From Geordie Shore to Germany

by James Glazebrook

We’ve recently been made aware that the überlin origin story is incomplete. We use phrases like “London to Berlin”, “LDN to BLN” and “London refugees”, but that’s an oversimplification. Yes, we lived there for five years, and it’s convenient to describe Berlin as being so much cheaper/more liveable/awesomer(?) than London, but that’s not where we’re from. No, both Zoë and myself grew up in the North East of England, in a city called Newcastle upon Tyne.

I’m always surprised when Germans have heard of Newcastle. They may only know Newcastle United FC, and sometimes Newcastle Brown Ale, but as football and drinking makes up 90% of our culture, all they’re missing is the details. Apart from one poor girl who’d had the misfortune to spend a year in Newcastle as a student, for whom this VICE article will make for uncomfortable reading:


That article is ostensibly about a new generation of students, The Lads, but it’s really about Newcastle. Our hometown is the *only* choice for lads who want to spend their University years drinking, having their faces tattooed on their arses, and getting rapey with the lasses. But local competition to be “Britain’s Biggest Lads” is fierce, coming from these plucked-and-preened trannies with Schwarzenegger bodies and a thirst for fanny:

The Geordie Shore lads and lasses might be extreme examples, but they’re just at the end of a scale on which almost every Toon-dweller sits. The flipside of the stereotype is that we love to party, have a fucking crackin’ sense a’ humour, and are really friendly (unless you come from south of the River Tyne). That’s why stag and hen dos from all over the country flock to the Bigg Market, a concentration of bars and clubs pegged by VICE as “the roughest part of Newcastle City Centre” but which has also been voted

Great Britain’s no. 1 tourist attraction. In the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Destination Awards for European Nightlife destinations, four of the UK’s nightspots finished in the top 10; Newcastle was awarded 3rd Place behind London, and Berlin

(bold disbelief my own)

Here’s what the Toon’s nightlife is really like:

But it’s not all bad. There’s the Happy Chip, where you can buy poppers with your kebab, and Curry Hell – the world’s hottest curry, free if you can keep it down. There’s a metal club… or there was, until they paved it and put up a parking lot (seriously). In a lot of ways, Newcastle moulded us into the people we are today – Zoë, a true diamond in the rough, and me, just rough. And even though I’d been away to university, went travelling and moved to Edinburgh, it was when I returned to Newcastle that I met Zo – in this very club:


Let’s ‘ave it! I actually went to school with R Kelly in the background…

So that’s us. If you’re still interested in our home toon, here are some FAST GEORDIE FACTS what we’ll lorn ya reet good man:

  • The “castle” in Newcastle is pronounced like “hassle” not “parcel”. If you really want to fit in, say NEW’ASSIL MAN.
  • Real Geordies don’t say “Howay” (meaning: come on), we say “Hawez”.
  • We invented the word “chav“. Seriously, we’ve been calling people “charvers” since at least the 90s, when the tracksuits were way more gaudy.
  • Despite having no decent live venues (at least when I lived there), the North East has produced some amazing musicians: Venom, The Animals, Dire Straits, The Wildheartsyourcodenameis:milo and Bryan Ferry
  • We’ve also given the world Ant and Dec, Jimmy Nail, Sting and Cheryl Kerl. Sorry.
  • The first Geordie came about when a Scotsman shagged a sheep. At least that’s what a (Scottish) festival-goer told me once.

[EDIT: For a great rant about why we love to hate Geordie Shore, check out Charlie Brooker’s Guardian column]