Sunday, 10 November 2013

Being a Northerner down south.

There has been a lot of  stuff on the internet this week about the north, and how northern you are, and it made me think of our perception of each other. It's true that southerners think northerners are a bit grubby and common and unsophisticated, whilst northerners think southerners are a bit rude and unfriendly! A lot of this is just banter, but is it actually true?

I have been linked to this post a couple of times this week, and so thought I'd analyse it in more detail:

1. You thought your accent was barely discernible, but to people down south you're basically Peter Kay.
True. My accent is nowhere near as strong as some of my friends and family, but I still get laughed at for certain words!

3. You're mortified when you go back home and your friends tell you you're starting to sound like a southerner. True to some extent. My Mum and Stepdad came down this weekend and said my accent was softer, but I've always spoken better than some of my friends (pronounced my vowels etc) to the point where they call me posh. In truth, I had to modify my accent more when I went to University in York than I do down here, and I only do down here because I speak on the phone a lot at work.

5. Down here if you call a woman 'duck' or 'love' she might accuse you of being sexist. True. I have been called 'darlin' a few times though, which I detest and view in the same way, especially when it's someone younger than me.

6. People are just friendlier back home. Not true - Brighton is very friendly, although this is likely to change the closer to London you get.

7. In the South, everyone wears a coat when they go out at night. Not true, but they are more susceptible to the cold than me. It's definitely not coat weather yet, but I have seen people in scarves and gloves!

8. Chips and gravy doesn't seem to have bridged the north/south divide. True :( In the words of Peter Kay - "Has tha nowt moist?!"

14. Sometimes you have met people who have never been up north at all, who think it all looks like this:


True. It's also quite funny not to dissuade them. If you can persuade them you worked 'dawn't' pit' as well, it's even funnier.

15. And you have to explain to them that time is still moving on north of the Watford Gap. True.

16. Northern countryside is the most beautiful in the world, no two ways about it. True, but the south is prettier than I thought it would be. The hills are just not quite high enough.

17. Northern seaside resorts are just better, and not just because they remind you of your childhood. Not true. In Brighton, you're unlikely to find human waste within wading distance, and far less drunk middle aged, tangoed women with their bits out. (Yes Blackpool I'm talking about you). Brighton is nice, although a sandy beach would be nicer. Think I prefer Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay, but it's nice to see the sea eveyday!

18. No matter where you are, you'll always be proud of your Northern roots. TRUE.

Before I moved down to Brighton, I swore that I'd never move down South. In my head, the south was expensive, and lacked the hills and pretty scenery that I love so much about where my family lives. In truth, whilst some of the south is like that, Brighton just isn't.  I still haven't gotten over the novelty of seeing the sea everyday (even if it is cold, wet and grey!), and the South Downs are so close that I have the best of all the worlds; the sea, the countryside and a city is pretty much on my doorstep!

I also thought I'd stand out a lot more than I do. I don't have the strongest accent, and I'm quite good at subconsciously adapting it to my surroundings. My Mum has always been quite fastidious about me not sounding too much like I'm from Rochdale, so my friends have always called me posh because I pronounce my 'O's more than they do and things like that. I do have an accent however, and whilst that's thicker when I'm talking to my friends at home, it is discernible, especially to the southern ear. The truth is, however, that there are so many different people living in Brighton, that you wouldn't even notice! It's great :)

You also always read about how people in the south are really unfriendly and don't talk to each other on the street - this is so not the case in Brighton! It's so full of weirdos that everyone chats to you as much as you find up north! It's also not as expensive as I thought it would be either - if you go to the right places!! I paid £7 for a glass of wine on my first day down here. That is not happening again!

There are some things about the north that I will miss however. Winter is a good example. They've had the first frost and even a bit of snow up north, yet here it's barely cold enough to wear a coat! Alright, the wind off the sea gets a bit nippy, but it's nothing compared to being in Yorkshire! Winter is my favourite season, so I'll be sad if it doesn't get properly cold.

Seasonal food is another one. Bonfire night is one of my favourite nights of the year; I love snuggling up in my hat and coat and eating jacket potatoes whilst watching the fireworks, then going home to a bit of parkin or some treacle toffee. Black peas are also my favourite to eat around this time of year - I understand that no-one's heard of them, because they are very specific to Rochdale, so that's fine. For the uneducated, they're little black peas that you soak for 24 hours, before cooking until they're really soft, then eat with loads of vinegar and they're amazing). I couldn't believe that no-one had heard of Parkin, however. I assumed it was one of those things like Eccles Cakes or Double Gloucester cheese; regional, but everyone eats it.

I soon rectified that however. My amazing Grandma sent me a package 'for the northerner stranded in southern parts' that consisted of parkin, black peas and treacle toffee and a toffee apple! (I know you can get the latter two down here, but it's all part of the bonfire night experience!) That was too good to share, but last weekend I was bored, and so made Parkin and treacle toffee for the office. It was all gone within a couple of days, so I assume it was a hit! Slowly but surely I'll convert them to the ways of the north!


If you want to try it out for yourself, Parkin is like ginger cake, but made with treacle and spices as well. It's really sticky and so yummy!


I'm so glad that Brighton challenged my perception of the south (a lot of it exacerbated by the fact that  I love taking the mick out of people, and southerners are easy targets ;)) - whilst there might be a lot of banter in the office between myself and my fellow northerner, and the rest of my colleagues, I have fallen in love with Brighton, and love the whole accessibility of the south! When living up north, I always used to lament the fact that everything that I wanted to do (comedy, live tv shows, gigs etc) were down in London, that is now just 50 minutes away by train! I am also close enough to France that I can go there for a day trip!

I will always be a northerner at heart, but I'm finding living in the south a lot of fun. (Ssh, don't tell anyone up north!) It's alright though, I still scored 99% on the 'How Northern are you?'quiz!

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