At the weekend, we went up to Hareshaw Lin in Bellingham for a walk. It was lovely exploring this northwestern corner of Northumberland, following the short walk (less than two miles), along the ruins of a former iron foundry on the North River Tyne, to a waterfall (the Lin, in Old English). On our route, we noticed something unusual…
Hundreds of coins inserted into the small slits of the bark of fallen trees. I noticed it in a few sidelong tree stumps, but it was most obvious on this large fallen tree and nearby stump (see above). I have no idea why this tradition started, but some of the coins look very well weathered, and I expect have been there for several years.
The waterfall itself was beautiful, a small oasis of it’s own within the woods (see below). Several younger people were diving into the pool at it’s base. Judging by how long it took them to resurface after diving, it must be quite deep in it’s centre, although there appears to be a lip of rocks around the pool’s circumference.
The foundry appears to have been washed away by a flood in the early years of the 20th century, and several more rocks swept downstream in a further flood in the 1960’s. The large stones which remain (many were taken to be used for local buildings) jut out the water to create numerous miniature weirs alongside our walking route. It’s a lovely spot, but was rather busy when we went, possibly because people see it as a good outdoor location in these socially distant times. Still, there are many worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon…
It’s probably been hard to escape the news of George Floyd’s horrific murder in May this year, and the worldwide protests it has inspired.
Although the #BlackLivesMatter movement has been running for several years, it has certainly gained momentum. Perhaps half the world being in lockdown made sure we didn’t miss anything this time, as another unjust killing of a person of colour scrolled by on our new feed yet again…
As a white person, it’s worth recognising the (possibly unconscious) bias inherent in the system, which – despite a far from privileged upbringing – may well have provided me with a leg up from time to time.
How can we change this? Perhaps I’m not the best person to ask. Here’s an article by Dazed which explains how to be a better ally. It’s an important read, which features the main points summarised below:
Think twice before sharing violent videos
Confront racism when you see it
Acknowledge your privilege
Practice social distancing*
(*this final point comes because BAME people are more likely to contract or die from COVID19, the Corona virus still sweeping around the globe this summer)
I wholeheartedly encourage you to read the original article from Dazed in full. There’s also this longer article from Gal Dem, which is run and contributed to entirely by women of colour, which explains how non-white people of colour can help to dismantle anti-blackness.
Please read and share these articles.
Will anything change? Companies and trade bodies are in the stage of self-examination. The Musicians Union and British Association for Music Therapy are both looking at how they can do better. It’s our job to keep the pressure up until tangible changes start to become manifest.
Apart from that, ask lots of questions. Be curious. And most importantly, be kind.