Newcastle was… Newcastle.
Mostly knackering, but not all bad. Could not for the life of me get a seat on the Metro, proving that some things never change. But someone did give me their day ticket, and there was a busker playing the Northumberland pipes in the station. All that was needed was a stottie to get the full Tyneside cliche.
Met up with an old friend whom I’ll call Algernon. Now, we’d not seen each other in literally ten years, and I was really, really worried that my life being basically a pastiche of boom and bust would make for a depressing catchup. Thankfully, his life has also been a bit of a rollercoaster, so we caught up in about five minutes over the first cup of tea (In the same old coffeeshop as we always used to sit in, which is still there despite everything around it being gone), and then were back to the conversations that we were having ten years ago – Ennumerating who had eventually betrayed whom, what happened to various people and institutions, then popping over the River to the Baltic and seeing the exhibits.
Now, on the way down Dean Street, just under the arch, I said “Oh I feel a bit queasy…” and before I knew what was happening, I’d thrown up, a good four-foot projection of basically-fresh Earl Grey, Oramorph, and stomach acid. Algernon, being Algernon, just knelt down beside me and warded off the genuinely-helpful Civil Officers (Who, being geordies, were actually being helpful – It wasn’t “Stop throwing up and lowering the tone” it was “Ee, hinny are you all right pet? Do you want a cuppa?”) and waited until I was back on my feet and steady before continuing on to the art gallery.
Now, the gallery was good-ish; First floor was ceramics (very interesting), second floor was painting (Nice concept, no skill involved) and the third floor was an installation involving plastic buckets and deckchairs and engines and things. It was, frankly, a bit wank.
But by this point, I was feeling like hell – Sicker than sick, blind in one eye, dizzy; I’d fallen over on the second floor, and at that point the staff started buzzing around like helpful flies.
I remember lying on the floor and looking at a now-full plastic bucket, which was not meant to be full, and at a pile of cardboard tubes which were meant to be upright, and now weren’t. I must have been apologising, because Algernon was saying “No, no sorries here, just us, clone of my soul…”
I suspect that I’d passed out, or had a seizure, or something, since the staff were in a panic, debating taxi or ambulance. I went with taxi.
And that was day one of what’s now a six-day migraine.
I also got to catch up with my grandparents, which was really good – Talked about the good old days, looked at the old family photos including a load which I’d never seen before of my Granda and his friends and siblings as a kid, drank a lot of tea, and generally did the whole family thing. Then went and met my cousin’s new baby, who was frankly adorable, even I’ll admit that.
The rest of my time up north is a bit of a blur, due to being rather unwell, but I’m now home and safe, and found a delicious present from an awesome online friend waiting for me when I got back. So things are looking up. And I think me and Algernon are going to keep in touch from now on.