Saturday, 15 December 2018

My Dissociative Life. Amazing. And Amazingly Shit.


Do amazing things. See amazing things. Be with amazing people.

Get home. Burst into tears. Yet again. As the voices and parts say and shout so much.


Do amazing things. See amazing things. Be with amazing people.

Get home. Burst into tears. Yet again. As the voices and parts say and shout so much and I have to argue even to have a cup of tea because one of them has been seeking to impose a 9pm curfew on it.


Some things I laugh about. The banana argument two of them had this week is funny to me even though it resulted in my head hurting quite a bit from being hit. But what's now been recognised as this complex dissociative disorder is pretty damn shit. I would not wish this on anyone. I laugh because what's the alternative? I might be able to do some kind of stand up comedy about it but it's mostly horrible to live with and I do have to hold back or the comedy would get very dark indeed. (Very fortunate to meet someone this year with an equally dark and macabre mental health comedy streak.)


I wrote a rant about something today. I wasn't going to post it but Beth says that I should. She supports and understands and has endured twenty-five years of my mental health with the highs and lows. I've been bloody fortunate to be married to someone who stuck by me through so much and for so long.

And this rant is where a few things get very honest. You ain't seen nothing yet! Some people won't like it one little bit.

They don't matter. The people I nearly cried on massively earlier this evening about it supported it. Probably because every one of them knows me - we've met together for quite a while - and has seen at least some of what it's taken to be a part of that group. It's taken a lot for all of that group to be there.

I'll post the rant tomorrow. It'll be extended. With more honesty about childhood, family, dissociation, and so on.

But there will also be gratitude. For all the people, groups, and organisations around me at different times that have stood by me in my struggles to not only stay alive and exist but to push myself (sometimes rather too far for me) into recovery (with set backs - it's only a couple of weeks since I very, very, very nearly committed suicide - I can perform some kind of theatre show but I am far from being well) and a live that's more than worth living and is filled with things beyond anything I dreamed would ever be possible for me.

Without all those other people I would not have made it through this year. I am incredibly fortunate to have all those people. On the other hand I only have them due to years of sodding hard work to get to the places where I've met them and done amazing things with them, often being enabled by their own wonder.

Being incredibly fortunate is one thing. But DID - or DDNOS - is crap. Very crap. Clarity isn't bringing peace. The beginnings of clarity is making things many times harder. In the short term. No, as I said, I would not wish this on anyone even though I were filled with infinite hatred for them. Nobody deserves this.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

My Head Hurts - Dissociation and the State of the World

First post here in a very long time. There's such a lot to tell you. It's been a very full year with lots of highs and lows. I end the year having done plenty of things I thought were impossible for me. I also end it on a waiting list for treatment for a complex dissociative disorder (some form of DID or DDNOS) that we uncovered in psychology appointments this year having fought for those appointments for a very long time. Tonight - after a bad day in which parts in my head have not made life easy. It's not an easy head. But I've also managed an autism group in Gateshead and have got to choir and at home have gone through the comedy part of a play I'm performing in this week. The play is just another "impossible" thing. I need to write a list of all the new things this year. This life building thing can be achieved and I have a few long term goals. But my head is more than a challenge too. This year we've discovered part of the reason why. Next year we can start to deal with it in therapy. I've had mental health issues for all my life and have tried all kinds of ways to overcome them. It turns out the this complex disorder is the kind of thing to maintain all the other mental health issues. Everything I've tried has in effect been a bit like deciding I hate leaves on trees and chopping them all off manually in the autumn before looking proudly and happily at a leafless tree, believing I'd solved the leaf issue. There's a good chance that this year has revealed the areas we need to look at in order for the mental health issues to not be maintained. It's going to be bloody difficult to look at them. But at least we know they're there and I will have a good help in the place I've been referred to. What's been consciously revealed is tough. Unbearably tough sometimes. But it's incredibly positive to have revealed it. ... Owwwwwwwwww.

This head hurts so much but we're proud because we made choir and did a good job.

We are struggling so we're going to write a garbage post which will make us sleepy enough to turn to sleeping. It's been too much this afternoon and tonight but we did well at choir and it is always good to see the people there. I don't know them as well as I'd like but every one of them is marvellous. And we're fiercely feminist too. The national media said so.

Also hurting:

That we have the government we have.

That my head and my mental health is infinitely more strong and stable than the current Conservative regime.

