BACK IN TUEBINGEN NOVEMBER 15TH TO 18TH FOR TUEBINGEN/DURHAM 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

BACK IN TUEBINGEN NOVEMBER 15TH TO 18TH FOR TUEBINGEN/DURHAM 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

29.10.17

HEXHAM RIOT 1761






































In 1761 a new Militia Act came into force. Strangely it managed to arouse strong negative feelings in both ordinary working people and the ruling class: the former because a ballot system of recruitment - essentially conscription - was resented; the latter as training the masses to use weapons was felt to be dangerous for the future, priming them for revolution.
On March 9th 1761 a large crowd gathered in Hexham Market Place to protest about the ballot system, some putting the numbers as high as 5000, though a few hundred is more likely. For several hours the leaders of the protest talked with the magistrates, remonstrating about the imposition. Those magistrates feared violence, and brought in a force of the North Yorks Militia as protection against a mob attack. Their presence, however, probably further enflamed tempers.
Eventually the magistrates lost patience, and the Riot Act was read. As the crowd turned uglier, the soldiers fixed bayonets. The mob, by now its fierier members armed with tools and staves, charged. Two soldiers were killed with guns grabbed from them or their comrades, then a volley or far more probably a series of volleys was fired into the rioters. When the smoke cleared at least 50 were dead, including the two soldiers. Another 300 or more were injured, some of them dying later of their wounds. Among the dead were two pregnant women.
A hunt went on over the next few weeks for anyone known to have participated in the riot, taking in not just Hexham but the settlements around it, the list of casualties showing people from Corbridge, Slayley, Stamfordham and Ryall among many others had been involved. Unsurprisingly the North Yorks Militia earned the sobriquet The Hexham Butchers after the event.





TUESDAY MARCH 10TH 1761


‘The Market Place was a tragic sight. Bodies of the dead and wounded lay scattered. The ground was stained with blood and the cries of the wounded were pitiful. The following day it rained, washing away the traces.’


Wash away the day,
wash the pain away,
sweep the remains of yesterday
into the racing river.
Beat the Dead March,
bang the old drum,
heal Hexham’s bust bones
and cry me a river,
cry the Water of Tyne.
Wash away the day
and wash this pain away.


 

A PITMAN DEAD


With blood gushing out of his boot tops,
a well-dressed man
leaves town
along Priestpopple.
Thirteen men lie inside the Abbey,
not owned.
Numbers are found dead upon the roads.
Big with child, Sarah Carter shot,
the musket ball found in the child’s belly.
Thrice into a man’s body
lying at James Charlton’s shop door
it’s said they ran theIr bayonets;
and a pitman dead,
a weaver:
all those broken days of history,
all the slain hours in our diaries.
Sound the Abbey’s bells!
Let them toll the severed minutes.
Let them celebrate
the end of torture.
Let them gush
with rejoicing
for more peaceful times.



THERE’S A RIOT


These streets,
in this Heart of All England,
are swept clean of blood.
But the stains still soak our books.
Death upon death,
we turn the pages;
in between the lines,
we read about the screams,
time’s bullets
tearing flesh away.
There is terror lurking in this Market Place,
just scrape away the skin
and, deep down,
there’s a Riot:
a commotion boiling
a terrible turbulence,
a throbbing pain.
It is a Riot of gore,
a torrential downpour
of weeping:
a seeping sore
that is Hexham’s History.




KEITH ARMSTRONG

THOMAS SPENCE - THE HIVE OF LIBERTY








































https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IMy-h2re3g

 


(AFTER THE NAME OF THOMAS SPENCE’S BOOKSHOP AT 8 LITTLE TURNSTILE, HIGH HOLBORN)


I am a small and humble man,
my body frail and broken.
I strive to do the best I can.
I spend my life on tokens.

I traipse through Holborn all alone,
hawking crazy notions.
I am the lonely people’s friend.
I live on schemes and potions.

For, in my heart and in my mind,
ideas swarm right through me.
Yes, in this Hive of Liberty,
my words just flow like wine,
my words just flow like wine.

I am a teeming worker bee.
My dignity is working.
My restless thoughts swell like the sea.
My fantasies I’m stoking.

There is a rebel inside me,
a sting about to strike.
I hawk my works around the street.
I put the world to rights.

