The sooty streets are shiny with rain. Driving over the Tyne Bridge - watching the people hanging off ropes, dangling over the river repainting meticulously the bones and body of the bridge - the traffic slows to a stop.
In the centre of the city, the shoppers unconcerned with the rain clog the pedestrian avenue. It's Easter and people scurry in and out of the shops. Old women carry mountains of chocolate eggs for their grandchildren, choosing carefully for each beloved treasure. Younger women manoeuvre buggies laden like shopping trolleys, the child hidden among the wrapping, patient and resigned.
Outside the overheated shops the homeless Big Isssue seller competes for attention with the busking saxophonist and the Polish accordion player who's always in the same place.
Containing all these existences and many many more, the city heaves and swells around the dramatic river which travels onwards to the sea, gulls calling and squawking in the salty air.
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