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Yes, we're always game for a gaffe.

Byline: By Gordon Barr

How the words of the great and the good have amused and offended the North East

America's President George Bush made yet another gaffe a few days ago.

His comment: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we; they never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we" had people tittering the world over.

But he's not the first to put his foot in his mouth ( not by a long shot.

Today we take a look back at some gaffes with a North East slant. Can you remember them?

One of the most famous has become folklore in the showbiz world. Did Donna Air really ask the Corrs (sisters Andrea, Caroline and Sharon and brother Jim) how they met?

Donna, 25, laughs it off these days, but she neither confirms or denies it. Either way, it's a great tale to tell.

And what about the time rock legend David Bowie came on stage for a massive gig at Roker Park in Sunderland in 1987 and announced: "Hello Newcastle!"?

It was virtually a case of Ashes To Ashes for the Starman, who then went on to put on a highly disappointing show.

That age-old Tyneside-Wearside divide was the downfall of former Tory party leader Iain Duncan Smith when he came to the region last year.

IDS upset Sunderland fans after praising the Toon Army while on Wearside. He began a speech to business leaders in Washington praising Sir Bobby Robson and Newcastle United for beating German side Bayer Leverkusen that week.

"It is a great pleasure to be here in Newcastle, as ever a privilege to be among you." Oops.

Talking of Sir Bobby, we could have filled a page with the football manager's comical gaffes.

Here's a selection to be getting on with.

"If we start counting our chickens before they hatch, they won't lay any eggs in the basket." (After a win over Bolton kept the Magpies' title dreams alive)

"Home advantage gives you an advantage."

"The first 90 minutes of a football match are the most important."

"We didn't underestimate them. They were a lot better than we thought."

"In a year's time, he's a year older."

"Some of the goals were good, some of the goals were sceptical."

"They're two points behind us, so we're neck and neck."

"Eighteen months ago they [Sweden] were arguably one of the best three teams in Europe, and that would include Germany, Holland, Russia and anybody else, if you like."

It seems football managers are the kings of the gaffes. Take a look at some choice quotes from another Newcastle United manager, Kevin Keegan.

"They are the second best team in the world, and there is no higher praise than that."

"Goalkeepers aren't born today until they are in their late 20s or 30s." "England have the best fans in the world and Scotland's fans are second to none."

"That would have been a goal if it wasn't saved."

"I'd love to be a mole on the wall in the Liverpool dressing room at half-time."

Enough of the soccer gaffes, though. Politicians and councillors are always being accused of spin. And let's face it, sometimes it's just so true!

Recalling his North East roots, Prime Minister Tony Blair once spoke of sitting behind the goal at the Gallowgate end of St James' Park, watching Newcastle United's Jackie Milburn.

But it was later pointed out that the centre-forward retired when Blair was four, while terracing was only replaced by seats in the 90s.

On another occasion, Mr Blair revealed that at the age of 14 he boarded an airliner bound for the Bahamas at Newcastle Airport to avoid returning to school, only to be rumbled moments before take-off.

However, it subsequently emerged that at the time there was no service to the Bahamas from Newcastle.

Back in 2001, expectations were high when it was announced the massive outdoors dance event Love Parade was heading for Toon.

The festival was expected to attract 250,000 revellers to Newcastle, but was cancelled at the last minute after the council failed to meet the requirements of its own licensing committee over car parking.

Head of culture at the city council Paul Rubinstein must have been eating his words, as he had previously said: "The council has estimated the event will bring up to pounds 15m into the city. This is the short-term value. In the longer term, all the publicity received around the event will attract many more people to Newcastle in the future, adding millions more pounds to the local economy."

In 1995, Kenneth Clarke, the former Tory Chancellor, created a furore when he said: "At Consett, you have got one of the best steelworks in Europe. It doesn't employ as many people as it used to because it is so modern." The County Durham factory had actually closed 15 years earlier.

We'll end on a footballing high, though. When asked for his nationality before an operation, Paul Gascoigne told the nurse: "Church of England." Classic.

Do you remember any gaffes made by famous people from the region, or made about the region? If so, write with the details to Ray Marshall, Remember When, Evening Chronicle, Groat Market, Newcastle NE1 1ED.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 11, 2004
Words:881
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