Julia Darling: Searching for a City of Sanctuary

Much of the inspiration for the production of ‘Searching for a City of Sanctuary’ has come from my work at The Cyrenians  homeless charity.

But my other inspiration has been Julia Darling who I worked with, just before she died in April 2005, on a production of  “Manifesto for a New City” written by Julia.

She was a beautiful, kind woman who I used to meet occassionally over the years. She always had a smile for me, was always interested in what was going on in her city.

Below are some of her words that will be in our performance

You can find out more about the show and book your free tickets here

“When I arrived here it was so dark, early evening, deep in a month like January, smouldering with the embers of Christmas. I walked down to the quayside. I was surrounded by voices, by shunting trains, calling to me. I knew I would never leave, that this place was more than a city, more than stones and roads. It was heart and flames. I walked into it. I listened to its rough edges. I settled like a cat in its corners, and I watched it change over decades.

Imagine that you could build a utopia, that this place could be different to any other, a city that was not knitted into capitalism like every other place in the world. A free town, a place of the imagination. Where poets. like me, had the upper hand? What would we do? Has it already been done?

I am not really a political person
I am not someone who goes to meetings
I just like imagining things

I came here looking for a home
And I fell into the arms of the city
And the city was a thin black cat,
And it was a bright red fire
And we were lucky and warm
And the people said come here hinny
Said, have a bed, have a beer, have a blessing
And we will give you the long northern day
And you can lie in the strong hands of night
And so, I never turned back.
And this was my home and my saviour.”

The Manifesto For Tyneside Upon England

“Friends. I am inventing a life in which your ingredients are returned to you!
Our lives are run by car parks, carrier bags, suits and credit cards.

So, from this evening I am removing power from our city leaders
and this city shall be run by its artisans and makers, by bread-kneaders
and stone masons, sculptors and chocolate fanciers, by egg painters and flower arrangers, blacksmiths and conjurors.

The old leaders shall go to the great hall, where they shall be asked to cut up their suits and make them again.

And I am confiscating all luxury flats and offices and giving them rent free to artists and makers.

All property developers shall report to the great hall for retraining in creative play.

All supermarkets will be barricaded, all chain stores closed.

Fenwick’s Fine food, the tobacco shop on Pink Lane, the delicatessen counter in Café Royale, and Brighton Oriental Stores, Taylors on North Shields Fish Quay, the Sweet Shop on Heaton Road, and other particular businesses will be allowed to flourish.

Everyone shall be taught the history of their street. (Joan Miro, the great Catalan artist said that to be truly cosmopolitan we should begin by learning about our home.)

There shall be no brown signs, no information stands, no mobile phone centres, no mobile phones.

We shall each learn a disappearing language.

And there shall be compulsory napping from 2.00 p.m to 3.00 p.m each day. Workforces must be provided with blankets and mattresses. Musicians from the hills shall play them to sleep.

No one should own more than they can carry.

We shall pull down Eldon Square and rebuild it as it was.

I shall rebuild Handyside Arcade.

We shall pull down Swan House Roundabout, and make the Tyne Bridge pedestrian.

Each of us will learn a contemporary dance.

We shall not travel, although we may have pen pals and we are free to imagine travel.

The air of the new city shall smell of pies.

There will be many bicycle repair shops and free bikes.

The city shall be filled with the sounds of making, of sparking metal, of whirring minds, of fresh cheese, of new poetry.

We shall all discuss small things.

There shall be lesbian happy hour between six and seven.

Schools will be small. Doctors will be cheerful.

Everyone shall make their own coffin and use it as a table.

We shall be encouraged to grow English apples and raspberries.

Plain English shall be used at all times.

Porridge and soup will be plentiful.

Visitors , who will come in droves, must bring gifts to the great hall. Perhaps food, chocolate or wine would be appropriate. These gifts shall be shared equally. You cannot enter the city without a gift.

We shall know our saints.

We shall know our devils.

Friends. I am inventing a life in which your ingredients are returned to you!
Our lives are run by car parks, carrier bags, suits and credit cards.

This is my homage to you.”

Julia Darling copywright.

8 thoughts on “Julia Darling: Searching for a City of Sanctuary

  1. hello Julia -lovely words from out there in the void… there should be as many languages as there are tributaries to the river tyne but its too late to cavil over detail. The town is now encrusted with `oh my gods`LOLs wedding dresses bling merchants –the excesses of consumerism and fatuous drivel but its still my favorite town and my home and I love it,

  2. I was at a reading by Liz Lochhead today in Belfast, we were talking afterwards, and she recalled Julia with great fondness. Thanks for this, Alan.

  3. Julia Darling’s The Manifesto For Tyneside Upon England should be read and re-read by every city councillor in Newcastle to remind them of what this city could be.

  4. Beautiful words and ideas from Julia a lovely gifted woman, so poignant to be reminded of her and this piece in these times.

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