Because the thing is, I'm not actually living in Berwick any more. I sold my flat there and went to the Antipodes for three months, as previously described on this blog, and I am now living mostly in Newcastle-upon-Tyne while I contemplate the possibility of returning to the Antipodes for a while. I found I couldn't bear to move out of the region described in the heading of this blog, the land between the rivers Forth and Tyne, but I am now living at the far end of it, on the bank of the Tyne. This photo shows two of the bridges across the Tyne, the railway and the swing bridges.
I was fascinated to learn that matching altars to the Roman gods Oceanus and Neptune have been found near the swing bridge, and that Alexander the Great is known to have sacrificed to the same gods when he reached the mouth of the river Indus. Presumably the Romans were conscious that the mouth of a river was the point where they left the land and entered the realm of the sea gods, and so it would be prudent to ask for their protection.
I read somewhere that it may not be mere coincidence that so many rivers on the eastern side of Britain have names beginning with the letter T. The Tyne, the Tees, the Tweed, the Till, the Teviot ... they divide up the region and mark out areas of allegiance and affection. The suggestion from linguists is that these names may all derive from some ur-name beginning with a T that just meant a river, and that would mean there is unity in their diversity. I like that.
Recently I have become deeply gloomy about the political and social strains tearing at the fabric of life in the UK. Nobody could deny that this country faces some really serious problems and challenges. I think that's why I've come to find it so soothing to look at the rivers Tyne and Tweed and imagine the thousands of years that their waters have been flowing to the sea. We fight each other, but the land and the waters outlast us all.
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