Wiki PageTuesday 13th August 2013, 9:34
It's a grey, overcast day. The weather forecast says it'll rain later, as of yet it hasn't started, but the sunlight is struggling to reach the streets through heavy cloud cover. The pavements are still wet from overnight rain and probably won't have a chance to dry, puddles against the kerb mean that every time a car passes it splashes water on anyone foolish enough to stand too close to the road. Nothing particularly unusual, in short, as you hurry towards Unit 17, Fergusons Road cursing your lateness. Over half an hour now the screen of your phone neutrally informs you.
You're brought up short in confusion though after passing the derelict warehouse that comprises Unit 16 - a "For Let" sign informing the world of the particular letting agency to contact should anyone desire to rent a warehouse in this former industrial district.
Maybe you retrace your steps a short distance to check you haven't passed your destination by mistake, but no. Units 1 through 16 sit as they have always done, a roughly equal mix of empty and let focusing largely on construction or related industries - any type of business whose customers won't be put off by the shabby surroundings. A "Pet Superstore" perennially in the news for neglect of its stock is the classiest resident of the sixteen converted warehouses. Which are exactly as they were yesterday.
Maybe you head on, thinking you haven't gone far enough for some reason. Unit 18 sits as it always has - or always since you've been coming here at least. Storage for a double glazing window firm, a stylised "T" announcing to those in the know that that premises is owned by Tyneside Windows. It's exactly as it was yesterday.
Eventually, though, for want of anything sane to do you stand on the pavement, staring at the gap between unit sixteen and unit eighteen. Yesterday it held a moderately prosperous Builder's and Plumber's Merchants. Staff, customers, car parking spaces round the back. A jaunty sign with a missing "O" announcing it as the premises of "J H ner and Sons". Eight hundred and eighty square feet of stock on the ground floor, a similar amount of offices on the first accessed by a staircase protected by a "Staff Only" sign. It's a place you know well. Knew well.
Because today it's simply not there. Not burnt down, not collapsed, simply not there. Barely even a gap for it. Instead of the wide plate windows facing the street, decorated with posters advertising the latest bargains, there is simply a small alleyway, maybe six feet wide, between units sixteen and eighteen. Crab grass and other weeds grow through cracks in the low quality paving and there's a litter of empty beer cans and abandoned cigarette tabs. A striking piece of graffiti in a vibrant red on the brick wall of unit eighteen the only thing that distinguishes it from any other run down alleyway in Newcastle. A "chare" they call it, in the local slang - you realise your mind is making random connections and take a halfhearted step forwards to investigate the alleyway. From your new position you can see the graffiti clearly.
It's oddly unsettling and you step back quickly. Others are arriving now, puzzled looks on their faces as they do the same search for Honers as you just have.