This book is the result of a very personal journey which started almost forty years ago at school when I was constantly called "stupid" by the teachers for being slow, struggling to read, keeping up with lessons and often falling asleep in class – now recognised as symptoms of dyslexia. Of course dyslexia had no meaning in the 1970s and the "solution" was some form of physical punishment to somehow jolt "intelligence" into me! Thankfully society has moved on...
As the title suggests it’s an insight, a tour of my home city of Newcastle upon Tyne and its changing face over the years.
Although I failed in most subjects, somehow I still managed to excel in a local history project as a part of my final exams. Struggling for an idea I found a colour photograph taken in 1929 by my father of the North East Coast Exhibition for which I did not really know anything about, but this was the inspiration that quickly built up into a project comprising of 20 stories of events and significant buildings within the City of Newcastle. I divided it into two sections; before 1900 and afterwards, up to what was the present day of 1977, hence the original title of the book; "Newcastle Old and New", concluding with a "vision of the future" - quite ambitious for a 16 year old lad?
An unexpected pass mark was achieved which, not only shone against a bleak background but, I left school with something to be proud of. However for the next 35 years of dead end jobs, five redundancies and then going on to build two businesses, "The Book" laid buried like a time capsule until one day my wife Alison came across it. Intrigued, she read it cover to cover with ease and loved it! Soon after I was convinced by an ex-journalist friend to help me refresh it and put into print as he felt that, not only would it uncover many hidden stories but had the potential to appeal to others. Now three years on this ambition is almost complete.
If you want to hear a very personal insight to the journey so far check out Mike's story behind the book here
Firstly, I want to stand proud on the stage at the book launch and show to the world that I am not as stupid as I was told so many times all those years ago by my teachers - I may be dyslexic but I have a life and a book to be proud of!
Secondly, in my research for rewriting the 1929 North East Coast Exhibition chapter, I discovered that for every millionth visitor a gold watch was given, so there are at least four gold watches out there buried out of sight. Wouldn’t it be great to track down the stories behind those watches?
Incidentally as I write, I hear that the last remaining building is to be converted into a pub! This campaign will help keep those memories alive.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time and interest in my campaign. I suspect that if you are reading this then you too have a dream - I think John Lennon’s infamous line sums it up…
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I am not the only one,
I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one”