That the USA has an even more crap head who has a tantrum when the country doesn't want to pay for a stupid and racist wall that he promised another country would pay for as one of his unbelievable number of false points in his garbage verbal campaigning.

That every Brexit option stinks but 52% (2 years ago before we all knew more about it that wasn't just lies and spin from the likes of Boris, a man who has only been sacked for lying several times and whose welcome to other people includes words like piccaninnies and I can hardly believe he got away with that one. "Sorry I'm a fucking racist shit." "Oh, that's alright, here be foreign secretary." Would a supposedly non-racist PM make a fucking racist shit foreign secretary? Boris may look lovable and cuddly (or not - I wouldn't. Yuck) but so does a puffer fish.

That too many Americans fell for Trump. That too many British people fell for Boris. That most of us fall for shit things a lot of the time.

That our government deliberately chooses poverty for the most vulnerable members of our society and thus deserve less than zero respect. Mrs. May and all other Christians in the party should be beaten round the heads with hardback copies of the Peace and Justice Study Bible. And as for Jacob with his justice and love denying brand of Catholicism, anyone who does the no abortion thing (which I don't agree with but understand within Catholic belief systems) but doesn't do the preferential option for the poor thing (which I do agree with and understand within Catholic belief systems) has made themselves into a devil and the Bible itself says they won't be accepted by God because of works - in verses quotes in the Catholic Catechism.

Climate change. We have 12 years so stave off total collapse and ensure a bit of suffering is limited. And already there are mutant hybrid species of puffer fish coming into existence. In a month we can say we have 11 years.

Fundamentalist creationists who deny evolution ask bloody stupid questions about whether anyone has ever seen a new species come into existence. There are many millions of these people in the USA. See its even more crap head.

Racism. Trying to understand racism hurts my head. Not its effects. Those are understandable. But its existence. My head can't fathom hatred based on anything even slightly linked to melanin.

The way far right activists critique Islam, sometimes in ways that ex-Muslims and reformers agree with, but in such a way as to demonise a billion people rather than to just be philosophical religious critique without which religion stagnates. And how acceptable and important rational critique of things becomes unacceptable when extremist and prejudiced tosspots transform it into fear and loathing of people who should not be feared or loathed.

The way the moderate right has become closer to the far right and how the far left is polarised in other ways that aren't realistic or inclusive.

That it does no good to point out glaring errors in conspiracy theories or in posts by people who believe them because what good are facts in the face of conspiracy? Even when things are glaringly wrong and when a bit of research and reading gives ironclad proof that they're wrong there's still no point granting to a conspiracy theorist the results of that research. They have stuffed their ears with more cotton wool than you would think possible.

That sometimes I do that research and point out the glaring errors that I could prove in the strictest court of law were errors, even though I know it won't do any good at all and that anything said against a conspiracy theory won't be listened to by the theory believer because it's like a fundamentalist religious belief where cognitive bias and so much else won't entertain the possibility of error.

It didn't for me when I had a fundamentalist religious belief. We saw doubt as weakness of faith. I've read other religious people since who see doubt as a place of strength.

So many things can make a head hurt.

Tonight and today it's been the interplay and argument between different parts. And that one of them has hit me too much even while another was trying her best to stop him. I hope the waiting list for therapy isn't too disastrous.

"Not-God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the courage and energy next year to be more involved in activism to change the things I can ..."

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Self-Redemption and Art

The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

Click Here For the Introduction And Contents Page

Click Here For the Previous Chapter

Click Here For the Following Chapter

A few days ago I attended an art and writing workshop at Broadacre House in Newcastle run by Launchpad.  The subject of the workshop was stigma.  The day was very good.  Lovely people.  Lovely conversation.  And we all enjoyed ourselves.  After some exercises to get our creative brains working we were told to write something about stigma with a view to creating a piece of art related to the subject by the end of the four hour session.

We were given a whole twenty minutes to write.  Later in the day our writings were taken and typed up.  I wish I'd proof read the typing on the day.  There are mistakes in it.  That's a shame because all of our writing and art from the day is going on public display in two locations through mental health week.  I may have to go along on the first day with Tippex and a pen!

Twenty minutes.  I spent the first five of these minutes boiling a kettle and making a much needed mug of spiced tea.  So fifteen minutes.  Here's the result.  I finished before the fifteen minutes were up too!

Self Redeeemed

Don't speak to me and I won't speak to you.
Won't mention it, imply it, talk it out.
It's a private thing you say, too much for you.
“Why don't I just stop?” you say.
“Stop being autistic, difficult, so bloody selfish.
Snap out of depression you ungrateful bastard.
And if you mention a personality disorder again?”
But I didn't mention it. You did.

And yet, the biggest stigma was in my own head.

Autism? No way. Can't be true. I'm not one of them.
Not shut in. Not melting in the street.
Not much anyway.
Not some mono-focussing idiot savant,
The local Rain Main equivalent,
Or as socially inept as a Sheldon.

BPD? No way. Can't be true. I'm not one of them.
It's just wrong, like all the other diagnoses were wrong.
I'm not like that.
And they only ever said I was because of the cuts.
It's bull. Stupid psychiatrists.
BPD? Nonsense. Just like the rest.
I'm not bipolar, schizoid, schizotypal, schizophrenic. Or any of them.

Yeah, I received stigma. Internalised it. Just another reason for self hate, calling myself a monster.
Couldn't accept the truths because I was raised proud, raised pure, raise to not be disordered.
No ASD or BPD. No Ds at all. Or they'll see me for what I am and hate me just like I deserve.

Freedom is worth fighting for.
Coming back to what I thought false myths and accepting the facts. Facing down the myths I believed and rejecting them.
And now?
ASD, BPD – and my queerness, my irreligion. So what? Inside I will broach no stigma.

I will stand. Out and proud. Out. Public. Self-accepting. Self-believing. Under no illusions.

No. Less illusions. There are still stories I tell.
Lies I kid myself with. Lies of the old monster kind.
Lies. Stories.
Can't write. Can't sing again. Can't hope.
Lies. Stories.
And they will fall too.

Now is the time to live. Free. Self-redeemed.
No matter what they say.
And they do say.
But less than I ever believed they would.
I believed they would damn me.
Because I stigmatised myself more than the so-called society ever could.
I am out and proud.
Free and self-redeemed.

Then it was time to do some art.  I can panic at art.  Panic at paint.  To be given paper or canvas and some paint and be told to create something is a thing of dread for me.  And yet.  I made something.  We all did.  Each piece arising from the honesty of our own situations and experiences.

The words in the red sections represent words that have spoken to me.  The words in that strange looking face are questions I've asked and stories I've told myself.  The words round that face are positivity.  In the midst of all the rest I am determined that those words are part of my truth.

It's not an artistic masterpiece.  But it's mine.  And I'm proud to have done something without guidance, without help, and without having a meltdown.  That's a joy for me.  Seeing the work and hearing the words of the other people in the workshop was also a joy.

As for that exercise to get our brains loosened up.  We were given a sentence to free write from.  As it turned out we were given just enough time for me to fill a page.  What we came up with was great, each person happening to go in a completely different direction.  Here's my direction.

Reluctantly, he handed over the key.

She looked at him in horror.
"C sharp major? You've got to be kidding me.  I can't play that."
"Well that's going to be a problem, isn't it missy?  I've paid for you to play and you're going to play.  Don't think I won't report you if you play it wrong."

Life as a music slave was not the worst way to survive in the new world.  At least there was food.  At least there was the transfixing joy of playing from your own soul when you weren't working.  Kate wondered.  Was this difficult, angry customer really a music expert from the old world?  Or was he just being harsh out of cruelty?

She decided to risk finding out, risk playing in a way she knew her rendition of the piece would be perfect.  Kate liked playing Bach, even with difficult intervals.  But even the master himself would never have chosen a key with seven sharps.  Kate wondered what he would think if he knew his music was being played by slaves on another world, what kind of sonata or cantata that knowledge would inspire.

She decided.  The risk was worth it.  Even if discovered the punishment wouldn't be much worse than that for playing badly.  The thought of being separated from her precious piano for a day, a week, longer, was almost unbearable.

Kate looked at the man.  He was sweating in anticipation of hearing.  He looked more a fool than a musician.

C sharp major.  No thanks.  Kate knew she would be playing the Goldberg Variations in C.  Just a semitone out.  And no sharps.  He wouldn't notice would he?

She placed her fingers on the keys, took a deep breath and began her performance.

The Flying Monkeys of Oz - Shattered Earth And Panic

The Flying Monkeys Of Oz

Click Here For the Introduction And Contents Page

Click Here For the Previous Chapter

Click Here For the Following Chapter

I have written some happy words recently.  Some strange little tales and some poems.  I've written songs too which is a new experience and one that's meant a lot to me.  One of those songs is in a show next week and that is something that amazes me.