For, in my heart and in my mind,
ideas swarm right through me.
Yes, in this Hive of Liberty,
my words just flow like wine,
my words just flow like wine.




KEITH ARMSTRONG





Thomas Spence was born in Newcastle in 1750. Spence was the leading English revolutionary of his day, with an unbudgeable commitment to individual and press freedom and the common ownership of the land.


His tracts, such as The Rights of Man (Spence was, perhaps, the first to use the phrase) and The Rights of Infants, along with his utopian visions of 'Crusonia' and 'Spensonia', were the most far-reaching radical statements of the period. Spence was born in poverty and died the same way, after long periods of imprisonment, in 1814. 







27.10.17

FREEDOM FOR NEWCASTLEGATESHEAD!


TUEBINGEN/DURHAM CELEBRATORY POETRY ANTHOLOGY



TUEBINGEN/DURHAM LITERARY/ARTS TWINNING

The partnership with County Durham and the City of Tuebingen in South Germany was established in 1969. 
Poet Doctor Keith Armstrong, who gained his doctorate at the University on Durham in 2007, following on from Bachelor's and Master's degrees there, first visited Tuebingen in November 1987, with the support of the County Council and the Kulturamt in Tuebingen, to give readings and talks for a period of a month. Since then he has travelled to the city over 30 times and helped arrange for Durham poets, musicians and artists and their counterparts in Tuebingen to visit their respective cultural twins.
NOW A UNIQUE ANTHOLOGY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED TO CELEBRATE THIRTY YEARS OF THE LITERARY TWINNING. IT WILL BE LAUNCHED AT THE KULTURHALLE IN TUEBINGEN ON FRIDAY NOVEMBER 17TH AT 18.00. ALL ARE WELCOME TO JOIN THE CELEBRATION. THERE WILL BE A SIMILAR EVENT IN DURHAM AT A LATER DATE (TO BE ANNOUNCED).

PREFACE

People meet, get to know one another, exchange views – and each time something is left behind: a memory, a thought, a connection, an idea which can go on to have a significant impact even many years later.
Twinning, or city partnering, harnesses the very power of meetings to constantly open up new possibilities for citizens to break down barriers. This was why County Durham and the university town of Tübingen first became partner communities in 1969. Many individuals care for and promote this link, which brings together schools, experts, artists, musicians as well as politicians. This is what twinning relationships are all about; strong commitment on the part of people and associations who enjoy taking part in exchanges and which leave an unforgettable and long lasting effect on them and their communities.
One individual in particular stands out in this ongoing exchange between Durham and Tübingen; someone who has connected both places on a literary level for not just a few years, but more than three decades – author, poet and publicist, Dr Keith Armstrong. Thanks to his commitment over the past 30 years, more than 30 authors have found their way to their respective partner regions to seek inspiration for their work.
On the 30th anniversary of Keith Armstrong’s first visit to Tübingen in 1987, this publication seeks to serve as a testament to the strength of the partnership, as well as acknowledging those who have taken part in the project and as a chronicle of all their achievements. Twenty-two authors have contributed their texts, bringing together multiple generations and styles in this anthology which offers a vivid insight into the literary creativity of the twinned communities.


County Durham and Tübingen, Autumn 2017





TUEBINGEN WEBCAM


Look down from the Rathaus
and you will see me plodding
over cobbled tales.
I traipse though the clear night,
eyes stumbling across discarded dreams,
toes aching with raindrops.
My eyes sore with forgetting,
the old square undulates with the rhythm
of catcalls and pigeons
pecking at old folks' bones.
Ancient crows swoop
on market remnants,
the scent of forgotten summers
lingering in the winter’s gutters.
I bowl
down the hill
lurching with words
that spill with slush
and the glitter of ice under the moon.
We are but Swabia’s leaves,
blowing about in a hushed city
that baffles our loves,
scattered
on the flow of the Neckar’s infernal gurgle.
We are grinning away
in our urge
for survival,
in our endurance of boredom,
the hint of romance.
Scan my breath
for more joyful moments,
pan across the skyline
to pick up the Lufthansa throb
in the beautiful clouds.
I will sing again in Tuebingen.
I will kick out the glass on Melancholy Street.
I want to hear Uhland breathe in the daft breeze,
see Hoelderlin brood on a raft.
This world is crazy
and my mind
rejoices in it.





