Linda Colling: Wor Cheryl and a sad city

Cheryl Cole
Cheryl Cole
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EEH, Cheryl pet, it’s gorra be arny a matteruv tyme afor yer on yer way hyem.

Wot wi aal this presher ter mak yer taak propa leik.

Gannin and deein an Eliza Doolittle in LA and losin yer Geordie twang cos them Yanks divvinit knaa wot yer mean leik, why pet ah cannet see yer larnin the lingo leik.

Howay, nee amoont of dosh, even 600 thoosand pund is warth taakin funny leik an levin yer marras for yer new buds.

Tell them aal t’hadaway and loss thesells.

WHAT a mockery of a city we are. What a shambles.

What with one-in-five shops now shut in our main shopping centre, it’s high time the council did the decent thing and bought a giant tarpaulin to cover up our shame with mock shop fronts stretching down Holmeside, along Waterloo Place and round the corner into Fawcett Street.

But don’t stop there, continue the facade around the entire perimeter of the now exposed, eyesore Vaux site.

Or better still just build a wall around our lost city. The council might as well. Because whatever they say to the contrary, they just aren’t doing enough. That’s why plenty of us have given up. And that’s why we don’t shop there any more.

“Shop Sunderland First,” proclaim the banners. Why would we?

Sunderland is a sad and sorry disgrace, forlorn, soulless, a sight, lacking in character. And for those of us who care passionately about canny auld Sunlun we see no hope on the horizon and are fed up that ours is such a forgotten city.

All that’s desultory and dismal now pervades what was a vibrant and proud town. What do we have now? A plethora of prams, pasties and pensioners trailing round as aimless as the air over the city.

How have we reached this pitch? We have no town champion. Sunderland has been on the slide for years and it’s getting worse. I don’t go unless I have to because it’s so depressing. It’s not just in the doldrums its down and out like so many of the people who inhabit The Bridges.

What a fall from graciousness and all that was distinctive, a magnet that drew us in to shop in Holmeside’s classy Jane Jones, Defty’s, Reids and Flynns the jewellers, Josephs, a cornucopia of toys and wonderful doll’s hospital. And now? There’s one section of shuttered shops, ironically displaying painted scenes of cafe society. If only.

Just round the corner was Saxons photographers in Waterloo Place, Hills’ bookshop and brilliant Binns on both sides of Fawcett Street, linked by a tunnel, our imposing Town Hall, Northern Goldsmiths, Woolies and then in High Street East, Blacketts, Walkers the jewellers on Mackie’s corner, Kennedys in Blandford street and Books Fashions in Vine Place.

All we have now is Debenhams, an apology for a proper department store, filled with concessions.

Step outside The Bridges where all the trade has been concentrated and you are in another world, a wasteland of decay, a ghost town. As for lovely Sunniside Gardens, no one goes there except to cut through. And it needs far more than a few concrete seats that have appeared in St Thomas Street to uplift us, where the lardy lasses were munching. We deserve better. With Joplings shuttered, there’s no enticement to venture down there.

And in Blandford Street, now home to the charity shops, it’s as if they have stepped into the breach of proper shops and some have anything but bargain prices. In one, a leather handbag was priced at £49.99. Incredible. Then there was wallpaper at £6.99 and £4.99 a roll. It’s a joke, just like our city.

Then there’s the demeanour of people. So many look so angry. And then there’s the standards of service, so often so sorely lacking. In one cheap Jack shop, one assistant called out to the other “Are ye gaan out on the lash t’neet?” while the manageress of a charity shop shouted, “I’m just gaan for me scran.”

No wonder that not even the gypsy accordion players in Blandford Street and Union Street this week could lift my spirits.

Round the corner in High Street I was confronted by the saddest of sights, the homeless, Sunderland bag man who day in and day out drags his belongings – six cases and as many carrier bags through the city centre.

Pitiful indeed, just like Sunderland.