“Northerners are better than southerners,” is how I chose to hear what my Kentish wife said.
“Stating the blimmin’ obvious…” replied my inner monologue.
Whilst this wasn’t about the North’s most obvious superior qualities – cuisine, weather*, manners – it did get me thinking a bit about my life at the bottom of the country.
The above (‘possibly’ paraphrased) comment came about during a regular post-work chat, where we download to each other about our respective days.
It’s an oddly comforting part of our routine that I secretly enjoy more than I would have thought as I do actually quite like hearing about the minutiae of Mrs Phil’s day – not necessarily all the information (which she will confirm I have trouble remembering the salient details of), but I find it reassuring that we share the annoying part of our lives where we’re not at home together.
In this instance, she was telling me about a colleague who was using TripAdvisor to find somewhere to go on holiday. Apparently the colleague’s fail-safe technique involved looking at feedback from northerners as they’re more likely to give an accurate reflection of the experience they had.
Brushing aside the casual of stereotyping of northerners as being straight-talking folk (we are, but we don’t like to brag), I did begin to wonder about how my kids (now 5 and almost-3) will grow up to think of the north.
At the moment, it’s all good as they know that’s where I’m from, and they have grandparents who spoil them living up there, as well as an aunt (pronounced properly), uncle and cousin who they love to see.
And – as I keep telling them (see above) – it’s where we talk proper. The boy is now onside with how to say ‘castle’, but the girl needs work.
But, as they grow up, will they see themselves as southerners? I know I married one, but it’s not necessarily something you’d wish on your kids, is it?
Since it only takes a short walk from my door for me to (usually) be able to see France, getting ‘home’ up the M1 (though am preferring A1 lately) is a bit of a mission. But when we do do it, the kids love it, and I want to make sure we keep trying to do it as much as possible so they get used to ‘normal’ folk.
I expect I’ll have to concede some ground in my battle to get them to think of themselves as part northern – I don’t expect them having to go through the annoying process of repeating themselves as people don’t understand their accents.
But I would like them to grow up thinking it’s ok to be friendly, know what a snicket is and be able to watch Happy Valley and wonder why everyone is moaning about the sound.
I’m already working on them by making sure they appreciate the exquisite delights of Yorkshire pudding, chips and gravy,and butties, as well as by pointing out the northerness of our best sportspeople (Adams, Bairstow, Brownlee x 2, Ennis-Hill, Root etc.) wherever possible.
As they get older, I’m planning on expanding this by getting them to make me a proper brew, going out in the rain without mitherin’, and listening to Fred Dibnam to get their pronunciation right.
Any other ideas?
* It’s too hot down here!!! There’s sodding vineyards around here now. Vineyards!!! Rhubarb is my preferred local crop of choice.