KEITH ARMSTRONG
http://www.northernvoicescommunityprojects.co.uk/Northern_Voices_Community_Projects/Tuebingen_-_Groningen_-_Twinning.html

FURTHER INFORMATION: NORTHERN VOICES COMMUNITY PROJECTS TEL 0044 191 2529531 k.armstrong643@btinternet.com 

MAD MARTINS - TRIPLE ALBUM AND BOOK JUST RELEASED

http://www.mad-martins.co.uk/keith-armstrong

26.10.17

THOMAS BEWICK (1753-1828): FIVE POEMS BY DR KEITH ARMSTRONG




AMEN CORNER

(in memory of Thomas Bewick, wood engraver)

The starlings en masse
roost here now.
They blend with the dark trees
in the twilight
by Bewick's shadowy workshop.
Under the Cathedral spire,

they shriek and gossip

in the chill;

chit-chat of more weather.



I think that Thomas

you could speak to birds,

knew them as you drew their words

in woodblocks.
You coaxed them from their very eggs,
uncaged them -
let them sing on the page.








THE BROTHERLY SOCIETY

London
Depressed you
with its ‘blackguard places’,
its streetwalking ways.
They called you ‘Scotchman’
and you itched for home,
reading the Geordie papers
at the Hole-in-the-Wall. 
And your heart trilled like a blackbird’s
when you rejoined your Whig mates,
putting a world to rights
in the Lion Lounge.

You were back
herding sheep in your roots,
smiling down to your boots
in that Brotherly Society
of Northumbrian cronies:
the wild fields
of Tyne.


RETURN TO CHERRYBURN

Drawing
clear of the city,
you carved your name  
in dogs barks
and birds cries.  
Your infant eyes
kept seeing
the devils in bushes
and the gods
in thrushes.
You loved
to scratch a living.

Avoiding the faces
of strange places,
You dreamed of always
Being a boy,
A bird or a fish,
Awash in the light
Of a dark wood:
A cherry burn.

Footprints home
To remember.  


‘TALE PIECES’



You spent your life
perfecting it,
crafty as a fox
forging a frantic path
across the fields.

To the sound of the Pipes,
you worked your way
to a quiet glade,
died contentedly
devising
‘tale-pieces’:

a tuneful ending
to a drawn-in-day.

       
WALK ON, TOM BEWICK     

Stride Circus Lane
and chip your signature
on the pavement of scrapes and kisses.
pass the Forth
and skirt
its pleasure gardens;
throw your darts in the archery field.
skim the bowling green
and walk on water,
doff your hat to Mrs Waldie;
cut along
old scars of lanes
to the bloody gush of Westgate street;
whistle with birds
in a vicar’s garden,
let warm thoughts fly in Tyneside sun
to bless this Geordie day.
And greet
the morning hours,
Aunt Blackett and Gilbert Gray,
sing to free the world,
the Black Boy;
harmonise your mind
in a churchyard of melancholy.
Dance over the Lort Burn,
in the sun in your eyes,
flooding your workshop
with a light fantastic.
Your shoulders so proud
rub with the building girls
and lady barbers
along Sandhill;
the boats of your dreams
bridge the aching Tyne,
ships groaning
in the tender daylight,
longing for the healing moon;
a keelman’s fantasies
of quayside flesh
and the seething sea.
You trip along
searching for electricity and magnetism
in the inns,
winging it
with the bird catchers and canary breeders,
the dirty colliers and the harping whalers.
Walk on Tom,
execute
a portrait
of a hanging man;
let your strong heart
swell with the complex passion
of common folk.

22.10.17

OUR SPITTAL - POEMS: KEITH ARMSTRONG PHOTOS: TONY WHITTLE







































































Tammy Spence he had no sense,
he bought a fiddle for eighteen pence
and all the tunes that he could play
was ‘O’er the Hills and Far Away’.
From Cow Road to Hud’s Head,
Toppye Knowe Stone and Spittal Point,
we have dredged the coal
and snapped up fish
with ‘Lovely Polly’ and all.
We have ground the corn and bone,
found the iron and cured and smoked.
We have worshipped Bart and lifeboats
and prayed to Paul and John.
We have staggered on in rain and nonconformity.
We have lurched along old shores,
drowned the thirst of sailors
with the rattling old Town Bell and the tunes of jolly Jack,
whistled and fiddled away
in the bright Red Lion light.
Jesus Light of the World,
we are the history in the barrel,
in the soaring wind
and in the foaming waves:
it is our blood,
it is our bread,
it is our Spittal,
our mirrored past.


