Thursday, 23 September 2004


The Gateshead Herald & Post is a fine example of the free newspaper.

In addition to a great deal of general advertising, it also incorporates Homemaker Plus, a solid collection of estate agents' pages.

This is the section you turn to when you want to know how your house is doing in the rocketing house market, by comparing with Mrs Cannybody's house when you notice she's just put up a FOR SALE notice.

But it is a newspaper as well. Primarily, it's a purveyor of non-news. All the news that no-one else thinks fit to print.

Last week there was a non-story about a double-decker bus that took a wrong turning and crunched part of the upper deck under a railway bridge.

No-one was hurt.

Nevertheless, the paper devoted quite a few column inches to interviews with passengers who happily speculated on what might have happened had any of them been sitting at the front upstairs (pretending to be the driver).

Occasionally they do come up with some interesting little items, however. Things that are worth following up elsewhere. This week, they carry this report:

Arts summit a coup
A global summit is to be held on Tyneside.
Hundreds of delegates will be in the region for the World Summit on Arts and Culture in June 2006.
Held against the backdrop of the Sage Gateshead, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and Millennium Bridge, it's a massive coup.
It is organised by Arts Council England, North East, and supported by NewcastleGateshead Initiative, the Culture10 scheme.

Not bad for J.B.Priestley's "dirty backlane leading into Newcastle"

Given equal prominence this week is an important story, complete with dreadful puns, about another upcoming cultural event:

Nailing an ambition
Madcap Paul Usher is hoping toe make it big at the Baltic - by donating his personal collection of nail clippings.
As we reported last week, Uruguayan artist Carlos Capelan is to feature his own cuttings as part of his new exhibition when it opens next month at the flagship centre for contemporary art in Gateshead.
Paul has been keeping his own nail trimmings in a plastic box after embarking on a mission to discover how many he could gather in 12 months.
Now two-and-a-half years after starting out, the 30-year-old, from Gosforth, says he has been inspired by Carlos' work and has now offered to donate all his clippings to the artworld.
"I just decided one day to start saving them," he proudly reveals. "I wanted to see how many I could build up but I've never really known what to do with them until now.
"I've been inspired and think giving them to Carlos would ensure they go to a good home. I thought straight away about getting in touch with the Baltic."
Paul, an accounts assistant for a print company, regularly tops up his collection by trimming his toes every 10 days.

The phrase "Get a life" comes instantly to mind, coupled with similar thoughts about the alleged artworks. But I'll hold judgement on that one until I've seen them.

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