Happy Birthday to Michael!
In this blogposting…

*Local Words
*And Finally…
Get to it…

The AGM took place, as planned, at Oliver’s Cafe on Wednesday 23 February. The company assembled in good order and feasted on meringues, tea-cakes and coffee. It was all very sedate.

Proceedings were enlivened by the presence right next to us of three owls (barn owl, little eagle owl and Asian spotted owl, to be precise) and a kestrel, courtesy of the Ridgeway Wildlife Centre. It was half-term and they were there to raise awareness and funds, as well as to amuse the throngs of kids who gathered round.

It was lovely to see the kids’ faces as the birds swooped across and landed on the special gloves provided for the purpose. I suppose, like the rest of us, they’re townie kids who don’t really get many chances to be up close and personal with eagle owls and kestrels.

A very, very big thankyou to the four truckshunters who went to the trouble of turning up; Hildie, Nev, Linda - and Vivienne, the birthday girl herself.

Hildie suggested that we each bring with us a favourite local dialect word to contribute to Newcastle Library’s list. This was the only item on our AGM agenda and - what with meringues and Asian spotted owls and such - we completely forgot about it. Which is the way of things at AGMs.

So, in the spirit of continuity and good sense…

...here is the shortlist of my favourite local words.
There is some disagreement about the precise meaning of fettle. A dialect dictionary I’ve seen says it means ‘good condition’ but, in my opinion (which has no authority at all), it means simply ‘condition’, good or bad.
I’m not sure how common this is now, but my Nana and Mam used it all the time. It means ‘insipid, bland, ineffectual’. It rhymes with harsh, by the way.
I really love this word. It means ‘screen’ or ‘baffle’ (as in ‘baffle board’, not ‘puzzle’). If anyone can help with its derivation, I’d be very grateful to hear from you.
Again, one of my Nana’s words. It means ‘empty’. Miners (like my Granda) were paid fortnightly; the Friday without pay was ‘baff Friday’.
A pigeon. Not only does it sound so idiomatic - its derivation puzzles me, too.
‘Bothered, irritated, angry’. This is one of my all-time favourites. Last week, my brother discovered its derivation; it is descended from Old French, although I can't imagine how it was imported into the dialect of north-east England. As I’ve found out, the selfsame word is still used in ‘street French’ - facher, ‘to be angry, fed up or irritated’.
'Weak, fragile'.

I'm not sure how many of our traditional local dialect words are falling by the wayside, or how quickly. It's true that Gregg's still bake and sell stotties, but are there any bakers offering fadges?

And, of the words in my list, I've only heard fettle, warsh and femmer used recently.

I’d be seriously interested in your suggestions for words we can add to the list. Get them to me in the any of the usual ways.

Upcoming AGM venues include Birkheads Nursery, the Lit and Phil and the Bowes and Tanfield Railways.

If there are any other venues you’d like us to scandalise, drop me a line.

The mention of meringues earlier has reminded me of a joke we heard from a listener…

A Geordie is attending a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen approaches with a plate of goodies and says ‘Would you like a piece of cake or a meringue?’
Geordie replies ‘No, Your Majesty, you’re quite right - I’d love a piece of cake’.

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com
Vivienne, whose birthday is on Tuesday 22 February...
Happy Birthday!
In this blogposting…
*Local Dialect Words
*The Parking Ticket
*The Human Clock
*Spooky or What
*And Finally...Forsythe and Hatter
Onward and upward…

Our next AGM will take place at 1100 this upcoming Wednesday, 23 February at Oliver’s Cafe in Newcastle’s Grainger Market.

It will be restrained, sedate and genteel. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

And while we’re on the subject….

Hildie sent me an interesting email whose subject should be just up our collective street (as it were). In it, she says that Newcastle Library is attempting to make a list of as many local dialect words as possible, presumably for posterity.

As examples, the Library mentions sneck and hoy. Hildie suggests that everyone who attends the AGM should bring with them a suggested local word for the Library’s list.

I think that’s a brilliant idea. So please come armed with a dialect word for the AGM on Wednesday. Come to think of it, we could conduct our entire business in Northumbrian.

