Ah, North Shields. Truly a bastion of the North. A magnificent representation of our wonderful cultural values – alcoholism, drugs and screaming at your children like it’s an episode of Jeremy Kyle outside of the Metro station, while your husband is off purveying the cheap lager at the local offy.
Residents despise their life
In the centre of Shields, it’s difficult to turn a corner without encountering someone who seems to despise their life. The teenage boys, when they aren’t darting about on BMXs and nearly colliding with your grandma’s favourite dog, have a permanent scowl fixed to their faces. They roam around like outlaws, skulking in the shadows, waiting for the ideal moment to strike with amazingly creative insults. “Ha, you’re so f**kin’ gay, you, mate.” Ouch, they got me. That one hit where it hurts.
Now, while it may come across as if I’m just scathing about disadvantaged individuals abandoned by a broken system, I’m not. I, too, am a disadvantaged individual abandoned by a broken system. You can’t live in North Shields without being one – it’s a prerequisite. The place is a s******e. Abandoned buildings line streets, bedrooms barely big enough for a mattress. A majority of the town is in slum conditions.
The Neglected North
We can’t blame the people for this. The government neglects the North. While we try to scrape by in poverty-stricken towns, slaving away in three part-time jobs, Boris is sat in his cozy room in No. 10, pondering what century-old single malt Scotch he should open with the sole purpose of tipping it down the drain. Life isn’t cut and dry. People here are a result of their circumstances, just like any other person. Poverty is a difficult destination to escape and once you’re locked there, getting out will be a monumental task.
When you’re working against a rigged system, the likelihood is you’ll give up. Most of North Shields has given up. Cigarette butts and empty cans line the streets. There’s a palpable sadness in the air, thickening and poisoning the atmosphere. The streets are a world of hurt. The air smells of exhaust, cigarette smoke and marijuana. The weight of living here bears down on all who enter.
That isn’t Shields. That is poverty. That is the state that the government has placed the North in systematically across decades. A post-Thatcher, post-referendum North Shields feels like Hell because it has been made to be that way. Ship building? Collapsed. Mining? Collapsed. Fishing? Less profitable than ever. The industries that brought great things to this town seem to have simply abandoned us and nothing hurts more than seeing a town brought to its knees.
Avoid Shields or save it.