Nov 27 2014

Akenside Syndrome: Scratching the Surface of Geordie Identity


Joe Sharkey at the launch of his new book

Newcastle-born and bred Joe Sharkey has written a book to highlight Akenside Syndrome. The syndrome is described as

“A condition of feeling ambivalent towards Newcastle or Tyneside despite often retaining a strong emotional bond with and/or sincere affection for the area.  A vague sense of unease and feeling of not quite belonging or fitting in is also a common characteristic of the condition.”

Akenside Syndrome: Scratching the Surface of Geordie Identity was published on 3rd November and features extracts from exclusive interviews with former Newcastle United owner Sir John Hall, Tim Healy of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Viz creator Chris Donald and many more.

The book is provocative and outspoken yet overwhelmingly empathetic, seeking to free the word Geordie from restrictive stereotypes.  This unflinching analysis aims to discover what it is about Geordie culture and identity that causes Akenside Syndrome:

‘We look too much inward on ourselves and sometimes I think maybe in a sense the word ‘Geordie’ draws us in and is a hindrance

Sir John Hall

‘It’s almost a bit cartoony.  It’s sort of cartoon Geordies.  Like the Andy Capp thing – it is a bit embarrassing.  But at the same time I’m not one who’s trying to distance myself from it completely, the way some people do’

Chris Donald

‘A lot of Geordies are frightened, I think.  It’s so sad when you hear people going away and their voices start changing and they get this ridiculous voice that’s half and half’

Tim Healy

  • Why does Sir John Hall, who coined the phrase ‘Geordie Nation’, believe that the word Geordie can actually be a hindrance?
  • Why did Chris Donald feel he couldn’t call himself a Geordie whilst growing up in Newcastle?
  • Why did former Big Brother contestant Narinder Kaur, also interviewed for the book, say she would never bring her kids up in Newcastle?
  • Why has AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson insisted that trying to stay in the city after he became famous was the dumbest thing he ever did?
  • What makes Tim Healy think that some Geordies who leave Tyneside are frightened about their accents?
  • Why have Sting and Robson Green talked of a sense of ‘escaping’ the area?

With chapters on Class, Accent, Drink, Football, Women, Gay, Race, Politics, RGS, Viz and the Arts, these questions and many more are given a thorough examination.

Over £700 was raised for Target Ovarian Cancer at the launch at The Tyne Bar in Newcastle and a donation from every hardback copy sold will be made to the charity.


Buy the book here

Contact the author

Tel: 07419 122301 or 01730 267104