30 November 2007

North East England c 7,500 BC - AD 2007

Purveyors of fake tan and mini-skirts, underperforming football clubs and philanthropic property developers desirous of a favourable outcome at the planning committee are today fleeing southward, following the tragic death of the North-East of England, which has slipped into the fog-covered Tyne mere days after giving birth to a spectacular series of cock-ups ranging from the loss of 25 million child benefit recipients' financial data through the spectacular collapse of Northern Rock and all the way up to a series of "unlawful"(1) donations to the Labour Party (not to mention recent performances by Newcastle United FC, Middlesborough FC and Sunderland AFC).

The North East was first discovered by humanity in or around 7,500BC, when wandering tribes - smitten by the region's beauty and frozen in place by its biting weather - decided to settle near the Tyne and Tees. Little is known of what they did over the next few thousand years but when the Romans arrived in the region in about 46AD they described a people covered in strange dyes and little else, travelling round in small warbands ... a tradition still upheld in Newcastle town centre every night around pub kicking out time.

Over the millennium that followed, North East England would be a place of conflict, seeing scores of battles between Roman and Celt, Celt and Pict, Angle and Briton and Viking and Anglo-Saxon. To this day experts continue to question the causes of so many battles, though the heavy betting remains on the bloke in the silly helmet from the stag party knocking over the mead-flavoured Bacardi breezer of "the fit bird with the big jugs" from the hen night who'd been dancing with the squaddie back on leave and everything kicking off from there. Things carried on in much the same way following the arrival of the Normans, with North East England spending the ensuing centuries being fought over by Scots and English rulers, most of these conflicts ending in the ceremonial handing over of Berwick-on-Tweed to the winner.

Despite all this fighting, North East England was also a thriving cultural centre, with a strong monastic tradition. The monks were initially based at Lindisfarne, though they were to flee inland from the island in the late 9th Century due to fear of Viking attack (apparently one of the monks had made the mistake of "looking at Ivar the Boneless's bird"). Over the years North East England gave the world The Lindisfarne Gospels, the poetry of Caedmon, the Venerable Bede's History of the English People and Paul Gascoigne's rendition of Fog on the Tyne.

With the Industrial Revolution, North East England's vast coal resources were to fuel Britain's foundries and help the birth of new technologies (so much so, indeed, that the phrase "taking coals to Newcastle" came to mean much the same as today's "bringing idiots to The Weakest Link"). The North East also gave birth to George Stephenson's legendary Rocket, the early steam locomotive that - at a top speed of 29 miles per hour - could outpace many a modern GNER intercity train.

In the 20th Century the North East, one of the world's greatest centres of industry, became home to a powerful labour movement. As Britain's power began to wane and its industry was ravaged by the Great Depression, hundreds of Geordies set out from Jarrow to walk to London to lobby Parliament ... though when they got there it turned out that Parliament was otherwise engaged and Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was "washing his hair".

In the 1960s and 70s the region went from fame to infamy following tales of council corruption and dodgy building deals funded by bungs from architect John Poulson. By the 21st Century, however, as our lawyers have asked us to make clear, the North East of England was, happily, no longer associated with allegations of corruption or improper payments. Instead it was to become irrevocably connected with the cock-up, giving birth to a series of managerial errors that would astonish even The Office's David Brent. Whether it be the kind of management that encourages civil servants to pop discs containing secret data in the post, with the password handily written on the discs themselves, that allows banks such as Northern Rock to rack up debt faster than a failing NHS Trust even in the face of a global credit crunch, or that happily channels political donations through third parties even after the "loans for peerages" scandal - all were to be found in the North East. With the stumblebum nature of the region confirmed by the performances of its leading football teams and its reputation now centred on the inability of Newcastle's inhabitants to understand that freezing weather entails wearing more than a boob tube, the North East of England became too ashamed to hold its face up in public any longer and sloped off into the North Sea after weighting its boots with the last of the region's coal.

The North East of England will be commemorated at St Jimmy Nail's Church of the Crumpled Viz. The congregation will sing Dance Ti Thee Daddy from When the Boat Comes In and the theme from Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? before getting into a punch up after someone accidentally knocks over the communion wine.

(1) "unlawful" is a technical political term - it means exactly the same as "illegal" but somehow sounds better.

1 Comment:

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Brilliant, as always.