At half-time during Newcastle United games at their home stadium, St James’ Park, one song is always played. ‘Coming home Newcastle’ was written by Ronnie Lambert, the Geordie busker. In it he captured the feelings of exiled Geordies returning home from abroad or London. He also reflected the love that Geordies feel for their native city.
Newcastle isn’t my home town, but I consider it a second home after numerous visits over the years. My husband is from the city, and I have always received a true Geordie welcome from his family and friends. I think occasionally they even manage to forget that I’m a Londoner!
Terri in her Sunday Stills challenge suggests that we match images related to our favourite song lyrics. I can’t claim that this is a favourite song but it stirs up great memories of matchdays at St James’ Park, back when we actually believed we might win! So I thought I would share some verses of the song, illustrated with images taken mainly in Newcastle on some of those many visits. And I’ve enjoyed myself stylising those photos too, using Nik Color Efex.
A quick warning – the song is in the Geordie dialect, so I apologise if some of the lines have you scratching your head. But that’s part of the fun of sharing it!
‘Ah had te come te London,
Coz ah couldn’t find ay job,
But ah don’t intend te stay long,
If ah make ay few quick bob.’
‘It’s cold up there in Summer,
It’s like sitting inside ay fridge,
But ah wish ah was on the Quayside,
Looking at the owld Tyne Bridge.’
‘Ahm coming home Newcastle,
If ye never win the Cup again,
Ahl brave the dark at St. James’s Park,
At the Gallowgate End in the rain,
Ahm coming home…’
‘And ah love the Geordie heroes,
There’s so many famous names,
Like Lindisfarne and Gazza,
Brendan Foster and the Gateshead games.’
Disclaimer, the photo is of footballer Jackie Milburn, not one of those mentioned above
‘Ahm coming home Newcastle,
Ye can keep ye London wine,
Ahd walk the streets al day al neet,
For ay bottle ay the River Tyne.’
As I mentioned, the song is written in the Geordie dialect, difficult even for most native English speakers to understand! To get an idea what it sounds like you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrySWH_q37Q.
The Geordie dialect
Perhaps more than any other in the country, the Geordie dialect can seem impenetrable to a non-Geordie. The differences between this and standard English fall into three main groups:
– words that are pronounced differently
– words that are unique to Geordie
– and words that are used differently, i.e. in phrases you won’t hear elsewhere in the country.
Most of the song lyrics fall into the first category so you should be able to work them out. You might need some help with ‘neet‘ which means ‘night’, although the context makes that pretty obvious.
As an example of a completely different word, Geordies use ‘bairn’ for a child (like the Norwegian/Swedish/Danish ‘barn’) – a popular local saying is ‘shy bairns get nowt’ meaning ‘if you don’t get ask, you don’t get’.
Similarly, ‘gan’ means go (like the German ‘gehen’). When you learn that ‘hyem’ means home, you can work out that ‘Ah’m gannin hyem’ means ‘I’m going home’.
‘Wor’ means our, or sometimes my (‘wor lass’ means ‘my wife’, while ‘wor Sarah’ refers to a family member called Sarah).
‘Canny’ can mean several things, including fairly/quite, nice and shrewd – you’ll hear it a lot in phrases like ‘canny good’ (quite good) or ‘a canny pint’ (a well-poured, pleasant-tasting beer). Another common positive adjective is ‘champion’ – you can be feeling champion, have a champion night out, etc.
So I hope those few examples, plus the song, have given you an idea of the Geordie dialect. Perhaps if you ever come to the city you’ll be able to understand a little bit more than many other visitors manage to do.
Meanwhile you can practice by translating the joke toilet rules on this sign!