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4 June 2003

So. Farewell then, Capital of Culture 2008; it's gone to Liverpool. Obviously I cannot pretend to be balanced or reasonable about this, after having been so passionately invested in the Newcastle Gateshead bid, but I do think it's a shoddy decision. The first of many messages in my mailbox today sums up the general mood: 'Looking backward rather than looking forward,' it says. That may be unfair, but it is how it feels; and the Liverpool people do their own case no good. Their spokesman on Radio 4 this morning was Mike McCartney, brother of the more famous Paul, and the first coherent words he said were 'The Beatles! The Scaffold!' Well, quite. I think we could have done better. I was embarrassed for Liverpool, that seemingly they couldn't; and I was embarrassed for the judges, to have their nomination so swiftly and so ruthlessly exposed.

But just because we lost the bid is no reason to lose what was best within the bid. I will still be campaigning to have Newcastle declare itself the first British City of Refuge. And meanwhile draw comfort from our being the people's choice in every poll I saw, and the bookies' choice, and every damn body's choice except the committee that got to choose. This gives me the chance to mutter in my beard about Other Factors and Political Considerations and such. Not sure I believe it, but give me a straight loss or a bent game and I know which way I want to go. Conspiracy theories, bring 'em on, I need 'em...

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© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.