If you can’t or won’t attend the AGM, please send me your suggestions. You can do this by leaving a comment on the blog or by emailing truckshunters@googlemail.com.

Howay then!

Here’s a little story sent to me by Eric and Jean, who run The Commercial in Tantobie. I really like this story because it says so much about the way my own mind works.

‘Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting. Well, for example, the other day, Mary my wife and I went into town and visited a shop.

When we came out, there was a traffic warden writing out a parking ticket. We went up to him and I said, 'Come on, man, how about giving an OAP a break?'

He ignored us and continued writing the ticket.

I called him a ‘stupid git’. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn-out tyres.

So Mary called him a ‘stinking pile of rats‘ manure’. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windscreen with the first.

Then he started writing more tickets. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

Just then our bus arrived, and we got on it and went home.

We try to have a little fun each day now that we're retired. It's important at our age.’

Dave Shannon (whom God preserve) sent me this link in an email. Cut and paste it into your web browser. I hope you like it as much as I do.


When the clock appears, click on it. Analogue will turn to digital.

This, I’m thinking, is what the internet was made for.

Not satisfied with amusements and diversions like The Human Clock, Dave also took it upon himself to send me something even spookier...

This is freaky!
This year we will experience 4 unusual dates...
11/1/11, and

Now take the last 2 digits of the year you were born and add the age you will be this year. It will equal 111.... Crazy, right?


...please say Hello to a couple of people who’ve got in touch to tell me they enjoy reading this blog and the comments you leave on it.

- Robert Forsythe, whose blogger profile (and list of blogs) you can find at
- Martin Hatter, whose profile and details are at

I think you’ll find both of these profiles very interesting indeed. And remember that you can register yourself as a follower of each of their blogs - and get in touch with them direct, too.

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com
In this blogposting…
*Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know
*Words Words Words
*1,001 Buildings: II
Get to it...

...will take place at 1100 next Wednesday 23 February at Oliver’s cafe in Grainger Market, Newcastle.

Naturally, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

It’s been quite a while since we had a list of TYDKYDN. So let’s celebrate its return with a particularly glorious list of trivia sent to me by various truckshunters over the last few weeks.
* Mubarak means ‘blessed’ in Arabic – the same as bent means in Danish
* The national currency of Bulgaria is 100 stotinki to the lev
* More than half the world's buffaloes live in India
* Buenos Aires has more psychiatrists per head than any other city in the world
* Francis Henry Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgewater, gave dinner parties for dogs in Paris
* He also wore each pair of shoes only once then arranged them in rows to measure the passing of time
* An ebberman is defined as 'one who fishes beneath bridges'
* Toast was introduced to Britain in 1661 by Queen Catherine of Braganza, Infanta of Portugal and wife of Charles II
* Hovis was first called Smith's Patent Germ Bread. In 1890 a competition to find a better name was won by Mr Herbert Grime

Some time ago I asked for your nominations for the most beautiful words in the English language. Peter, from South Shields, has emailed me to point out that American lexicographer Wilfred Funk has already declared these words to be the ten most beautiful…
* chimes
* dawn
* golden
* hush
* lullaby
* luminous
* melody
* mist
* murmuring
* tranquil
… and that, in response, playwright Edward Sheldon declared the ugliest words to be…
* funeral parlour
* galluses
* housewife
* intelligentsia

He also sent me a lovely quote from Emperor Charles V:
‘One should speak Spanish to the gods, Italian to lovers, French to friends, German to soldiers, English to geese and Hungarian to horses’.

Thanks to an otherwise mysterious truckshunter called Tracey who, apropos of nothing, sent me this list of one-liners.
‘Armchair travel is a waste of time; it took me three months just to get up the stairs…’
‘Somewhere between murder and suicide is Merseyside…’
‘I opened a colonic irrigation clinic last month. It was going fine until the hosepipe ban…’
‘I was an accountant from the age of 20 to the age of 30, when I was sacked for no apparent reason. What a waste of 14 years that was…’

Here are the next ten buildings that my book says ‘you must see before you die’.
If you’ve seen any of them, please get in touch.
Their timespan is 80AD to 548AD
* The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
* The Pantheon, Rome, Italy
* Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome, Italy (above)
* Hunting Baths, Leptis Magna, Libya
* Arch of Constantine, Rome, Italy
* Church of Santa Costanza, Rome, Italy
* Shaolin Temple, Henan, China
* Haghia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
* San Vitale Basilica, Ravenna, Italy
* Church of San Apollinare, Ravenna, Italy

So far, that’s Italy 8, Egypt 4, Ireland 1, Iraq 1, Greece 1, Syria 1, France 1, Libya 1, China 1, Turkey 1

And we’ve got to the first of the 1,001 that I’ve actually seen: Haghia Sophia in Istanbul.

