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In advance of some meetings in London, I am taking a long weekend to visit the north of England where I was born in this tiny town on the sea about twenty minutes north of Newcastle towards the Scottish border.

In addition to visitng the town and dropping in on relatives I haven't seen in 32 years, I've booked a ticket to a Newcastle United football match on Saturday night. Should be a blast.

Since people in the Newcastle area speak a particular dialect of English called Geordie I may need some help interpreting the football songs, although perhaps that becomes moot after a couple of beverages. When I emigrated to Canada as a kid, I remember being made fun of for calling my mother "me Mam", a typical Geordie construction.

Frankly, I am not sure what to expect about how I will feel going back. The male members of my family, including my father who died shortly after my last visit, were all coal miners. The women as tough as they come. My father and mother emigrated to Canada so that my brother and I could avoid working in the mines. For that, I will always be grateful. Yet, I still feel connected with the people, the mines, the football, the language . . . maybe not the food.

We'll see.

Friday, October 27, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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