It was my birthday yesterday (thank you for all the well wishes, which warmed the cockles of my heart - much needed, as the external temperature was absolutely bl--dy freezing...), and I decided I would mark the occasion by returning to the land of my birth, Newcastle-under-Lyme. But first, this necessitated the following conversation - all too wearily familiar to every resident thereof - of trying to explain to my travel companion (Mark) where Newcastle is.
Mark: "So Newcastle's in Stoke?"
Me: "No, it's not. It's a completely different place. Never make the mistake of suggesting to anyone from Newcastle that they're from Stoke!"
"But YOU say you're from Stoke when people ask where you're from!"
"I know. That's because if you say Newcastle, people think you mean the one in the North East. Nobody knows where Newcastle-under-Lyme is, but they know Stoke."
"So where were you born, Newcastle or Stoke?"
"Newcastle. But in a hospital called the Royal Stoke."
"Right... But you're actually from Keele."
"Yes. But even less people have heard of that."
"So Keele's in Stoke?"
(To be honest, I don't really understand it myself, and I've been having this conversation for more than three decades...)
Anyway, we took a very pleasant drive from our home in Yorkshire, down through Glossop, Derbyshire, and Buxton - all very beautiful and scenic (the kind of rustic country vistas Americans imagine when they talk of "going to Europe", rather than the more common realities of fried chicken shops and Wetherspoons...), and I was feeling rather celebratory and excited about the prospect of "going home for my birthday", which I had not done for some time. I lived in Stoke (well, actually, Keele and Newcastle...) until I was 23, and - while the area has never been affluent - it was always bustling and busy, with Newcastle high street full of quirky shops, national retailers, cafes, bars, and lively market stalls. As the major town centre serving not just the residents of the nearby conurbations, but also two large universities - Keele and Staffordshire, both just short bus rides away - Saturday afternoons "up 'castle" in the 1990s and early 2000s were always extremely busy and thronged with people.
So imagine what I felt when I saw this. The below pictures were all taken in the centre of Newcastle on Saturday 12th February - Valentine's Day weekend - in the early afternoon.
The streets were virtually deserted, and of the very few establishments that were not closed down and boarded up, none had more than a tiny trickle of custom. Even Boots the Chemist, which used to be so crammed full at weekends, it became a sort of social hub, as you were almost certain to bump into someone you knew, was nearly completely devoid of people, with the small number of staff slumped behind deserted check-outs, looking listless and bored.
As I walked around the place in a state of stunned disbelief and something nearly approaching horror, witnessing more and more desertion and dilapidation, I thought, a town can't function like this! It's not just the lack of businesses and the phenomenal damage that must have caused to the local economy and people's livelihoods, but what the hell is it doing to the regional psyche to be living amongst all this?
The place just seemed completely sunken in hopelessness and ruin - how, I thought, could young, ambitious people walk around here and imagine there was any future for them? It's inconceivable that a town centre just a stone's throw from two major universities which attract huge amounts of money and talent, has been left to rot like this. Why hasn't there been any investment in repairing the damage caused by "the pandemic" and revitalising this once-thriving town centre? It was only relatively recently that a major development of trendy flats was commissioned for the centre of Newcastle - One London Road - because the area had become so popular with young people, who would come from miles around for the nightlife and the culture. To tell a newcomer that now would seem like some sort of very bad joke.
Unfortunately, however, I knew the answer to my own questions. I knew very well why there had not been - and will not be - any investment in regenerating the local economy and culture in Newcastle-under-Lyme nor the surrounding areas. It's because Newcastle, and other similarly disadvantaged areas, have been targeted for what is euphemistically known as 'managed decline'.
In short: it's been targeted for extinction.
I have watched very carefully the trends over the last 12 months regarding "sudden deaths", and I have noticed that they appear to be concentrated in less affluent areas (where families typically don't have the means to hire expensive professionals to investigate sudden, inexplicable deaths). When it was announced that the Covid injection would be rolled out to 12-15 year-olds, I wrote to every school and college in Newcastle and Stoke, warning of the dangers and remonstrating with these institutions not to administer this drug on their premises.
It was therefore a particularly awful shock when I learned that two pupils from one of the schools I wrote to - St. John Fisher Catholic College, which I used to walk past every day when I attended the sixth-form college next door - had "died suddenly" from unexplained causes in the same week.
The school had not actually begun administering vaccines at that time, but large vaccination centres in the area had opened, inviting teenagers to come in over half term to get jabbed. Both of these boys (14 and 15 years old) died in half-term week.
Just weeks later, I read another report of a Stoke schoolboy, aged 12, "dying suddenly" whilst walking to school. Three healthy schoolchildren "dying suddenly" in the same area in the same time frame is completely unprecedented in all of recent history.
I have also now read innumerable reports of healthy people in the Stoke area "dying suddenly" - many of them aged under 50 and with no underlying health conditions. Whilst the tragic reality is that this is happening all over the country and world, the evidence appears to show that it is happening far more frequently in Stoke, and similarly disadvantaged areas, than other, more affluent locations - and that is why Newcastle town centre has been allowed to so dramatically decline, and why this decline is not intended to be reversed: because an area where the population has died out no longer requires any amenities to serve them.
It's a horrifying prospect to contemplate, but that is the obvious answer as to why a recently-thriving locality that caters to tens of thousands of people, has been permitted to degenerate into a ghost town - because "ghost town" is exactly what it is set to become.
Evidence, from resources such as 'How Bad Is My Batch', clearly shows that adverse reactions to the Covid injection are not evenly distributed, but rather, are concentrated in specific areas, e.g., that there appear to be 'hot lots' - specific vaccine batches that are responsible for most of the serious adverse reactions. It is therefore clear to see that specific areas - areas targeted for 'managed decline' - could be, and seemingly have been, supplied with the more dangerous batches.
I sincerely wish with all my heart this analysis was wrong - it's hard to describe how heartbreaking it is to walk around the home town you love and see this happening to it - but my fear is not that I'm wrong (I desperately wish that I was), but that I'm not.
Newcastle-under-Lyme has become so unfashionable and forgotten about that what is now happening to it could almost go by unnoticed - I'm sure we won't be seeing a bleeding heart op-ed in the Guardian about it any time soon - with the dramatic increase in premature, sudden deaths blamed on the area's long-standing struggles with poverty, addiction, and mental illness. There is certainly plenty of the aforementioned in the locality, and more so since "the pandemic" - but I do not believe these are the primary culprits for what we now see happening. Healthy young schoolchildren are not suddenly dropping dead because their parents have low-waged jobs or drink too much.
What is really happening in my hometown seems increasingly, appallingly, obscenely obvious.
I've always so enjoyed "going home for the holidays" (which I haven't done for a long time, my family having left the area some years ago), but not this time. The whole time I was there, I felt like I was being ambushed by a really dark and sinister energy (I started feeling physically ill at one point, with palpitations and dizziness) and the one thought that kept going round and round in my head was "something unspeakable is happening here".
Let's hope I'm wrong. Or if I'm not, that by exposing it - by shining a light on darkness - we can go some way to stopping this evil in its tracks.