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com
Charles Darwin
In this blogposting…
*The 2010 IgNobel Awards
*The Darwin Awards
Now - cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war…

It has been drawn to my attention that I neglected to give details of last year’s IgNobel Award winners. I can’t think what came over me.

This blog, which gives a brief run-down of the prizes and winners, is by way of righting that wrong and giving the brave researchers involved their rightful truckshunter credit.

The 2010 IgNobel Awards - given to researchers whose work makes us think and smile - were given last September at the 20th First Annual IgNobel Prize Ceremony at Harvard University and were as follows...

The Engineering Prize went to Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin of the Zoological Society of London and Diane Gendron of Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
They were given the award for perfecting a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter.

The Medicine Prize went to Simon Rietveld of the University of Amsterdam and Ilja van Beest of Tilburg University (also in the Netherlands).
They got the prize for discovering that symptoms of asthma can be treated with a roller-coaster ride.

The Transport Planning Award went to Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Kenji Yumikim and Ryo Kobayashi of Japan, and to Dan Bebber and Mark Fricker of the UK.
They discovered that slime mold can be used to determine the optimal routes for railway tracks.

The Physica Award was given to Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams, and Patricia Priest of the University of Otago, New Zealand.
Their research showed clearly that, on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes.

The Peace Prize went to Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston of Keele University.
They were given the award for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain.

The Prize For Public Health was given to Manuel Barbeito, Charles Mathews, and Larry Taylor of the Industrial Health and Safety Office, Fort Detrick, Maryland, USA.
They were able to determine, by experiment, that microbes cling to bearded scientists.

The Economics Prize was awarded to the executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Magnetar and many other financial institutions, for creating and promoting new ways to invest money — ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.

The Award for Chemistry was given to Eric Adams of MIT, Scott Socolofsky of Texas A&M University, Stephen Masutani of the University of Hawaii, and BP.
They disproved the old belief that oil and water don't mix.

The Management Prize was awarded to Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy.
Their research demonstrated quite clearly and mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people entirely at random.

And finally, the Biology Prize was awarded to Libiao Zhang, Min Tan, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, and Shuyi Zhang of China, and Gareth Jones of the University of Bristol.
Their research scientifically documented fellatio in fruit bats.

...will take place at 1100 on Wednesday 23 February at Oliver’s Cafe in Grainger Market, Newcastle.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Thanks to two truckshunters for emailing me details of the 2011 Darwin Awards, given to people who improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it in the most spectacularly foolhardy ways.

Unfortunately, the Darwin Awards website does not, as yet, include any awards for 2011 and I can find no trace of the stories my emailers mention. If anyone would care to carry out further research, I’d be very grateful.

Congratulations to Argentina, the first South American country to legalise same-sex marriage. It joins a small and weirdly disparate group of countries that have no official heterosexist discrimination of any kind (including the rights of marriage and adoption): Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, South Africa, Spain, Portugal and Canada.

Apparently, it’s all taken Argentina by storm. There have been gay street-parties and a whole new cottage industry (ahem) has sprung up.

Gay people all over the world will be happy at this great leap forward for gay rights in South America. But they will also remember that, in far too many countries of the world, life for gay people - especially gay men - is by no means so acceptable.

The penalty for homosexuality is severe whipping or life imprisonment or both in Tanzania, Barbados and Guyana.

And in the countries listed below, the penalty for being gay is death…

Iran, Pakistan, Mauretania, Burma, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com
In this blogposting…
*1001 Buildings
*A Description of Newcastle
*BBC Newcastle
Proceed with caution…

For reasons entirely outside my control - that is to say, because I made a complete cock-up on the last blogposting - I’m having to change the date (though not the venue) of the next AGM, which will now take place at 1100 on Wednesday 23 February.

