December 5 2019: busker’s swansong

Several times after trips to Tyneside we’ve discordantly reported on the world’s worst busker, an elderly gentleman usually to be found at the foot of the Metro escalator at Newcastle Central. He particularly liked Elvis.

His name was David Stokes, he lived in Gateshead, died last weekend aged 77 and he’d raised £53,000 for local charities. Well, what do you say except Rest in Peace?

David had been a bus conductor, once told the Chronicle that he didn’t realise that he could sing until he was 60, was particularly peeved to be in hospital when the Queen visited the Sage in Gateshead because he was sure that Her Majesty would love to have heard him.

His singing always reminded me of Bob Dylan on his Riding Home for Christmas CD. Those who’ve heard it may understand. His fund raising and his tenacity were truly remarkable.

*Bob Willis, the great fast bowler who died this week, was born in Sunderland. His father, known for some reason as Tannoy, worked for the BBC. It wasn’t his parents who gave him the third forename Dylan, however, it was Willis himself who added it as a teenager in homage to the singer.

The hero worship lasted throughout his life. He may never have heard Riding Home for Christmas.

As yesterday’s blog noted, I was back on BBC Tees today for a journalistic valedictory, the deal clinched by the promise of chocolate biscuits. All denied knowledge of them, not so much as a crumb from Aunty’s table. All that was on offer was a cup of coffee that tasted very much as fly spray must to a bluebottle.

Still, several people – including Ebac Northern League president George Courtney – kindly phoned to say nice things and West Allotment Celtic secretary Ted Ilderton was able to pick it up in Whitley Bay.

How? He asked Alexa, whoever she is. Perhaps he could also ask her for three points for the Arsenal.