Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Radical Lives was the final session of Newcastle Writers Festival and what a glorious tone to finish on.

Hosted by Nancy Cushing, and featuring Vera Deacon, Daniela Heil, and John Maynard. The session celebrated the launch of the book, Radical Newcastle, which features stories from Newcastle's amazing radical past from a range of Novocastrians.

I was completely and utterly hypnotised by this session, and whilst both Daniela and John had interesting words to pass on about their own radical stories, the session was a love-fest for the remarkable and incomparable Vera Deacon.

Now, it is with great shame that I say this was my first exposure to Vera. But I am a Vera convert now and am thrilled to have heard her speak.

I think I worked out Vera was 89 or thereabouts, and what a feisty, joyous soul she was. A soul that has obviously lived the most full and remarkable life.

She rose to her feet and uttered some self deprecating words and then barely paused until her time was up. She spoke about her family background, and her passion and fighting spirit shone through. She had the audience cheering, clapping, and on their feet. I felt equal parts small and insignificant (for my pale life in comparison), and strong and proud (for being a woman and being in her mighty presence).

I wanted to write all about her and what she spoke about, but found my words did her no justice. I typed and deleted, typed and deleted but did not want to be defeated, because Vera would never let herself be defeated. Then I realised the only way Vera should be represented is by her self.

So I shall present you with Vera as she spoke on the day.

How wonderful is The Internet, thanks to Gionnai DiGravio for having the forethought to record this important event for everyone to see.

It is worth every second, so please watch, you will see not only a passionate and loud woman, but a proud and kind soul, with a lot of love to give and much reason to keep fighting the good fight.

I came away from this session feeling proud to be a Novocastrian and proud to be female, I had a new hero and was a little bit in love.

If we all were half as amazing as Vera, imagine what a world we could live in...a far far better one that we already do.

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