The following lines though were free written on a bad day.  This is catharsis.  The day began difficult inside.  It ended more difficult with a level of panic in which being able to do any of the good self care activities I've been learning was impossible.  Or seemed impossible.

On this occasion the winged monkeys seemed to steal me away.

They're not real though.  Only in my head.  And today though I am feeling the effects of the panic and am exhausted, everything seems possible again.

The bad times are not forever.

These lines were written in a song writing workshop.  I was not able to write a song.  Instead I could only go off on my own, find the quietist corner, and write fragments.  I haven't changed a single word.  This is almost as bad as it gets.  The writing is poor.  Another little bit of writing happened in that workshop.  I'll include it at the end because it's not so distressing.  It's almost a proper poem.

Shattered Earth

Can't see the truth through black burn inferno.
Every comfort twisted to lies,
Each non-existent betrayal clue believed.
This shattered earth will not bear life.

Desertion fears, expectations of love turned vile;
Screams of unfaithfulness though nothing is heard;
Squeals of pain upon pain upon agonised illusion
And waterboarded neurons.
It's a brain ripped, reordered, disordered,
Darkened. Opened to its imperfections as criminal offences.
Poisoned by the habitual thwack, thwack, blood-beating
Of the post-traumatic Scorpion King.

And the sky falls. No sun. No moon. Starless.
Until all is black. Then even the infinite vastness crumbles
Into one room. Walls of knives.
Moving. Enclosing. Threatening the end.
Hearing the imagined voices of loved ones, laughing, hating,
Sneering. Spitting. Turned backs. Deserved loss.

In one moment the smooth, calm sea
Was stirred, hurricaned, maelstromed,
As even the molecules burst into atoms
Releasing the energy of all the hurts of a damaged mind,
Absorbing the impetus of the hopes it failed to receive.

She cried.
Tears spent. Nothing left to do.
She rocked.
Until she died.
At least, one more bitter burn ingredient of fatality.
Not the ultimate, no grand mort.
Just a petit mort. Another scar sign.
Just a strong woman endurance feat.
A desert marathon.
Just another normal day.

Kneeling In The Key Of Life

Stevie Wonder knelt.
The President, racist,
Named him a traitor.

In frightening times
These people of colour
Give me cause to hope.

As they disobey
In simple, silent protest
We witness justice.

But Trump's pastor says
They're lucky they don't get shot.
And I fear again.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

On Leaving Behind The Influence Of The Bruderhof. The End of An Affair

A fabulous piece of art I found on this page.

Until tonight I have continued to try to like and affirm the Bruderhof, a Christian community in the anabaptist tradition.  I have tried for years. I used to succeed.  At one point their literature saved my faith - although I honestly wish now it hadn't.  At that time I was going through a very difficult period and was finding Christian faith hard to accept.  Someone in a support group - an atheist of all people - pointed me to the Bruderhof because they were giving away a few free books.  Without those books I would almost certainly have left Christianity behind in 2001.  It's fair to say that for some years I loved their books, magazines, articles.  From works like Inner Land by their founder, to works by the Blumhardts, to writings about war, and their publications by other people such as Daniel Berrigan, the Jesuit peace campaigner.  I treasured those books.

I liked the Bruderhof especially for their pacifism and love of justice.  They say many things that people of good will can agree with and even, sometimes, aspire to.

On the other hand though they love injustice too and call it Biblical. Hence this article, published today. It's an article that calls LGBT+ affirmation a "plundering" of marriage from our society, an "extinction crisis," and a "looming disaster" that we mustn't forget when dealing with flood victims. (Really. It says that.)

I've just come back from Greenbelt, a mostly Christian festival attended this year by more than 11,000 people, a festival that's affirmed LGBT+ people for a long time, a festival where I am safe to be transgender and my married gay Christian friends can celebrate their love for each other as well as their love for Jesus and the Bible too.

If I prayed, my prayer for the Bruderhof following the death of their long-term leader would be that the next generation of it could embrace the justice of accepting people just as Greenbelt accepts them. I hope too that their founder, Eberhard Arnold, would have managed to walk in acceptance by now. But given that the article is by the son of the leader I doubt it will happen. (The Bruderhof leadership tends to run from father to son.)

