When I lived in London I practically tripped over celebrities. I walked past actors in the street (Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman) and served Hollywood stars and musicians in shops (Whoopi Goldberg, Andy Summers, Neil Tennant).  Musicians drove past me in cars (Van Morrison, Annie Lennox) & TV chefs walked by me in central London streets (Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson).


I’ve been living back in my native North East for over six years. I don’t “star spot” as frequently as I did in London but I don’t care. Every so often a famous face pops up. I shared the same train carriage as Lemn Sissay on Wednesday morning. We were both heading south from Newcastle. I realised I’d gone and missed him perform in Sunderland the previous night. Oh dear…


But who needs “celebs” when the North East in general and North Tyneside in particular is teeming with Northern Stars?  Last Thursday I attended The Stanza, a spoken word and music night held in Heaton’s Chillingham Arms pub. Chilly was the word to describe the door. I kept my coat on throughout because I had to see Ken Creen  perform. Ken is a wonderful wordsmith and has the comic timing of Eric Morecambe, Vic Reeves and Dave Allen. He also happens to live near me in North Tyneside.

Ken loves words and shares this love with audiences in a humorous and uplifting way. I nicknamed him The Legendary Ken Creen and the nickname sticks because it’s an accurate description. The truth is always authentic.


The next night I performed at a private party in Whitley Bay. The host was Don, who runs Bay Traders on Whitley Road. It was great to share my poems with the guests and to share the stage with local band The Corn Shacks.

This “Soggy Bottomed” four-piece played American Bluegrass, Carl Perkins covers and even Spirit in the Sky using washboard, whistle, flute, uke, guitar and kazoo. Oh and har-mo-nees. Sweet harmonies.


On this much-hyped Black Friday I wanted to point out Northern Stars twinkling before our eyes: Ken, The Corn Shacks but also local small businesses like Don’s Bay Traders and his neighbours opposite on Whitley Road:  Boo Boo and Ted and Happy Planet Accessories. Pay them a visit anytime and support them next Saturday December 5th on Small Business Saturday.