Apologies for the usual confusion.

As long as you manage to turn up at the right time and at the right place, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

A particularly thoughtful friend bought me what amounts to my ‘dream book’ for Christmas; it’s called 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die. There’s quite a market in Things To Do/Places To See Before You Die books, videos and even calendars at the moment. I know that some people look down on them as being for daydreamers and armchair travellers, but I don’t see what’s wrong with daydreaming and armchair-travelling - being a keen exponent of both.

It’s the book's focus on individual buildings that I find so attractive and seductive. I’m a great enthusiast for ‘the built environment’, as you’re supposed to call it now. I believe that one of the ways mankind can reach the heights of human cultural endeavour is through the buildings he erects for himself. And this book shows that this endeavour is ancient and worldwide.

It also shows that great buildings - including many ‘you must see before you die’ - do not have to be great cathedrals, mosques, temples, palaces or even avant-garde modern office blocks. There is greatness, too, in some of the humble and almost unnoticed buildings hidden away in villages or open fields.

One of the most humbling and beautiful buildings in the north-east, for example, is Escomb Church, in County Durham. Generally unregarded by ‘the foot that passeth by’, it stands sentinel of its Anglo-Saxon origins; a big blackened barn of a church almost untouched through its 1,400 years - and therefore of immense architectural interest and value. It is arguably the oldest complete building above ground in all of England.

In its way, it is as grand and as magnificent as Durham Cathedral.

I think it might be a whacko idea, over the next few months, to make our way through my lovely new book, a few buildings at a time. I’ll include pictures - and I hope that at least some of them may whet your curiosity to investigate further. After all, the internet’s a wonderful thing!

If anyone has actually visited one or more of these buildings as we go through them, I’d love to hear from you.

We begin in Ireland about 5,200 years ago….

1 Newgrange Burial Chamber, Ireland
2 Step Pyramid of Zoser, Sakkara, Egypt
3 Great Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Egypt
4 Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq (above)
5 Temple of Hatshepshut, Egypt
6 Temple at Luxor, Egypt
7 The Parthenon, Athens, Greece (top)
8 Treasury of Petra, Syria (above)
9 Maison Carree, Nimes, France
10 Pyramid of Cestius, Rome, Italy

So that’s Egypt 4, Ireland 1, Iraq 1, Greece 1, Syria 1, France 1, Italy 1

Another gift book I received (this time from the redoubtable Hildie) was Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North, by broadcaster and journalist Stuart Maconie. It’s a brilliant title, isn’t it?

Stuart is a northerner-in-exile, originally from the Bury area of Lancashire, and the book is his very personal search for a true picture of what the North of England is really all about - its places, people and countryside.

Although basically light-hearted, the book has a serious point to make about how misunderstood, and even unknown, the true north really is. Although it contains some of England’s finest cities and towns, and many of its friendliest people, the North is simply not accustomed to being praised and admired by travel writers. Stuart puts this right in this thought-provoking book.

Reading it reminded me of the reactions of many of the first-time visitors I’ve invited to the north-east, and of the way we tend not to sing the praises of our regional capital nearly loudly enough.

Here is part of what Stuart has to say about Newcastle…

‘The broad, muscular Tyne runs right through the heart of Newcastle and turns a fine city into something quite breathtaking. ...In a pavement cafe overlooking the water, I could only wonder why more people don’t bang on about Newcastle. Not about its economic renaissance or its passionate football supporters or its burgeoning status as the UK’s science and technology capital but just about how bloody goodlooking it is. You get a crick in your neck from gazing up at the stunning and lofty architectural wonders. You do really feel a bit ennobled...especially by close contact with its fabulous bridges.’

It’s about time Newcastle was recognised as being in the Big League of monumental European cities.

For almost my entire career at BBC Radio Newcastle (as I will always insist on calling it) the station was plagued by a bevy of callers who complained that we consistently underplayed, and even sometimes ignored, the role of Sunderland in local affairs; that the station had, in other words, a built-in bias towards Newcastle.

