So according to a vague memory of an unverified poll that a friend of a friend told me about, a night out in Newcastle-Upon -Tyne in England, was voted the best thing to do in Britain. The best thing. Not just one of the best, but the best.
This is interesting because it is not as if the U.K. has a shallow pool of historical and cultural things to do and see. Even just think of Stone Henge, over 3,000 years old; ‘nah mate, lets get pissed in Newcastle’ Or the WHOLE of the Scottish Highlands or the Lake District, Buckingham Palace, any castle, any cathedral, any field, any T junction, any job centre… OK, I’ll be honest, I’m not that into nights out in Newcastle.
I quickly realised growing up that I was just not fond of vomiting in the street, drinking until passing out, fighting, singing; ‘EN-GER-LAND LA LA LA’, eating terrible food at 3am or giving piggy backs to girls who had taken their high heels off.
I have a get out of jail free card with this tart criticism though, and that is because I grew up not far from Newcastle and experienced it first hand. Thank goodness for that experience, otherwise I was in deep trouble. It is a brave decision to rely soley on someones experience as a cornerstone of decision making. Especially when famed philosophers like Thomas Kuhn failed to consolidate A posteriori knowledge in such a way, but then again I think the people of Newcastle are more into Kant anyway.
So just because I do not like these nights out is not to say other people can’t enjoy them, but I did get the impression whilst I was out that there was an undercurrent of deep seated masculine insecurity which manifested into increasingly ‘macho’ posturing, where by they would do these acts in order to gain the respect and love of others, to fill the void left by the previous ‘macho’ generation who showed them neither love nor respect.
OK, pseudo-philosophical-psychological paragraphs are done. Tick. On to the real magic.
You see, Newcastle is a Jekyll and Hyde city. By night it is covered in beer cans, cheesey chips, vomit and blood, but then a magical team of well trained
mythical creatures street cleaners come in and clean it up in time for the day walkers. It is so clean that by the time the nurses change shifts and the shop doors open, it looks untouched, the floor clean enough to eat your dinner off – something people were doing only hours earlier.
This leaves the exciting prospect that half of the population of Newcastle do not actually realise it is, by night, a dirty party city. They go to bed early when it is nice and clean, they wake up and it is still nice and clean. They recommend it to their ageing friends, as a large city with lots to do but is also very accommodating to those retiring.
On the flip side you have the party goers and party tourists arriving after the day walkers have gone to bed, they have their ‘Great British Night Out™’ as recommended by a poll a friend of a friend assured me exists, and they go back to their hotels and sleep all day. It is a messy, dirty party city to them.
All respect must go to the street cleaners though, they see both worlds, but only for a brief moment.
I don’t know if I would get a job there, as it took me 10 hours to clean a very small apartment today. As the furniture disappears, and the luggage bags are zipped up, it begins to hit me that I need to get ready for the changing of the guard. I am privileged to see this brief moment between two worlds where it neither looks like my place nor the next persons. So, in a few days this will be someone else’s department and its their turn to cover it in vomit, beer cans and cheesey chips.