Tuesday, 29 October 2013


It is no secret, where this road goes
So busy once with coastal flow
Is signed for all; heading north from Guide Post.

On it winds, down Bank, round bends
Where church and homes once stood
This road has carried many; in prams, on sledge, on foot.

Were some drawn to the Anglers Arms?
Or Bothal stones beyond?
More likely, is this little bridge that sits with all its charm.

Sheepwash Bridge, this resting rail
For those that journey on
Secret garden, hidden place, lies peaceful in the vale

Down the years, there’s been some fun,
Rope swings across the river,
Here couples met and families walked, to sit with duck and swan.

So to her banks we all have come
With Grans and Mams and Dads
Her weir pours over memories, always passing on.

It is no Secret what this all means
This place for not just me
Take me down to Sheepwash Bridge and here is where I’ll be.

JK Mitchell

In memory of Hazel Mitchell (Nee Coulter), 1923 - 2013

Thursday, 24 October 2013



This is where I was joined to the world,
this is where I first appeared
and took to walking
along the sun-baked pavements
on the route of the 15 bus.
I joined
with the Heaton race,
found a sense of place 
out of my mother's arms
and up Sackville Road
to Ravenswood.
Junctions rushed towards me,
engines of progress,
steam days in the 52B shed.
Magical machines
flew past me
along the quarter mile sidings
in the coaly night
as the local cats screamed
and young dogs yelped.
It was my time
to run with my youth
and someone threw me 
a book to disappear in,
something to engage
my history with,
streets lining up
for exploration;
feeding off
Chillingham Road, 
getting lost
in the Scala,
eyes swirling
with street life, 
the Whitefield Terrace colours
of another teeming Heaton day.
There I was
chucking snowballs
at trains,
skimming along rails,
for girls on the ice.
We pranced together,
joined gangs of trees
in the Park,
threw ourselves
into the smoke from chimneys,
dreamed through the nights
of black locomotives,
joining us to London
and Edinburgh,
taking us out
of ourselves.
We don’t forget
those junctions
that linked us
to the wealth
of a history shimmering
in the back lanes  
and in the leaves
dancing in sunlight 
in Jesmond Dene,
running across Armstrong Bridge
to greet 
our futures. 



The trains
speed through
your memories:
the old lady waiting
with a pram,
the boy in black and white.
Days in the Heaton sun
swept aside
in the rush
to rationalise.
I was that boy,
still am,
on the platform
looking for the words
to express
true feelings
for my home;
drifting in the smoke,
derelict clouds
along First Avenue
and out of sight
into local photographs.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013



Cullercoats, a saveloy dip

& a kiss behind Spuggie Hall.

Airwaves bristle over Marconi Point,

whispered sweet-nothings,

& a brisk north-easterly.

Old men shelter from the cold.

Simpson Street, deserted,

only the castaway wrapper

of a fish & chip supper

running with the wind.

Yesterday`s news, vinegar-soaked,

salt on a fisherman`s tongue.

Across the bay lights flicker,

shingle whistles

& the constant turn of tide.

The stench of seaweed.

A cluster of folk seek comfort

in the parlour of the Newcastle Arms,

smoke-filled & a gossip-monger`s retreat.

Somewhere down a half-forgotten lane

a dog barks.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


There’s always an unconscious bias
around the boardroom table.
Where are the women? “You try us!”
says the pretty face out in the hall.
But more often than not for these yes men
it’s nearly always the same
their few bald heads won’t soften towards them
for it’s Julian in and not Jane.

And over the years these old cronies
have built-up their strong male fold;
they’ve leaned on each other only
all the time getting more and more old.
And it’s worked out well for these yes men
and down at their drinking club
it’s been drinks on the house not to reckon
so long as they don’t keep their stubs.

Nine tenths of the law is possession,
thirty per cent would do quite nice,
it’s not asking too much persuasion
for some women of action, their slice.
But it’s male pride they fear these yes men,
they’ve got this far and it’s well done
while Julian he thinks in the singular
it’s Jane who thinks three times in one.