Wednesday, 27 April 2011

136: And hello from... home?

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety.  Reader discretion is advised.

(or Goodbye Broons, Hello BROON!)

That's a bottle of brown with the Tyne Bridge behind it. I couldn't get the camera to pick up both, so it picked up neither. Hey, ho.

And so, from the city where my father was born, to the one where I was. I lived just outside Newcastle for the first few months of my life, then we moved to just outside Durham (around 13 miles south) and moved house a couple of times more over the years, but always stayed around Durham / Chester-le-Street. When relocated down to Kent in '93, it was easier just to tell people I was from Newcastle because a) it's technically true, b) a lot of people in the south have no fucking clue where Durham is, and c) if you say "County Durham" with a Northern accent, an alarming number of Southeners hear the word 'county' and an accent they can't place, then ask what part of Ireland that is. I wish I was kidding.

It's also worth pointing out that since the Tyne Bridge is on the label (and indeed, cap) of a bottle of Newcastle Brown, that visual reminder is what's stayed with me over the years, and I do get a little misty-eyed every time I see it in front of me (the bridge, not the beer. Well, actually…). So Newcastle is, from a certain point of view, home. Even though I only really know my way around the city centre. And even though I haven't spent any significant amount of time here for so long that everything in the city centre has changed, and there's not much need to know my way around.

We'll be doing a bit of the cultural thing here (and there's plenty of it), but I think what I'm looking forward to the most is catching up with friends, old and new. You'll hear about that.

MMmmm. Brown, brown, brown. Here it goes, down to my belly…

…the toilet door is now locked.

The journey from Edinburgh to Newcastle was uneventful, by the way, other than a high percentage of rail passengers who are apparently unable to lock a toilet door. There was not only the woman who huffily and hurriedly closed the door in my face when I almost inadvertently revealed her to the people at that end of the carriage, but I saw this happen several times over a 90min journey. I can understand why she closed the door, of course, but I thought the angry sigh was a bit fucking rich. Don't take it out on me because you don't know how the lock works. I only hope she's learned her lesson and will in future either sing constantly at a loud volume throughout any toilet motions, or will perhaps phone her travelling companion from within the toilet and get them to confirm that the door is locked and the 'engaged' light is showing on the outside. Perhaps it would be easier for that companion just to accompany her and stand guard outside the toilet, letting prospective users know that "Sorry, there's someone in there, and she doesn't know how to lock the door. If you'd like to take your seat, I'll give you a shout when she's finished."

I shouldn't have a go just at this incapable woman though, because as I said, it happened to other people as well. Was the lock difficult to master? Did the lock require a coin, or a special key from the train conductor? Did you have to solve a puzzle from The Crystal Maze in order to activate the locking mechanism? Was there perhaps a troll or a wizard who asks you a question and won't lock the door without a correct answer?

No, none of these. You turn the handle round and the door locks, and a light comes on outside telling people they can't come in. It is, as the bastard meerkats on the television say, simples. With that in mind, it's amazing how you can convince the public they need insurance from an unfunny talking meerkat, when they can't lock a toilet door. This should tell you all you need to know about people, I think.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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