jingle jingle!

jingle jingle!


jack common events reminder





BOOK LAUNCH 10.30am to 5pm

10.30am 'From Heaton to Newport Pagnell - in search of Jack' - talk by Heaton born Dr Keith Armstrong, author of 'Common Words and the Wandering Star'
11.15am Short tribute by Jack Common's son, Peter
11.30am Discussion
12.30pm  Lunch
2pm Films - 'Tyneside Story' - film by Jack Common; 'Common's Luck' - B.B.C. TV biography of Jack Common, introduced by its Director, John Mapplebeck of Bewick Films
3pm Dr Keith Armstrong & Peter Common -  short readings from the new book, including poetry
3.45 - 4.45pm Musical celebration with Jez Lowe, songwriter of 'Jack Common's Anthem',  & Tyneside folk group 'Kiddar's Luck'


Contact: Kath Cassidy, Newcastle Libraries tel 0191 2774155 





Room ED 134, School of Education, Leazes Road, Durham

Talk and reading by the author Dr Keith Armstrong

Introductions by Professor Bill Williamson and Professor Mike Fleming

Admisssion free                             Refreshments

Contact: Michelle Wilkinson, School of Education tel 0191 3348310 

Jack Common was born in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne in 1903. His father worked at the locomotive works close to the family house in Heaton. He attended Chillingham Road Council School, where he excelled at essay writing, but left at fourteen to attend commercial college and to work in a solicitor's office. Years of indifferent jobs and unemployment led him to move to London in 1928, partly to foster his political convictions and also to escape unemployment in the north. In 1930 he commenced work as a circulation promoter on The Adelphi, a socialist journal edited by John Middleton Murry, Richard Rees and Max Plowman. He was soon employed as assistant editor and took over editorship for a period in the 1930's. Common was a contributor to The Adelphi and other journals such as New Britain, The Aryan Path and The New Statesman and Nation, but it was The Adelphi which occupied most of his time during the thirties; writing political and social articles, book reviews, a column called "The Sweeper Up" and helping to shape policy and direction by working with the three editors. George Orwell was another contributor to the journal and it was through their working relationship on the journal that they formed a close friendship.
In 1939 The Adelphi was put out of print and Common sought work as a film script writer and editor for government documentary films and lived in Langham, Essex at the Adelphi Centre, a community set up in 1936. After the war he found more film work with Rank Studios as a script advisor and reporter on suitability of novels as film subjects. He also worked as a freelance for the Associated British Picture Corporation during the 1950s and 1960s, again writing and editing scripts. In terms of his published work there are two phases to his work, the political and socially conscious essays of the 1930s and the fictional work of the 1950s, which reflect the work he was undertaking at these times. In 1938 he published Seven Shifts, a collection of seven working men's tales of work which Common edited and introduced. In the same year he published a book of social and political essays The Freedom of the Streets. Kiddar's Luck, the fictionalised autobiography of Jack Common's life up to the age of fourteen, published in 1951, was written under conditions of great hardship. Whilst writing the book he worked as a labourer during the day and wrote and edited film scripts in the evening, using the weekends to write his novel. He was under similar financial pressure when writing The Ampersand, a further autobiographical novel, in 1953-4; despite the favourable reviews given to Kiddar's Luck, the publishers became bankrupt, leaving him without a publisher to market the books and ensuring that the book was not the financial success it should have been. He also produced many articles for contemporary journals and magazines.
He died in 1968 before he could complete his third novel.


back for may day 2010!

tuebingen's past

The Bismarck Tower in Tübingen

Tuebingen students suggested, in January 1900, the construction of the Bismarck Tower. A memorial committee was formed, chaired by Professors Dr. Schleich and Dr. Frank. The committee chose the winning design "Gotterdammerung" by architect Wilhelm Kreis. The City of Tuebingen provided the building site (the highest point on the Schlossberg) free of charge.

The students had for some years had a special relationship to the Schlossberg and they had honoured the Empire in 1871 at 18.01 and annually organized a torchlight procession to the castle hill and lit a fire.

The work was carried out by government architect Franz Baertle from Tuebingen. The 16-metre high tower consists of tuff and coarse-grained sandstone. Inside, there was originally a wooden staircase leading to a platform. The wooden staircase was reopened in 1969, with the last 12 steps of the 63 steps made of steel. The Bismarck Tower remained, in spite of these remedial measures, at least until September 1971, not climbable for visitors.

On the top platform, a fire bowl was featured. Through vandalism and several fires, the tower remained closed until early November 1999.

In 1999, a Tuebingen couple donated the entire cost of the restoration of the tower in the amount of 64,000 DM to enable the Tower to be renovated and made accessible again. On 14.11.1999 it was officially reopened. The fire bowl was removed during the renovation. A sign on the left side of the entrance indicates that the tower was renovated by the Tubingen Cultural Foundation with the donation of the Tübingen couple.

Opening times:
In summer, the Tower is open all day on weekends, otherwise the key can be borrowed from the Tourist Office in Tuebingen.


a noble thought

'the artist is part visionary, part showman, part educator and part trouble-maker.' Adrian Noble

NEWS RELEASE 27/8/2009

Wandering bard Keith Armstrong aka 'The Jingling Geordie' is keeping himself busy. Indeed, he has his hands full with a host of new projects.

Currently poet-in-residence for Newcastle United fanzine 'True Faith', he is planning to publish a selection of his footie verse in 2010.

