Colin loves the red and white stripes
One man and his blogs
By site contributor Colin Randall
Black Cats fan Colin Randall jumped at the chance for a new job in Abu Dhabi but still has a strong passion for Sunderland.
When the Daily Telegraph decided that 29 years of me was more than enough, the sensible response was clear: slip into early retirement in France.
The North East, which I had left in 1973, was not an option. I was living in Paris, my wife is French and, though we'd met in Darlington (she liked the way it translated as "ville de chou chou"), she had no wish to indulge my fantasy of returning to the region.
Least of all did she want to move close enough to the Stadium of Light for me to get a regular fix of Sunderland AFC, my passion since boyhood in Shildon, when I would combine bus, train and foot to get to Roker Park every other Saturday.
But if we were to stay in France - no hardship in itself - journalism would have to go on producing an income to facilitate trips home.
My wife Joëlle and I in Bedouin costume
Folk, football and france
I began freelancing from the house we'd bought a few years earlier in the Mediterranean resort of Le Lavandou. The weather was fabulous, the rosé wine delicious, the area beautiful...and the income slow.
People I wanted to work for paid a pittance; those I didn't were unavoidable clients if the sums were to add up. We were hardly poor, but the hours were long for what I earned.
Rashly, I persuaded myself that the internet might provide a livelihood. I had blogged successfully from Paris for the Telegraph and created my first website - Salut! - on entering the world beyond salaried employment.
It seemed logical to add Salut! Sunderland to feed the footballing obsession. And why stop there? Folk music is another interest.
I used to run folk clubs in Shildon, Bishop Auckland and Darlington and recall great nights with Vin Garbutt, Mike Elliott, Ed Pigford, Johnny Handle and other superb North-eastern artists.
I remember hitching back to Shildon from Sunderland after seeing Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, probably in 1969, though I have forgotten in which pub the Sunderland folk club met. Salut! Live -was therefore an obvious next addition to this growing cyber empire.
Then, out of the blue, came the call that was to lure me back into proper employment. Would I go to Abu Dhabi and help launch a daily newspaper? My poor wife, hearing only my end of the conversation, thought to herself: "He's not taking me to Derby, is he?"
It was a challenge I couldn't resist. In a 40-year career, I had never been involved in a launch. It was a late stage of my career for it to happen. It was also a late stage of the career of newspapers, but that's another story.
Colin with The National's launch cake
But I resolved to keep on blogging. Temporarily wifeless and living out of a suitcase, I wrote about my new life, nostalgia for France - and, of course, football and folk.
Love for the North East
At long distance, I conducted e-mail interviews. Subjects included another North East-based singing star of my youth, Marie Little, who lived for many years in Sunderland, and a relatively new one, Rachel Unthank (likeable and talented, despite the genetic defect that made her a Mag).
During those lonely first months, I even added a fourth site. Decades away have not dimmed my love for the North East. Salut! North - was a blog waiting to happen, and memories of schooldays, first job and stumbling early searches for a love life flooded back as I tapped away on my laptop.
Needless to say, One Man and his Blogs turned out to be no money-spinner. The small earnings are gobbled up by the outgoings. I honestly don't mind. Each brings pleasure.
And though Salut! remains the flagship of this modest fleet, the others bring me most rewards, since they achieve the otherwise unachievable, and take me back to the North East.
To see Colin's websites click the links in the top right corner of the page. Or if you're a Worldwide Wearsider, let us know your story by e-mail: email@example.com
last updated: 07/08/2008 at 11:10