Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Rise from the ashes of Raby Street.

The Byker Phoenix is a slightly left of centre zine, of sorts, it documents Byker life and can trace its lineage back to the mid 1970s. I recently saw a Queen's jubilee, 1977 copy and it looked identical to how the zine currently looks. I wrote this little thing for the Byker Phoenix nearly a year ago, I was asked at what was then supposedly the last minute before deadline to write something about Hopkirk's Cycle Centre where I work. The piece I wrote was hashed out in minutes and submitted if I remember rightly while I was on holiday somewhere. It suffered minor cuts by my colleagues, but I was still quite happy with it. The Phoenix suffered almost a year of delays in editorial and printing and finally hit the shelves today. A couple of weeks ago the guy from the phoenix who I guess is the editor told me in a very excited way that he was including my piece in the magazine.
OK, Great.
But that he had made a few cuts.
and rejigged it.
Ah, this didn't sound overly wonderful, in fact it was beginning to sound like I had been at best completely misrepresented and artistically compromised and at worst endured a severe bending over whilst having a rolled up left of centre newspaper pushed slowly into my un-lubricated anus.
To my horror as I discovered today upon checking a copy of the phoenix, it was the latter.

You can read a soulless, drained of life and bordering on incomprehensible version of what I wrote in the March/April issue of The Byker Phoenix or you can read the real version below which I'm not particularly proud of anyway.

Hopkirk's cycle centre has been a fixture of Shields Road Byker for over 70 years. The shop has a tradition of using young and enthusiastic labour from the surrounding area's of Byker, Walker and Heaton. These lads (invariably lads tend to be into cycling when young, although this particular bike shop is staffed in the least gender specific way you're likely to find) start at the shop in their teenage years and are moulded from rowdy, clueless and uncouth youths into decent young lads prepared for the modern working world. This tradition has been in place over the decades and is a model that works well. It also works in the shop's favour by getting a constant supply of cheap-ish labour. The act of bringing these lads out of their shells while instilling in them sound work ethics to last a lifetime is very rewarding. Many of these youths go on to work in the stottie factories, or whippet training grounds of Newcastle but some stay on past their teens and become a permanent fixture at the shop helping to fix rusted bicycles or sell shiny new ones to the smiling folk of Shields Road.
Hopkirk's Cycle Centre is filled with a camaraderie I've yet to find in any other workplace, there's no bitchiness or backstabbing. It's this openness and honesty that makes it such an appealing place to work, it's in our firm hopes that this atmosphere is passed on to the customer. Having a constant turn over of young and enthusiastic faces from the local area only adds to the accessibility and acceptance of the shop. The snobbish elitists and overzealous technical jargon spouting no-it-alls synonymous with the bike industry are happily absent from our shop. I firmly believe Hopkirk's is the best place for friendly and honest advice about cycling for novices and professionals alike. The only question left unanswered: Will Rob Ford still be working here in 20 more years?

Here's the type of Walker youth I'm on about. El-boosterino toting an Ak-47 Bitch.


  1. Olly, this is Colin from the Byker Phoenix. Im sweating a bit about this - I am the person who put the layout together and feel bad that you are not happy with the result. The article was edited but I thought that you had agreed that the middle bit could be cut (due to lack of space in the mag). If you would like us to put something in the next issue to clarify what happened let me know. I am happy to meet you to discuss. Colin - bykerphoenix@yahoo.co.uk

  2. hey,
    alright Colin,

    I realise now that I said some pretty harsh stuff on my blog there, but I was kinda bummed about how the piece in the phoenix read. I tend to blow steam on my blog, and you know, vent spleen, that's why I have it. Last night I felt a little misrepresented so I wrote the blog post. To be honest the piece in the phoenix didn't bother me a great deal, I used the cuts as more of an excuse to be cruel and witty. And I guess you were the recipient, unfortunately.

    life can be cruel.

    I'm used to having my editors shred my work but it usually still reads along the lines of what I intended to say, where in the case of the phoenix this wasn't the case. To be fair 'the gaffer' at work made some cuts to it as I mentioned on my blog and I can't even remember what they were. It's possible I was excessively harsh and totally over reacted just to have something to rip on.

    I'd say no hard feelings because in all honesty, I really don't have any, and I feel kinda bad if I bummed you out at all.

    For what it's worth, I'm sorry. I can be an asshole, sometimes even just for the sake of a joke.

    I'm a bad person.

    I know how hard it is to get anything ready to print stage having recently printed a novel and made countless zines all self financed over the years, and I feel bad now.
    Don't let my ranting tarnish the latest issue of Byker Phoenix for you as I was only half serious anyway.