TALES OF SPITTAL

This small space
for tall tales,
the leprous tongues of centuries,
hospitalised gossips,
words drifting out of ward windows
on a dripping wet afternoon.
Church reduced to a hung silence,
closed hearts
ready for a drink.
And there’s this man
like a tea leaf in the corners
of the Blenheim or the Red Lion or The Albion.
He’s gagging for a chat about the old days,
it’s on the lips of driftwood,
swirling in the blown down days.
Tug the fruit machine,
wallop down a pie-eyed dream.
The ghosts of Victorian ladies
hiss along the promenade
as we are hit in the face
with sepia breezes.
They come from North Sea places
and from Kelso,
Selkirk and Hawick,
they ripple the surface of the sea
and the leaves in the border forests.
Take the ancient waters,
sips of iron and sulphur,
bathe yourself in history and grime.
Pellets of sleet,
hail a watery charabanc drive,
run a hot bath
down the prom prom prom.
And let the keen and callous wind
whip up the skirts of the Tweedside girls,
so you can dance for your lives.
We are the Spittal folk,
the old Pierrots,
our songs are shattered
on ancient rocks.
Our children skip through the clutter of news.
Bless them,
bless young hearts.
Splash in Bishop’s Water,
in fishing places,
songs of herring and of salmon.
Spittal Rovers
sing again.
Leap for breath
in the ways of Spring.
RICHARD MENDHAM’S SPITTAL TIPPLE
Yon tippling illiterate Spittaler,
that smuggler of drunkenness,
thief and copier of the night.
Across the lines of sobriety,
you lurched,
carving a living
from rich streams
of whisky.
Dodging water bailiffs across rooftops,
creeping down trap stairs,
you and your gang
of fleetfooted drunks
shifted illicit dreams.
Eyes glinting in hidie-holes,
disguised in black cloth and gowns,
you sparked like bar-flies in the dark.
Dancing round brightly,
skipping school lightly,
laughed in your dens of warm cackle.
Shook the village with laughter,
gave the rude sign to Berwick,
pranced till they caught you,
hung you high
from your rafter
for daring to test
the stone-sober law.

*Richard Mendham - 1830s Spittal smuggler and counterfeiter who was tried and executed at Jedburgh in the presence of Sir Walter Scott, Sheriff of Selkirkshire.


DRINKING IN SPITTAL
See me fall out of The Elephant bar,
where I’ve been drinking with salmon.
Spittal foaming from my open mouth.
Lame, maimed, drunken,
dissolute, boisterous and poor,
I have become intoxicated by parties of pleasure.
I have strayed from the Holy Island to Brandy Well,
become awash in luggers of boozers,
staggering on smugglers’ sand.
Gin, brandy, tobacco and silk,
let me cleanse myself in the morning light,
take the clean waters of Jesus.
Walk to the Hallowstell,
past the lepers’ huts,
for drops of holy blood,
strip away with bare hands
this ugly scorbutic humour.
Clean the beaches,
clean Spittal,
clean my weary soul.
I will launch myself
into a seawater bath
and blow hot and cold
with the seasoning.
Calybeate waters of Spittal,
salts of pure iron,
you have me
chained to your heavy drinking cup.
Let my lovely heart sing
with children and larks.
Let me go plodging
in daffodils.


GIRL IN A SPITTAL WINDOW


Glancing moment,
chance look.

I was wondering
where to go,
what to do
in the seaside fret.
I am growing 
misty with dreams:
welcome to my Spittal World.
I am little in this universe,
the sun is falling,
the stars are poised.
The window cleaner
will come in the morning
and wipe yesterday 
away.



KEITH ARMSTRONG












The coastal scenery around Berwick is very fine, with rocks and cliffs, only occasionally interrupted by small bays and harbours. The nearest bathing beach to the town is in the little seaside resort of Spittal, to the south.



I was very impressed by the picture you and Tony created of Spittal.

It struck me that it was in the very best traditions of photo-journalism -

Picture Post recreated for the electronic age.   I thought images and text 

showed great respect and sensibility.





JOHN MAPPLEBECK (Bewick Films)

the jingling geordie

My photo
whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur