trophy in perpetuity but it was stolen in 1994 and now the West Auckland Workingmen’s Club only has a replica.

It will be this replica of The Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy which will be paraded at the ground this afternoon by the cast of the play (I hope they will be wearing the “replica” woollen jerseys of West Auckland too it will add a good sense of history to the game, especially as so many Sunderland footballers were recruited from County Durham during that period).

Ed has sent me this, and I’m happy to help out, and hope that plenty of South Shields folks get along to today’s match or even better get along to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal to see Ed’s play.

Sunderland Football Club have invited Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather cast members onto the Stadium of Light’s hallowed turf on Saturday to display the impressive Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy prior to the Premiership match against Burnley.

The play, about the West Auckland football team who won the first world cup in 1909, is to transfer to Newcastle Theatre Royal in May.

Niall Quinn, Sunderland’s charismatic chairman, will attend the pre-match event, which will be used to publicise the “greatest football story ever” – when a team of miners from West Auckland in County Durham were invited to compete for the inaugural world cup in Italy against the top professional teams from Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

“West” beat German champions Stuttgart Sportfreunde 2-0 in the semi-finals before seeing off the Swiss champs FC Winterthur 2-0 in the final.

The lads returned to Turin, Italy, in 1911 and won the cup outright after hammering the mighty Juventus 6-1.

The play, written by former Vaux Breweries worker and Sunderland Polytechnic student Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, premiered at the Gala theatre in Durham last April to mark the centenary of the first achievement, was a huge success. Around 4,500 people attended and by the end of the 10-show run, it was playing to full houses at the 500-seat venue.

West Auckland were a team of County Durham miners playing in the Northern League when they were invited by the Glasgow-born tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton to participate in the inaugural world cup in Turin, Italy.

“West” subsequently kept the cup but it was stolen in 1994 and an exact replica today takes its place in West Auckland Working Men’s Club. People come from all over the world to pay respect to the achievement of these plucky miners.

Ed Waugh said: “This is an incredible non-partisan, forgotten episode in football history.

“Sunderland has always been a brilliant community club and we can’t thank everyone involved enough for allowing us to bring this story to many more thousands of people.

“Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather is a fantastic story of fairytale proportions about the sacrifice of the lads and lasses who made this incredible story happen.

“While football is its central theme it’s really a story about characters, community, solidarity and friendship – a bit like Auf Wiedersehen, Pet with balls!”

Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather runs at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, from Tuesday, May 11, until Saturday, May 15. Telephone 08448 11 21 21 or visit

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Elections mired in controversy before they start!

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Vulnerable people attacked by Branley/Khan South Tyneside Independents

I took the above picture in 2008, it depicts one of the service users of the Arts 4 Wellbeing Project in Derby Terrace, South Shields, they are a great bunch of people producing some fine work in the field of the arts, but that is not their main aim, their aim is to help people who have a variety of personal problems arising from ill health, long term incapacity, mental health issues, or stress related illnesses re-establish some self confidence, and by group working in a creative environment integrate and interact more fully with the wider community. These are some of the most vulnerable adults in South Tyneside and this project is an enormous help both to them and to us.

Yet having recently being nominated for recognition in the Community Group section of the  Shields Gazette’s Pride of South Tyneside Awards, and being accessed by other such community support groups, and more importantly having won a huge £46000 grant from The Big Lottery Fund, they find themselves on the receiving end of an unprecedented and unfounded attack from the editor of the South Tyneside Independent Alliance newsletter for the Beacon and Bents ward in South Shields, our old friend Peter Shaw.

Beacon and Bents newsletter

Click to enlarge

The newsletter supporting the candidacy of Jim Hodgson alleges “theft” in a manner which anyone with deep enough pockets would claim is a libel, unfortunately those involved do not have the sort of riches that swill around in the Independent Alliance’s coffers, but they are in no mood to lie down and be trampled upon by the makers of these allegations. The matters referred to happened in earlier times when the project operated under a different name with a different management committee, they were investigated by an auditor and Northumbrian Police, and NO CHARGES have resulted from those investigations! However these attacks from the Branley/Khan alliance have caused great disquiet among service users who fear that the project that they use may be once again forced to scrap and scrape for it’s life.

Shaw makes no mention of the fact that when they were struggling to find sustainable funds that the chairman paid the staff from his own bank account to help with the survival of the arts centre, he makes no mention that the two Mr. Woods regularly paid all of the incidental expenses for the building from their own pockets to help out, he makes no mention that The Big Lottery Fund does not hand out money willy nilly like sweets to children, he makes no mention of the long appraisal and audits carried out by The Big Lottery Fund and the painstaking investigations that they make into the suitability of community groups before deciding to award grants. Oh no, it’s far more important to once again trade in the regular Alliance stock of personal attacks, without any regard at all for the feelings of the hundreds of service users who now worry intensely over the motives of Cllr. Ahmed Khan and their ability to continue to access this much needed service.

Whilst Mr. David Wood, the manager, has  referred Cllr. Khan to the Charity Commission for further details of Arts 4 Wellbeing’s funding, Khan has decided that this isn’t good enough and has piled further pressure upon the group with his emails worded in a perfunctory hard headed business tone which some of the service users regard as “threatening”.

Click the thumbnails below to read Cllr. Khan’s emails


Nobody in their right minds would see this as anything except political and an attack upon opponents of the South Tyneside Independent Alliance (John Wood is standing as Labour’s candidate in the Beacon and Bents ward in the May elections, and David Wood stood as an Independent against Allen Branley in the Westoe by election last September) the trouble is that the majority of the service users are feeling worried, stressed, disturbed and nervous about the future of their arts centre which is just recovering from a shaky period and is re-establishing itself.

There is absolutely no need to hurt vulnerable adults in the way that Khan has in this matter, it is an old issue which only has any relevance at present because a former employee is going to an industrial tribunal following a dismissal during the transitional period. The Khan/Branley Alliance is using the personal futures and feelings of some of the most vulnerable adults as political stick to beat their opponents with – this is NOT good politics.

Just how low can the South Tyneside Independent Alliance stoop , this approach is nothing short of disgraceful and reprehensible!


In another interesting twist to their newsletter, I can recall once being berated by Khan for making use of his images without permission and “breaching copyright” (he didn’t enjoy having the mickey taken out of him) yet his pet dog, editor Peter Shaw feels perfectly happy in stealing images from the Disney Corporation for inclusion in the newsletter. You can bet he didn’t ask for permission before breaching their copyright!

Coming up

A plea to withdraw candidates and a more honest history of the Independent Alliance

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Written by curly

April 7, 2010 at 10:53 am

South Shields’ biggest ever queue

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Queuing to see Joe McElderry in South ShieldsKing Street besieged by people raging against the machine!

To be honest, I hadn’t seen a queue like this at the shops since visiting Bulgaria in it’s communist days when the popular thing to do was to join on the end , just to find out what they were selling. So I did, and when I got to the front I found a shop where they were running on candle light and hundreds of poor souls had queued up to buy plastic table cloth cut directly from the roll, apparently there was a longer queue to buy bread at 6:00 am that day!

This was the view in King Street, South Shields yesterday afternoon as “Joe mania” gripped this part of South Tyneside, local hero and X Factor winner Joe McElderry had made a flying visit to his home town to promote his new single “The Climb” and was signing copies for the five hundred (some who had camped out overnight) lucky enough to have special wristbands issued by HMV Records to gain access to the store. For over two hours from 4:00 pm the store was closed to the general public and McElderry did not, as had been suggested on Facebook, make an appearance or sing, he left a little after 6:00 pm by the back entrance to fly back to The Dorchester in London.

Bearing in mind the effects of Facebook, hundreds of more spectators arrived in King Street on the off chance of catching a glimpse of Joe McElderry but they left disappointed, also bearing in mind Facebook, many wished to purchase a copy of Joe’s CD to ensure that it makes the Christmas No. 1 spot against Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name”, which, after an online campaign, is currently outselling that of the X Factor winner. According to The Daily Mirror Joe’s chances took a blow as his record company failed to get the CD into many shops yesterday, blaming “distribution issues”. Only Asda and HMV had copies, with other outlets expecting it today, doh!

Which brings me to the point of this post, I’ve just been listen to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast show with Nicky Campbell and Sheila Fogerty where they had Rage Against the Machine lined up in the adjoining studio to play their re-released single so that we could compare them to McElderry, it seems that the American rockers, who have been around since 1991, had been warned that they were on the BBC airing to a large audience, but they still managed to litter their performance with profanities and expletives in a matter that would have made The Sex Pistols blush. Needless to say, the Beeb pulled the plug pretty sharply and Fogarty advised the audience to get out and buy Joe’s single.

I’m still a big rock fan, but this type of west coast US thrash guitar stuff does nothing for me, it’s total garbage and the Facebook campaign amounts to little more than an anarchistic outburst to throw a spanner in the works of the charts business, I just hope that South Shields folks aren’t tempted to buy it, not because you feel that you ought to be supporting Joe McElderry or Simon Cowell, but because it is devoid of decent musical medley, is a cacophony of unconnected noises, didn’t capture the broader public’s imagination last time round, and doesn’t rhythmically or musically appeal this time round, although it is raising money for a worthy charity. If you really must listen to American rock try older Nirvana albums or The Kings of Leon, far better music all round.

For those stuck with the problems of buying a late Christmas present I guess you couldn’t do much harm by getting out and buying Joe McElderry’s single CD for the kids, and hey, even Gordon Brown and David Cameron like him!

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Written by curly

December 17, 2009 at 11:29 am

Another South Tyneside boy comes good

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avatarLuca Franglen now a singing star!

Via Durham Times

I think it’s great to report the successes of our young people from this area, there is often far too much negative reporting about our youth and we hear too little about those doing good works either for themselves or the wider community, success should be celebrated and held up like a candle!

Luca Franglen is an eight year old from South Tyneside and he attends Durham Chorister’s school, he was recently allowed time off from school to mingle with stars Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana at the London premiere of Avatar at The Odeon in Leicester Square.

Angelic voiced Luca (Luciano) sings on the soundtrack by James Horner. He played a particularly prominent part on track five on the sound track CD, a song titled: ‘Becoming One With The People” with Ney’tiri.

Before setting off for London with his proud parents, Luca said:

“It was very exciting to sing on the film and to see all the pictures I was singing along to.”

Luca has been at the Durham Chorister’s School since the age of five although he is not a member of the famous cathedral choir, he can expect to be the centre of attention when he returns to school next week.

Luca Franglen

Luca Franglen

Will there be a record deal, a signing session in King Street, South Shields, will he be singing at the Mayoral Christmas Carol service?

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Written by curly

December 16, 2009 at 10:49 am

Ultimate recycling

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Uncertain Instruments at South Shields Customs House

May I take a few minutes of your time to recommend a visit to the Customs House at The Mill Dam in South Shields where I spent a very reflective afternoon away from Christmas shopping today. If you, like me, are now and then looking for some sort of escape route from your toils and tribulations then this oasis of art is an ideal haven for reflection and thought. Right now there are some excellent exhibitions being shown in the Sandford Goudie Gallery including one or two which are particularly fascinating.

David Kemp’s “Uncertain Instruments” are a cornucopia of recycled items gathered over years of scouring old tin mines, scrap yards, car boot sales, and jumble in Cornwall. David has taken to the ultimate recycling in using these items to create a miscellany of artistic wit and invention, some of which would certainly make it into the props room of Dr. Who! I marvelled at the way that ancient old keyboards, motherboards, wheels, bogies, tea trollies etc. had been fashioned into wondrous works of art evoking a variety of emotions.

Also, having marvelled at the “Coat for a Boat” exhibition this summer, I found that some of the same group of knitters from South Tyneside have got together to create a “Victorian Christmas” all knitted from a variety of materials, I was absolutely fascinated and amazed at the creativity, and to top it all we have an avenue of white Christmas trees as we enter, all fully decorated yet made entirely from recycled plastic milk cartons!

If you have a spare hour when you are in South Shields town centre or Market Place then do have a walk across, you won’t regret it.

Which reminds me, I’ve just recycled an image of the Customs House director Ray Spencer in his alter ego “Tommy the Trumpeter” in what I consider to be an extremely creative style, it will be on show in my own gallery, South Shields Daily Pictures, in a few days time.

I hope he likes it.

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Written by curly

December 15, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Get stuffed

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hancock museum, newcastle upon tyne(Or mounted Victorian style)

Years ago, as a schoolboy I often went to the public museum and library in Ocean Road, South Shields, it had an olde worlde atmosphere and a smell of faded leather and boiled linseed oil in it’s halls of carved oak and polished brass. The library was on the ground floor and South Shields museum occupied the first floor, long before Denmark Square was built and the book collections rehoused in a new facility.

The fascination in the museum was it’s lauding of Empire and the illustration of conquest, be it Roman over Britain or Britain over Africa or India, with a collection of hoarded weapons, uniforms, trinkets, glassware, and artefacts brought back to this isle by soldiers, merchants, and anthropologists during those years when the British Empire was marked in pink on every schoolboy’s globe. It also housed a fairly rare (for the north east) collection of “mounted” animals and birds – imagine road kill opened up, stuffed with straw and cotton, and sewn back together again. Yes a treasure trove of taxidermy which was removed from view in South Shields with the building of the new library, it was taken into custody by Tyne Wear Museums who over the past few years have been working their socks off to make the past more accessible, more meaningful,  more interesting, and more interactive for future generations, and I think we’d agree that South Shields Museum with it’s strong links to the Catherine Cookson stories, Jobling, mining, and glass and chemical works works well for youngsters and for visitors.

I took the children up to Newcastle yesterday to have a look at the Hancock Museum, which is now marketed as part of the Great North Museum, and having benefited from massive public investment it’s galleries are a joy to spend time in, spacious, temperature controlled, and carefully laid out. It is certainly worth setting four hours or so aside to peruse and learn. If you thought that you’d never see the taxidermy collection again then think over, I’m sure most of it must have been rehoused up in Newcastle, and if you have a chance this week before the kids get back to school take them up there for a good look about. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

We can learn so much about ourselves by looking back, and if we learn well then our future has a chance of being so much better, (still not sure why the Victorians were enamoured with the art of stuffing animals, but in a time before cinema, television, or colour photography, perhaps it was the best way of bringing an elephant to the imagination of Geordies up here).

Entrance, by the way, is free.

Click thumbnail to enlarge

Great North Museum

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Written by curly

September 1, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Jane Branley was a witch

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Cllrs. Jane Branley and Geraldine White, South Tyneside

Was the South Tyneside Independent Leader Hecate?

When she was a girl enjoying her education at South Shields Grammar School for Girls, the now Leader of the South Tyneside Independent Alliance group of councillors, Jane Branley, liked nothing better than to steep herself in drama – not much has changed since then.

One of her best remembered roles was as one of the three witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, who although unnamed by the Bard became popularly known in some circles as Darkness, Chaos, and Conflict, and some say their leader was called Hecate. I wonder which witch was which, and which witch was Jane?

Shakespeare gave them roles as agents and their presence indicated impending doom!

During Shakespeare’s day, witches were seen as worse than rebels, “the most notorious traytor and rebell that can be.” They were not only political traitors, but spiritual traitors as well. They defy logic, not being subject to the rules of the real world.

The witches’ lines in the first act: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air” are often said to set the tone for the remainder of the play by establishing a sense of confusion. Indeed, the play is filled with situations in which evil is depicted as good, while good is rendered evil. The line “Double, double toil and trouble,”  communicates the witches’ intent clearly: they seek to only trouble for the mortals around them. Shakespeare’s principal source for the Three Witches is found in the account of King Duncan in Raphael Holinshed’s history of the British Isles, The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1587). In Holinshed, Macbeth and his companion Banquo encounter “three women in strange and wild apparell, resembling creatures of elder world” who hail the men with glowing prophecies and then vanish “immediately out of their sight.” Holinshed notes that “the words of the Weird Sisters…greatly encouraged” Macbeth to “usurp the kingdom by force.”

Sounds very familiar, almost like the regular acts that we see in the council chamber of South Shields Town Hall, last Thursday Cllr. Branley brought impending doom to the full meeting of the council as she defied logic, not being subject to the rules of the real world, and the Mayor was forced to abandon it. How much the Westoe councillor might have enjoyed the occasion (and the ensuing publicity) if the police had arrived to escort her from the premises.

Once a drama Queen, always a drama Queen perhaps?

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Written by curly

June 29, 2009 at 9:53 am

The weekend entertainment

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The Gazprom Song

Let’s drink to you, let’s drink to us,
Let’s drink to all the Russian gas
That it never comes to an end,
Though it’s so hard to obtain
Let’s drink to you, let’s drink to us
Let’s drink to all the Russian gas
For those extracting the new sun
From down beneath the ground

He must be Putin and Medvedev’s favourite singer, and just remember because of our short sighted energy policies, they hold our future in their hands.

Via Danny Finkelstein and Hattie Garlick

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Written by curly

June 13, 2009 at 10:38 am

Porn or art, art or porn?

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Porn portrayals of Cliff Richard and Mary Whitehouse

Found this at MediaWatchWatch

It’s portrait of Cliff Richard and Mary Whitehouse made from clippings of mens’ magazines by artist Jonathan Yeo. It is currently showing at the West End gallery in London with a price tag of £25,000.

The artist, Jonathan Yeo said he had chosen Mrs Whitehouse, who died in 2001 aged 91, because he “always had a problem with her”. Sir Cliff is targeted because “anybody who has lived in apparent abstinence deserves a bit of ribbing”

I’m one of those who couldn’t quite manage to get all high and mighty upset over it, and agree with Mrs Whitehouse’s son Richard, 63, who said: “It is quite witty really.” It’s bit of a rib tickler to be honest, considering how puritanical she was.

Cliff Richard and Mary Whitehouse portrait

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Written by curly

May 15, 2009 at 9:18 am

Posted in Arts, Blogging, Culture, Events, Fun, Humour

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