In my continuing quest to grow old disgracefully, I am now on a mission to acquire a bike licence. On a recent Saturday morning I joined the leathers brigade and went looking in the toy shops down Westgate Road in Newcastle. The great attraction is that it is a much cheaper road to hell compared with any four wheeled equivalent and my better half gets to choose a new wardrobe; she is oddly excited at the prospect of black leather. However, the Ducati Monster with Girl on a Motorcycle attached is some way off for a novice who has yet to book his CBT.
In the middle of the bike shops are two excellent greasy spoons and in the allies behind there is something quite unexpected. I am sure Geordies know all about this but as a new boy to the area (coming up for twenty years), this was quite a surprise. Walk through Greenfield Place, under the arch which cuts through the terrace and suddenly you are in a city centre oasis. A three storeyed Georgian terrace overlooks mature gardens from ornate iron balconies. A few doors up from the arch a blue plaque declares that Robert Stephenson 1803-1859, Engineer, lived here from his marriage in 1829 until he removed to London in 1883. During this time he designed and constructed the “Rocket” and later the “Planet”, the prototype for more than a century of steam locomotive development.
A little further down the hill is Swinburne Place leading to Summerhill Terrace, another oasis with a small public park. This plaque I found more moving; Mo fought adversity to achieve something quite different but no less remarkable than the feats of Stephenson. “It takes courage to push things forward”. And not just that.
In my experience, success with people is so much more difficult to achieve than success with machines. I always preferred the softer option; I know what it means to work hard on machines. Its a labour of love so please don’t ask me why (with apologies to the Thompson Twins).