Banned From Geordieland

A crowd of terraced houses
with pasty pink faces
turned their backs on me
and I became a jigsaw piece
in the wrong box.
Cos' I didn't say "reet"
quite as often as I should;
cos' I didn't play football
on a desolate field at weekends.

From the school's yard
to that street on Walshy
reverberating voices reminded:
"You're not a proper Geordie yee!
You're too posh!
Living with your Ma with her degree,
sittin in your room reading!"

As if we weren't living
on this bonfire housing estate. 
As if we had a car
or owned a first hand telly
not passed down
from retiring family.

"And anyways
you weren't even born in Newcastle,
you were born in South Shields
that means you're a sand dancer!"

A whisper
of the oceans breeze
across the sand dunes
is what it made me.

It's fair to say
the kids on the estate 
were hard to get on with. 
At the bus stop
the colour of its sour piss reek
one asked what kind of dog I had, 
a castaway mongrel, 
and here's me
in my dirty blue fleece
the rubber zip half chewed off. 
I mumbled some answer
while he burst my lip,
the blood sticking in thick clots
in my hands like acrylic paint. 
He hid behind his older brother
so I couldn't fight back and laughed.
My Mam phoned the police
not for the last time:
glitter of broken glass under car tires;
potato in exhaust pipe.

This was a tale
between two cities:
Hebburn is a limbo. 
Told I was too bookish
to be a Geordie,
too poor to be a toff;
a sort of non-person
pickled cryogenically
in speech and geography
but what of the venerable Bede?

Retreating from grey 
wasteland of childhood,
spent evenings alone
on some land round the back;
the place that used to be flats
till' the council detonated explosives. 
Trees and wild grass covered it now
like the post apocalypse. 
Pieces of rubble there were
King Arthur's stone.
My Swiss army knife a sword titanium,
mind projecting imagination
over every unconstrained organism.

I singled myself out in the end- 
became a proper cliché goth. 
Got an ankle length trench coat too long
with Christmas money off my Grandma, 
sometimes cousin's nail polish black.
It was a really bad look for me that,
considering by this point I was also pretty fat:
I looked like a jacket potato
decorated by Marilyn Manson in art class. 

And I still remember the time
I got eggs thrown at me 
by radgies in The Newie. 
The sun baking the whites milky
on my hot cowhide
like sliced eyeballs
gazing back accusingly. 

Y'know these kind of moments
infect your identity.
And how was I supposed to know back then
these kids weren't an authority
on being a Geordie?
Or that some of them
were actually from Sunderland
(whatever that means).
I decided that if being a Geordie
meant changing the way I spoke,
if it was a certain haircut
or a type of clothes, 
if it meant pretending I was someone else
then I was withdrawing this application
for Geordieness. 
I was deporting myself 
from Geordieland.

Published by Rowan The Poet

Performance poet and yo-yo enthusiast.

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