The Handyside Arcade


At weekends she worked
The Handyside Arcade.
Selling postcards and badges,
saying: right-on and peace and love.

And she smelt of magic,
that we came to imagine.
Like a place in Morocco,
but what did we know.

Oh she would pout like Bardot
I mean Bridget Bardot.
All French girl
transplanted to English.

So on weekends and whenever days,
whenever she was there.
We took turns to
visit her counter.

And that’s how it was
until one day she went.
Taking with her a piece
of our boyhoods.

But in truth I believe,
through manhood and middle years.
She inhabits our dreams,
at weekends through to whenever.

The Handyside Arcade in Newcastle
was the haunt of Hippies, then Punks.
It was demolished  in 81 to make way,
for a big nothing.

Original photo by kind permission of Skida

10 responses to “The Handyside Arcade

  • redgladiola

    Love this! I vividly recall places and people from my childhood who one day retired and disappeared with little fanfare.

    • danmcgill365

      Thanks so much. Newcastle in the UK was ravaged by planners in the 70s, they dismantled one Georgian Arcade (to make way for a highway), numbered the bricks, but left them in a field. It rained, the numbers were washed off and they never put it together . Its a crazy world !

  • Jules

    Fabulous piece of writing.

  • skida

    Much as I enjoyed and identified with the poem, I am a bit miffed to see my photograph of Erica looking at Sharon and Chelle being used without a credit.

    • danmcgill365

      Apologies for using your photo without credit. I can’t actually remember how I obtained the image. I wish I’d taken some photos myself, but did not own a camera when the arcade existed. I’ve replaced your image with a shot of another disappeared North Eastern landmark -the Get Carter car park, where famously Michael Cain threw Bryan Mosley from the top. I took it as my train to London passed through Gateshead.

  • Erica Lewis

    Great poem, well done. Shame the ugly carpark shot replaced a “people” shot. I”ve never seen the shot in question but would love to.
    Clearly I”d like to think the poem was about me.Haha, bit presumptuous as it could have been about many girls working there at the time!!
    If you need a shot of that period then do get in touch as I have many which you could use and I don’t need to be credited!!

  • skida

    “photo by skida” works for me. A link to the original scan on my Panoramio account: – I think right clicking is disabled on Panoramio, but keyboard copy should work.

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