I moved North to avoid the heat. I’m overweight, pale and Northern, for god’s sake, I don’t do heat. So I was more than a little pissed off when, having spent the morning feeling smug at all the ‘oh god I am melting’ posts from my London and European friends, I stepped outside and realised that, yes, actually, Newcastle was also very hot. (I blame not being used to double glazing: I hadn’t quite twigged it keeps the place cool as well as hot.)
So I admit I wasn’t in the best of moods when I headed into town – which was mobbed, since there was a con on, a university open day and a cruise ship docked – not helped by the fact I managed to get lost on the way to the very event I had dragged my increasingly sweaty arse out of the house for.Still, after a mere handful of wrong turns, I managed to locate Goldtapped Gallery, the place I was supposed to be for a reading (which is actually… um, super easy to find). I admit I was there less because I was interested in the main speaker – author of Saltwater, Jessica Andrews, whose work I wasn’t familiar with – and more to support a fellow theatre bod, reviewer Lauren Vevers, a talented young writer who I have met a few times at various press nights since I moved back. But I’m pleased I went.
Andrews’ book is partially set in the North East, and her descriptions of vintage shops in town and Washington parties felt instantly familiar to me from my college days (I had friends who lived out in Washington, which seemed distant and exotic to me at the time – no, really – despite the fact I spent most of my time there in bus stops). She was joined not just by Vevers, who read a moving essay about her family, but also novelist Carmen Marcus, who read from her novel How Saints Die, and poet Oliver Doe. Despite the venue being a bit crammed – clearly the event was a bit more popular than they anticipated – all the readings were great, the writers all personable, and the space thankfully cooler than I feared. I might even have indulged in a few book purchases… (I know, I know. I’ll stop soon, I promise…)
And obviously if you are interested in North East writers feel free to check out MEEEEEEEEE.