On one of the most important days in the literary calendar, a North-East institution celebrates its 40th anniversary.
The contrast between two of Tyneside's cultural institutions could hardly be more vivid. It's enough to make you smile.
On the south bank of the Tyne sits The Sage Gateshead, a great glittering butterfly waiting to spread its wings. Flashy and unmissable, it's a triumphant symbol of lottery largesse and political ambition - a £70m, regeneration-driving palace of music.
Up a cobbled back lane in Newcastle, where the ventilators of Stowell Street expel the cooking smells of the Orient, squats the Morden Tower. It forms part of the 13th Century City Walls and in the early 17th Century was the meeting place of the Company of Glaziers, Plumbers, Pewterers and Painters.
But in putting the North-East on the map of world culture, the little tower - lacking, until recently, a toilet, carpet or matching chairs - is ahead of the game.
Since 1964, the world's finest poets have been reading here to audiences whose love of language has overridden any physical discomfort. Seamus Heaney, Allen Ginsberg, Roger McGough, Ted Hughes, Tony Harrison, Elaine Feinstein, Stevie Smith ... the long, long list of Morden Tower readers is nothing less than a post-war Who's Who of poetry.
It is simply extraordinary they all came to Newcastle to read, most of them long before culture was something embraced by the power-mongers - although Connie Pickard says she heard that T. Dan Smith, Newcastle City Council's charismatic leader, once lured the poet and academic Jon Silkin (another Morden Tower reader) to Newcastle from Leeds to help create a middle class on Tyne.
Silkin launched Stand, a literary magazine, which carried Newcastle's name to the world. But so did the Morden Tower. By word of mouth, its fame grew. Basil Bunting, the greatest Northumbrian poet, "gave it two years", according to Connie.
"He said the enthusiasm would drop off after that. But established poets all wanted to come here. We had Alan Sillitoe and Seamus Heaney, the American Black Mountain poets, the beat poets and poets from San Francisco. It generated a momentum."
Connie - born in North Shields and of proud, working class stock - was married to the poet Tom Pickard and together they were a literary driving force in Newcastle in the 1960s. They set up a magazine and ran a bookshop. And in 1964 Connie took on the lease of the grade one listed Morden Tower from the City Council.
Tomorrow's 40th anniversary event will see a host of poets, including John Hegley, Tom Pickard and Michael Horovitz, returning to Newcastle in honour of a North-East institution. Because the tower is so small, the event was scheduled for the Newcastle Opera House. But since that venue abruptly closed its doors last week, the anniversary bash will now take place in the Royal Station Hotel.
It is to be held on a doubly auspicious date - the 40th anniversary of the first Morden Tower readings and the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday, the name given by fans of James Joyce to June 16, the date in 1904 when the events of Ulysses, Joyce's most famous novel, unfold.
Connie says the timing was a fortuitous accident. Basil Bunting, author of the famous poem Briggflatts, had been an acquaintance of Joyce through his friendship with the American poet Ezra Pound.
Keeping the Morden Tower going has taken its toll on Connie. She has dug deep into her own pocket to sustain it and, as an asthmatic, her health has also suffered. While the developers Hanro Ltd provided some welcome sponsorship, the tower was turned down for a lottery grant.
But if the region is staking a lot on The Sage Gateshead, it owes a debt of gratitude to Connie and those who have helped to sustain the Morden Tower's recent history. If the glaziers, plumbers, pewterers and painters merit a plaque on the wall, you'd think some of the greatest poets of the 20th Century would be deserving of similar.
But Connie is more concerned about continuity. Some of the more recent Tower readers may one day be remembered in the same breath as Heaney, Harrison and company.
It would be more than a shame if, through lack of money or interest, a North-East institution were to become no more than a listed pile of stones up a seldom-visited back alley. If you want to find out what all the fuss is about, help to swell the audience tomorrow at the Morden Tower 40th anniversary event at the Royal Station Hotel, Newcastle, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5.