It was in 1978 that I went to the Lindisfarne Christmas concert at the Newcastle City Hall.
I went to watch my mate Eric, dance with the Killingworth Sword Dancers, a warm-up act to the main band; but it was Alan Hull, the lead singer with Lindisfarne, who made the lasting impression on me.
Now passed away, he was a Geordie ‘Champion of the People’, and this was his platform. He created a euphoria in the audience, which I thought at the time, reached a climax with ‘Run for Home’, a song he allegedly wrote in his response to a distaste for London and the South. I was soon to realize that it wasn’t the climax, as everyone, already on his feet, rose to another level -they all swayed in an infectious tribal response to ‘Fog on the Tyne’.
Alan Hull had struck a deep chord with the audience, as over 2000 people expressed their pride and a profound sense of belonging to the North East of England.
Although I am not a Geordie, remembering these moments makes me tingle, because Alan Hull was appealing not only to Geordies, but to the whole region – one that is set apart from the rest of the country, one that has its own culture with a southern boundary somewhere just south of Middlesbrough.
It’s over 30 years since I have been a full-time resident of the North East, but I have never been able to refer to anywhere else as ‘home’ – that is still reserved for Hartlepool in County Durham.
I return there regularly, thinking of my visits as ‘reality checks’; references to the values that helped form me.
Throughout my life I have painted in the North East. During that time I have also spent periods in other regions of the world searching their colour and light; but two and a half years ago I felt compelled to return to the North East, and focus my attention on something that was so strong in me that I could not ignore it - it was time to ‘run for home’.
The forthcoming blogs cover the places I have been painting over that period of time.