I was recently given a BBC Newcastle business card. The logo for BBC local stations consists of an angular graphic made up of the names of some of the places they serve. On this official BBC Newcastle business card there’s room for Cramlington, Newcastle, South Shields, Morpeth, Durham, Whitley Bay, Berwick, Gateshead, Houghton-le-Spring and Tynemouth.

But not Sunderland. The second-largest centre of population in the region is completely ignored.

The words Be Part Of It are printed in big, bold letters on the back of the card - an invitation presumably not extended to Wearsiders.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com


In this blogposting…
*Bishop Auckland
*Life in France: Special
Engage first gear….

It’s not often that you’ll hear my voice raised in support of anything to do with Bishop Auckland. As far as I’m concerned, it’s mostly a lifeless and dull little town where everyone you see in the street seems to be looking for the way out.

Until recently - for me, at least - its points of interest generally conformed to what interests me in the wider, non-Bishop Auckland, world.

Its name is something of a curiosity, for a start. Auckland seems to be linked in some way to the name of the River Clyde in Scotland, though no-one seems to know how or why. (The terminally curious may want to make a pilgrimage to a pub on the outskirts of the town; it’s called The Aclet, and preserves the name in its ancient form.)

There is another local mystery-name here, too. The little River Gaunless flows into the Wear at Bishop Auckland. Its name means ‘useless’ although, again, nobody seems to know why.

Secondly, Auckland is not a town at all really; it’s the name of an area of land on which four separate settlements have arisen, each with the area’s name attached. St Helen Auckland, West Auckland, St Andrew Auckland (usually called South Church) and of course Bishop Auckland itself.

(Before you visit The Aclet, you could do a lot worse than visit South Church, too. There, bedraggled and forlorn in its litter-strewn and unkempt churchyard, stands St Andrew’s Church, one of the most beautiful 13th-century churches in north-east England and the longest parish church in County Durham. Its shameful neglect is one of the reasons I despise the attitude of the local people to their heritage and surroundings.)

Thirdly, it was this Auckland that George Eden was Earl of when he was Viceroy of India in the 1840s; the Eden family are still closely associated with the former earldom - there is a coaching-inn on the old Great North Road hereabouts called The Eden Arms and the British Prime Minister during the Suez Crisis, Sir Anthony Eden, came from here.

Fourthly, it was to honour the aforementioned George Eden that the city of Auckland in New Zealand was so-named.

Fifthly, the town also possesses one of the region’s most interesting Roman ruins - those of the fort at Binchester (Vinovia in Latin). As well as a short stretch of Dere Street, the Roman road which ran straight through it, you can also see one of the most extensive visible remains of a Roman central-heating system (or 'hypocaust') here.

So suddenly, there’s a lot more to the town than I seem to have been giving it credit for over the years. And I haven’t even mentioned Bishop Auckland Palace yet.

It’s been the official residence of the Bishops of Durham since mediaeval times, when they were Prince Bishops with almost regal powers over their bishopric (which extended north to the Scottish border). As such, they extended it, beautified it and laid out its parkland as a deer park.

As part of the embellishment of his Palace, Bishop Trevor bought 13 paintings in 1746. They were by the celebrated Spanish painter Zurbaran. The Bishop paid £124 for them and was so pleased with his purchase that he built a special room to show them off in - thus accidentally creating what is regarded as the world’s very first de facto art gallery.

This just gets more and more interesting, doesn’t it?

Francisco de Zurbaran flourished in the 17th century and is held in very high regard indeed in Spain - running a close second to the likes of Velazquez and El Greco. He was based in Seville and I have seen the statue of him there, which is why I know about him and why I’m so desperately unhappy about the fate of his 13 Bishop Auckland pictures.

Just think of it. We have, here in the north-east, not just one painting by a supreme Spanish artist of the 17th century but 13. Thirteen.

And we are about to lose them.

Sometimes, those to whom we give the power and authority to care for ourselves and our surroundings manage to concoct the most grotesquely short-sighted and inappropriate policies - and then adopt them. T Dan Smith almost single-handedly destroyed the gracious and noble city centre of Newcastle. Recently, we’ve learned that our forests are to be sold off to private enterprise to raise funds.

And, for the same reason, the Church Commissioners have decided that Bishop Trevor’s priceless collection of Zurbaran paintings must be sold.

I know what you’re thinking. Times are hard, even for the cash-strapped Church of England ( - yeah right). They’re only paintings, after all. And it’s unseemly for the Bishop to have them in his Palace when so many of his flock are so comparatively poor, and getting poorer by the day.

The Commissioners are even looking critically at the concept of a Bishop living in such a Palace at all. Perhaps a terrace-house in Shildon, or a hideous Barratt house on some nameless suburban estate somewhere, would be more appropriate.

But this is not a question for Bishops and Church Commissioners, just as the preservation of Georgian Newcastle should not have been at the mercy of one misguided and bigoted philistine. This is a question for all of us, and it is a question about the value - and the usefulness - of art itself.

From my many contacts with benighted people who have the terrible misfortune not to live in the north-east, I know that a very big part of our regenerative success story has been our investment in public art. The list of such projects is, indeed, impressive, from the humble, moving - and inexpensive - Miners’ Memorial at Easington Colliery, with the ‘cage’ standing lonely and evocative on the cliff-top; the recently-installed seaborne sculpture at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea; the mysterious and mystifying metalwork at Consett; the Pavilion at Peterlee; the walrus (and everything else) in Mowbray Park; BALTIC; and of course The Angel.

And now, the rest of the art-appreciating world is watching to see how we react to the sale of these paintings from Bishop Auckland. Because they realise, as we should, that it is not just the value we place on art that is being called into question, but the value we place on our heritage - especially when it’s under threat and times are hard.

T Dan Smith demolished whole streets of buildings that were of international importance because they stood on prime real-estate land and there was money to be made. We wouldn’t do that now, though, would we? Would we?

These paintings should be brought to Durham City. A special gallery should be made for them, perhaps as part of the Cathedral cloisters. That way, we would be celebrating them the way Bishop Trevor did in 1746.

I suspect that, if these paintings were in the possession of the Archbishop of Canterbury, or of York - if they were in Lambeth or Fulham Palace or at Bishopthorpe - no-one would even dream of suggesting that they be sold. But the north-east is a long way from England’s artistic decision-makers in London - many of whom, I have no doubt, are itching to get their hands on them.

It may already be too late. The Zurbarans may already be destined for the auction room - and perhaps the living-rooms of one or more of the 18 multi-millionaires in the Cabinet, any one of whom could easily cough up the £15m or so needed to keep them here.

Because they are so remote from our reality, we must strive to convince them that, despite hard times - or maybe even because of them - we know more than just the price of heritage and art. We know its value.

And while I’m in this bolshy, stand-up-and-protest, mood…

Something very strange and unsettling is happening in France at the moment. And it’s all because of a book. Well, not a book, even. A pamphlet. It’s only about 6 pages long and France is getting very worked up about it.

It was written by a 93-year old called Stephane Hassel and it’s called Indignez-Vous!, which translates roughly as Get Angry!

Stephane is a national hero in France; a survivor of the Resistance and a passionate believer in ‘peace and people’. And Get Angry! is an incitement to do exactly that. To rescue the world of work and art and social responsibility and dignity from the claws of the venal, the corrupt and the avaricious.

It is inflaming many parts of French society. Sarko himself (the 'Garden Gnome', as his millions of detractors call him there) is unsettled by it. It has been translated into English and several other languages. You may find some extracts from it on the internet.

M Hassel’s personality, his heroic history and his conclusions about the world we have created for ourselves and our children have combined to inspire me to read his treatise - in French (just in case anything gets lost in translation). This means that I’m only up to page 2 - and I’m already primed to agitate, protest and complain as volubly as I can.

When I and my generation had a chance to change the world for the better, in the 60s, we failed catastrophically. Instead, we produced the cesspit of money-grubbing corporate selfishness through which we’re all wading now. Putting Number One first is now the expected norm and the ideals of selflessness that inspired post-war social welfare policies throughout western Europe are under attack.

I want to be living proof, though, that you’re never too old to Get Angry!

...will take place at 1100 on Monday 21 February, probably at Oliver’s in Grainger Market.

Bring a placard.

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com