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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Angel of the North

We were due to go to Newcastle on the train yesterday, to have a look at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Tempest. So we got the tickets at York Railway Station and made our way over to platform 10 where we boarded the train.

We took our coats off and put them in the rack, got our books out and settled down for a quiet journey. Before we got to the theatre we planned to wander around The Baltic, which is the contemporary art gallery down by the river Tyne at Gateshead.

But after a few minutes the train guard announced that the train would not be leaving the station as someone along the track had thrown himself under the train in front of us and would we please leave our carriages and wait for further announcements about the fatality.

We all got back on the platform and someone said cancelling the train was an extreme reaction for a bit of blood on the tracks. That someone wasn’t me.

Most people milled around on the platform and waited for a miracle.

We went for our car and drove to Newcastle in time for the performance of the play.

On the way we called in at the Angel of the North and spent a few minutes in wonder, as a rainbow arrived at the same time:

angel of the north


12 Responses to “Angel of the North”

  1. AndrewE says:

    I’d love to see ‘The Angel of the North’, as well as ‘Another Place’. These impromptu moments that decide the outcome of life in a favourable way are part of what we live for.

    jb says: Hi Andrew, Yes, whatever you do, don’t just drive past.

  2. Oh…sad.
    It’s funny that, though The Tempest stays one of my favourite plays, all I could think about was the person who had thrown himself under the train.

    jb says: He haunted me all day, but I couldn’t get a handle on him. Sheer desperation, I suppose, to go like that?

  3. Kelley Bell says:

    Amazing and truley beautiful.

    jb says: The camera is part of my mobile phone and I had to trim down the image to get it on the page, but in real life . . .

  4. Yes, JB. You’re right.
    To reach a point where he would have totally lost it.

    jb says: In the UK in 2004 (the latest figures from the ONS), there were 5,906 suicides in adults aged 15 and over, which represented 1 per cent of the total of all UK deaths. Almost three-quarters of these suicides were among men.

  5. John, this little dialogue gets sadder by the minute.
    The statistics you provided was news to me but informative.
    Thank you.
    I’m sorry to ramble on so.
    But I also recall being in London last year when there was a death in Southall. A young mother jumped with her 2 toddlers onto the tracks of a fast approaching train. It was an inevitable suicide.
    There was a lot of talk, analysis & sadness in the city.
    I wondered if you’d heard of it.
    In Malaysia, the same thing happened in a little town, a few months ago. A young mother with her 3 children, committed the same act though one suspicious child managed to wriggle free and escape.
    I can’t even envision those final moments and what it would have been like. It’s too painful to bear thinking about.
    The suicides are deliberately masterminded.
    I wonder too, that with such women bearing a formidable attitude towards a premature death, that their strength and cleverness, should be so badly misplaced in this way.
    Thank you for your time, John.

    jb says: Hello again, Susan. It hits harder, somehow, when the lives of young children are involved in a mothers wish to take her own life. I suppose the reasoning is that the children will not have a life without her and that they should, therefore, all go together.

    But we who survive can never really know, only speculate and taste some of the diminishing effects in the shadow of these acts.

  6. Serge says:

    what is the amazing monument! And this picture is also awesome..with rainbow.

  7. Summer Davis says:

    Hi jb!

    Wow! What an experience! Maybe that incident happened for a reason, and that is to see this wonderful sight. The image is so beautiful, the rainbow made it extra special!
    I cannot blame you for wanting to watch “The Tempest”, its one of my favorite pieces from Shakespeare.
    Thank you for posting this!


  8. Mark says:

    What a beautiful photograph.. thanks for the article

  9. Health Insurance says:

    I would love to go visit the angel of the north, it’s very lovely.:) Although i’m sad about the suicide part of the story. 🙁

  10. Pat says:

    I got here looking at the Angel of the North picture, which is really amazing. The combination of wood sculpture and rainbow makes for a great picture. But your story was pretty sad. What a way to decide to end it all, by throwing yourself under a tree. That’s really sad.

  11. Charles says:

    Wow. I know I am very late to this post (like 5 years late) but this is one of the most spectacular statues (or monuments) I’ve ever seen. The rainbow appearing as you got there is very cool. It must have been a special moment. Thank you for sharing it.

  12. Kim Jones says:

    What a nice moment, to see a beautiful bow rainbow behind a the Angel of the North.

    Great Picture.