Because to discriminate against queer people and then proudly quote the Beatitudes when anyone says you're wrong is something that I think Jesus himself would have been disgusted by. I'm convinced that he would have said that if you're persecuted for acting unjustly then you bloody well deserve it! Sorry guys but any persecution arising is because of religious bigotry rather than because you're some imagined heir to an Old Testament prophet.

And when you call the idea of accepting people like me an "extinction crisis" you don't deserve to be supported by people like me. Yes, you stand against war and for much that is good. But so do many other groups who have learned not to use and misuse an ancient religious text as an excuse for such homophobic and transphobic statements.

I've enjoyed much that the Bruderhof have published. At one point I had an entire shelf of their books. But it's increasingly hard to own Plough Books knowing they come from an organisation that hates what I am while proclaiming they love people like me.

Perhaps, and with reluctance too, it's time to move on. To chuck out many of those books, especially those written more recently, in an age where homophobia is - at least in the countries in which the Bruderhof operates - a negative counter-cultural statement rather than any kind of societal assumption.
Perhaps I must say goodbye.  It shouldn't be that hard.  I'm no longer a Christian of any variety and as I look at Christians around me a great many work hard for peace, fraternity, love, justice and all manner of spiritual and physical fruits while at the same time embracing the queer communities.
Not just perhaps.  Definitely.
Because I don't need to have my "transgender self-conception" forgiven and overcome.  No thank you.  And when you say that my very existence as myself needs to be forgiven, ultimately that's a statement not of love.  It's a statement of violence, of rejection, of hatred of my very person.

I would say that to any Christian who tells me I need to be forgiven and healed for being transgender.  You hate me.  Pure and simple.  No matter how many fine words you speak about love and truth.  You hate me.

Humbly, people of the Bruderhof, I would ask you to seek new light.  I would ask you to consider whether there are other ways to interpret your holy book and the society and people who wrote it.  Many other Christians have managed to do so and some of those are staunch and unswerving in their great devotion to the texts before them and to the saviour they believe in.

If they can do it, take the risk of having been wrong, can you do it too?

My own love affair with the Bruderhof has been waning for some time.  It is now over.  I can't be in love with those who see me as part of a potential end to the human race just for existing and daring to stand up and be who I am.  I can't be in love with the haters who are too proud to admit they intentionally fail to walk in the love their Jesus speaks of.
Life is too short and too precious to waste more of it in even quiet support of the Bruderhof.  Wisdom must prevail in this case.  When there are Christians like the ones I met at Greenbelt this weekend, who could ever need the Bruderhof?

A couple of follow-on posts for today.
The first concerns a response to the Nashville Statement by a denomination of which I was a member:

The Nashville Statement on "Biblical Sexuality" was recently published by a coalition of conservative Christians. Last night I read the response of the Bruderhof Communities to the statement and it prompted a regretful blog post.

This is the response of Metropolitan Community Church. Until I quit church totally I was a member of this denomination.

I no longer believe in God but I see in this response a far greater witness to all that is life, love, wonder, and compassion. Here's a short section:

"WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives transforming power, and that this power enables a follower of Jesus to put to death the siren song of the sins of legalism, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, and willful ignorance. We affirm that to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is to walk in the full embrace of all of God's children."

I'd like to thank Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Denomination and Northern Lights MCC for continuing to be beacons of love and inclusion in our communities.

I'd like to thank too all the other Christian groups and individuals who have taken the step of accepting LGBT+ people, sometimes very bravely and with the real risk of total rejection by other Christians.

I'm glad that many such Christians remain my friends. Some of you are LGBTQIA+. Some are not. Thanks to all of you for being you and embracing people like me.
The second concerns the response of a wider group of Christians:

Another follow up to my post about the Bruderhof and the homophobic, transphobic statement released this week by various evangelical Christians.

Here's a response to the statement by a collection of LGBTQIA affirming Christians, some evangelical, some more liberal.

I don't share their faith but I applaud their response. And I see the names of people I greatly respect among the initial signatories.

Monday, 21 August 2017

The Saint Of Oz - Thomas, Apostle of Doubt

The Surprise Doubting Saint Of Oz

Click Here For the Introduction And Contents Page

Click Here For the Previous Chapter

Click Here For the Following Chapter

Saint Thomas, Apostle of Doubt

John 20:29

Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Matthew 13:16

Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.

I did not expect to meet an apostle on the road to the Emerald City. Yet he was there. We walked and talked. A secret passage behind the gods of a shrine in India had led him to Oz.

From grey half-born light
Thomas approached. His face worn
of anxious wrinkles.

Seeing me, he smiled.
Held out his hands in welcome. Said
“Come, Wander with me.”

He showed stark wisdom.
Taught the virtue inherent
In my doubt wrecked life.

Thomas, the despised.
Through a thousand stern sermons
Stoned for his thinking.

But Jesus blessed him
Just as much as men of faith
Who fail to question.

Pronounced salvation
On evidence and emptiness.
Valued the contrasts.

I learned to lose guilt.
Let go the religious critic.
Accept my well-lived way.

Then he turned to leave,
His weight held by trusted staff.
He did not look back.

Consider this: What if the sermons are wrong? What if Jesus was congratulating Thomas for wanting evidence? What if he was pronouncing that faith has to be intelligent and can't be based on nothing – not even a well loved book or its social acceptability.

What if Jesus said, “Well done. You've tested to see whether something is true rather than turning your brain off and being a dumb slave to a Gospel message.”

What if the blessing he gave to those with that unseeing faith arose from his toleration and acceptance of all?

What if he said, “Your faith is a bit silly but I walk the way of love so bless you anyway?”

What if Jesus doesn't want anyone to take statements, especially religious ones at face value?

What if he wants us to test everything in the book about him? Through science. Through history. Through the evidence of our own lives. Through plain common sense.

What if he wants us to let go of everything in our lives, religious or otherwise, that doesn't make sense?

What if Jesus wasn't bearing with the weakness of Thomas but the weakness of his other followers?

I too taught that Thomas was a doubter. I preached it.

But he is not a doubter. He's a questioner. And questioning faith, assumptions, the media, politics, motives, our own souls, and the whole of life is a good thing.

Plato said that the unexamined life is not worth living.

What if Jesus pointed to Thomas and said, “Look, here is an example of the examined life. Follow this example.”

What if the churches got it all wrong? What if the New Testament writers got it all backwards too in the very worship of Jesus rather than the greater light he pointed to?

These are just questions. Do with them what you will.

Embrace me. Condemn my heresy.

I don't mind.

But will you walk with me on the yellow brick road of the examined life and on a road where evidence leads to the risk of rejecting many things we would love to believe in?

I took the risks. Life is now harder. Far less certain. But it is more worthwhile.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Views Of Newcastle Upon Tyne From The Top of Grey's Monument

A week ago today I was fortunate to be able to climb to the top of Grey's Monument in central Newcastle.  At this moment it's raining.  It's grey.  A week ago the weather was perfect.

Through the summer months Newcastle City Guides offer trips to the top of the monument for a few hours on one Saturday a month.  They offer a wide range of guided walks in the city too based around a variety of historical, architectural, and cultural themes.  For more information about the walks or to book your own visit to the monument click this link.

I hadn't been planning to visit.  I'd been hugging people nearby and noticed that the little door at the bottom of the monument was open and people were outside.  I asked one of them how I would be able to go to the top.  I'll be totally honest here.  I didn't even know that tours were offered to the public.

The guide told me about the tours and the website and said that tours were always booked up well in advance.  At that moment the other guide said she had just realised there was one unbooked space.  In ten minutes time.  They wondered about this, because it never happens.

It happened to me though.  So would else could I do?  I paid my four pounds - all city tours currently cost four pounds for adults and two pounds for children - and said farewell to my new friends who had been sharing in the experience of hugging strangers.  Two recent posts on this blog are related to that experience.

Photos were taken.  Many photos.  Some of them were attempted selfies.  Newcastle Upon Tyne is an amazing city.

Grey Street

Grey Street

St. Nicholas Cathedral

In the distance, The Baltic & Millennium Bridge

Looking East


In the far distance, Byker Wall

Towards Newcastle Civic Centre

Emerson Chambers

St. James Park

St James Park & Eldon Square

Emerson Chambers Roof

Part of Eldon Square Shopping Centre

Over the roof of Grainger Market

The steps leading back down

Grainger Market

Grainger Street to Newcastle railway station

The Baltic & Millennium Bridge

55 Degrees North with The Sage beyond and All Saints Church

Grey Street. Theatre Royal on left

Grainger Street

Eldon Square

Good to see one of these flying at Monument

Newcastle Castle Keep, St Nicholas Cathedral
Grainger Street

Theatre Royal