A new selection of his poetry' Castle Stair Reel' is soon to be published in the States by Baltimore-based 'Hutman Productions'. The selection homes in again on his native North East England to reveal both its sunny and dark sides. As usual, this rootedness is tempered by his strong internationalism with poetry on places as diverse as Berlin, Limerick, Kenya, Tuebingen and Edinburgh. All in all, the new book is an album of songs inspired by Armstrong's strong sense of place, wherever he may be located.

And his biography of Newcastle writer Jack Common, new from the University of Sunderland Press, launches in October with events at Newcastle Central Library on October 17th and at the University of Durham on October 21st.

Also on the publishing front, he's currenty editing a book on the heritage of North Tyneside with the support of North Tyneside Council and Awards for All. Due out at Xmas this one.

When 'Jingling Geordie' is not writing and publishing, he's on reading tours. September sees him giving poetry readings in Ireland, with Groningen City Poet Rense Sinkgraven, and on the Isle of Man, where he delivers his verse on painter John Martin, born in Haydon Bridge but dying on the Isle of Man in 1854.

His links with Groningen, twinned with Newcastle, and Tuebingen, twinned with Durham, continue with visits by Armstrong in 2010 and exchange visits by his Dutch and German counterparts.

In November, Doctor Armstrong's back in Prague.

Finally, his dedicated work on socialist pioneer Thomas Spence comes to fruition in 2010, with the unveiling of a blue plaque on Newcastle's Quayside and related events on Spence's 260th birthday.

Enough to be going on with!




They spent their lives
trying to make ends meet
but met their ends
before such ends could meet.



To please you,
I made a Snow Woman.
It felt just like you,
melted away
in the morning sun.

Keith Armstrong


football diary - from 1997

Verse too: while most Newcastle fans will no doubt go drinking after Wednesday's Champions League tie at PSV Eindhoven, Keith Armstrong, will go to a poetry reading.

The 51-year-old poet and Toon nut will be performing his own works in an all night cafe in Eindhoven, with topics ranging from Jackie Millburn to Hughie Gallacher. Goodness knows how they will go down if Newcastle win.

Keith was invited to perform by the Dutch poet Bart FM Droog, whom he met while visiting the Cuckoo Club in Groningen, Newcastle's twin town. So, when PSV play in Newcastle on November 5, Keith has invited Bart and three other performers, including a didgeridoo player, to do their stuff at a poetry reading in Newcastle.

Hopefully Bart will find a quiet place to stay. For when Keith and his fellow poet Ian Horn slept on the floor of Bart's squat, the avid Magpie got in a flap during the night. Recalls Keith: "We were woken up by three budgies mating in a cage in a corner."

(Martin Thorpe, The Guardian, (UK), 18-10-97)

in iceland again

SNOW, 3 a.m.

Heads filled
with whisky,
we sway along
the whispering streets;
folds of snow
tucked round us,
clean sheets
on a sharp night.
the words
we spill,
float from our mouths.
Traffic lights blink on
long afer the last ghostly car
has crashed
past us
and our families sinking,
sleeping in the deep
drifts of dreams
we carelessly trample underfoot.

This is a land of ice,
of soft light.
A friend guides me to his house,
unveils a bookshelf thick
with fallen thought,
proudly points out
a white and virgin son.
The snow dragged in
with us
between the seconds
of the ticking clock.
We pour out
another whisky,
thaw out,
a slurred path
across paper.



in cuba


jingling in eastern europe

armstrong in kenya


on tour


He pounded the cobbles
of the Castle Garth,
bowling along
with his brain hanging over his neck
and his belly
looming over his huge pants.
His overeducated head
weighed a ton
and bore down
on an arse
fattened on home- made pies.
He was carrying a plan
for the working classes
but forgot his heart was too small,
dwarfed by his huge mouth
and an expensive ego.
He had a board meeting to go to,
the big fart,
and he sweated grants
as he blundered along
to the narrow alley.
He was far too broad of beam really
but he was late for everything,
including his funeral,
and thrust his plates of meat
onto the slippery steps.
History closed in on him,
the Black Gate,
the Keep,
as if to tell him
it wasn’t his,
as if to say
‘get out of my town’.
He squeezed himself onto this narrow stairway
and, like his poetry,
got stuck.
He coudn’t move
for his lack of lyricism.
The Fat Man
was firmly lodged
on Dog Leap Stairs
and the crows
began to gather
to swoop
and pick
the bloated power
from his face.





(for Albert Stubbins & Sergeant Pepper)

I read the news today oh boy,
about a lucky man who made the grade.
I saw the photograph;
a crowd of people stood and stared,
they'd seen his face before,
I just had to look,
having read the book.

Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile;
silly people run around,
they worry me,
turning me round;
I'm doing the best that I can.

Everyone you see is full of life:
people running round,
it's five o' clock.

Picture yourself
in a boat on a river.

Where I belong, I'm right.
Where I belong.




A boat tugs at my roots,
brings out the wordy sailor in me.
I am a poetry boozer,
a staggering ship,
slopping my beer all over the Quay.


tuebingen from the air



(in memory of Bobby Robson, 1933-2009)

For the love of Sir Bobby
we will battle on
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will rise again
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will Gallowgate dream
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will rage on
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will take pride
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will roar by the Tyne
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will rejoice in Newcastle
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will chant on the walls
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will recall the good times
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will brighten our lives
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will drink in the sea
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will sparkle our eyes
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will save our soul
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will keep hold
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will dance with our kids
For the love of Sir Bobby
we will win back our town



the jingling geordie

My photo
whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur