IT always surprises me when people say Newcastle nightlife is dead, because it never seems that way when you read the gig guide.
Most weeks there's multiple things on in town. Usually within walking distance of bars and restaurants.
And routinely top-notch and varied, from visiting international luminaries right down to the heart and soul grassroots. Something for all tastes.
All at the fingertips and often at a discount to our metropolitan cousins.
Take a recent week, for example, a personal purple patch socially (the kids are older now and the parents are starting to spread the wings).
We had the wonderful experience of attending the opening of the French Film Festival at Tower Cinema. (The one tower in Newcastle people aren't complaining about at the moment.)
Being an Aussie Francophile with limited parlez-vous, I have to say, it was tres bien, mate (grouse).
I never realised there was such a large and vibrant French community in Newcastle. So animated, so well dressed, so ooh la la in so many ways.
The place was packed, the joie de vivre was flowing and the movies? Well, Je t'aime. Translated, I think that means I love you. Which, linguistically, is a bit clunky - I love you film festival.
But it summed up how I felt afterwards.
I'm giving it a five out of five, and not just because there was a chardy and pate available.
I would have given it a six if I'd won the lucky door prize.
But it was reassuring to see my bad luck crosses cultures when it comes to raffles.
And cool to hear the winner announced with a French accent: "Un ze winnair izzz . . . pink tickairt 83." Merde.
A week earlier, just a block up the road at the conservatorium, I had the absolute pleasure of catching The American Brass Quintet. (Yep, date night #2.)
It was their first tour Down Under in 40 years and they chose Newie as the first port of call to clear the pipes. What a coup.
Hats off to the people at Newcastle Musica Viva who keep the quality rolling through each season.
It's fair to say these five guys on their horns - two trumpets, two trombones and a horn - blew my mind. (Obvious pun intended.)
I used to play a mean recorder, and when these five urbane dudes started blowing the bejesus out of what looked to me, a layman, like complicated plumbing apparatus, I could tell they were special.
Mouthwatering, judging by the shakedown the instruments got after each number. And now that you mention it, I do recall a bit of spittle from my recorder days.
The complexity of composition and degree of technical skill easily rivalled our recorder group's scintillating version of London's Burning delivered at the local music festival all those years ago.
In a word, enthralling. The American Brass Quintet weren't too bad either.
It was good to get the background goss on the music too, so you could hold your own in polite conversation at the break.
Brass, I was reliably informed, has not been that well catered for in the chamber music world over the centuries.
Indeed, it seems to have been considered somewhat "niche", which I think meant "nerdy".
Composers have tended to fawn over the string and piano types, causing a degree of resentment, according to an oboe player I spoke to on the night.
Except when it came to lugging out their instruments, I thought. You'd hate to be a roadie for a grand piano trio.
Indeed, that's why this famous brass quintet was formed 40 years ago.
Not just to strike a blow for the portability of their instruments, but to showcase the magnificent music created for the heavy breathers since as far back as the Renaissance.
And what a blessing they did.
Centuries-old music composed before the advent of electricity and the Marshall stack.
Powerful, glorious, rhapsodic and transcendent.
Proof of what's possible without the distractions of the internet.
The fact it's still being played today testament to its enduring qualities.
Lady Gaga could only dream of such longevity. And you never know. Many great composers of the past were pop stars in their day.
Perhaps for that reason, 400 years from now, they'll still be playing the hits of Russell Morris, Joe Camilleri, Richard Clapton and Leo Sayer, who rocked into town to prove that old showbiz adage, the show must go on.
Who cares if it's with the aid of an insurance company sponsorship. All great artists need their patrons.
These guys raised the ornamental roof and shook the chandelier of the Civic Theatre, which is sort of midway between the con and the Tower, reminding everyone present that they are indeed the real thing.
It was just a cross-section of what was on offer that week in downtown Newie.
Foreign films, classical music, rock'n'roll.
All within three blocks of each other.
And barely the tip of the iceberg when you scratch the surface.
Gotta love this city.