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The North South Divide - 1 to 6
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Windows Bob - the best!
Tue 6th Nov '07 2:53PM
4213 Posts
General's Avatar
Member Since
7th Apr '03
I have recently started reading Pies and Prejudice by Stuart Marconi which is a book which talks about the North South divide from the perspective of a Northerner not so much on the socio-economic differences or geography, but on the defining characteristics of the people.

However though the book is well written and funny as you might expect I can't help, but think that the comparison is being made with a straw man. The first chapter talks about his experiences of the South and I was struck by a definition of the South that encompasses: London, East Anglia, The Midlands, The Home Counties and The West Country (He defines the North as starting at Crewe station).

I feel fairly well qualified to talk about this as I am an East Anglian with a Lancastrian mother who has lived in Suffolk, Birmingham and London and has spent quite a bit of time in Wigan, Liverpool and Manchester where I have family and friends.

I want to avoid making too many rash generalisations, but in my experience people from the North will tend to self identify with the concept of being a Northerner whilst I don't know many people who would describe themselves as a Southerner in any meaningful sense not only because it tends to be used as a term of mild abuse, but because its impossible to give it any meaning other than "Not a Northerner". I would always consider myself an East Anglian over any other geographical description not least because though Ipswich is fairly far south the north Norfolk cost is as far north as Stoke on Trent.

When I first moved to Birmingham I found it a very alien place to be. The accent could be hard to understand and the cultural reference points and sense of humour were different. It's much the same if I go to Cornwall for a holiday. I certainly don't sound the same as these people or have that much in common with them any more than if I spend a day in Wigan or Sheffield.

In terms of the traits that I could identify as far as I can see the differences between the people from Wigan and the people from Bristol that I've met aren't really that pronounced. Accent is the obvious one which amongst the middle classes doesn't tend to be all that different anyway (the tell tale Baaarth/Bath excepted).
The one that has been pointed out to me on several occasions is that people randomly talk to you at bus stops, but I have been just as aware of that in Birmingham or the East end as I have been in Sheffield or Manchester though I do conform true to type as if I don't have a specific question to ask I hate being engaged in conversation by strangers (Though I think that reflects badly on me not my place of birth)

I must say it has never been something that has any bearing on my life, but I'm interested to know how others feel on the subject.

I shall leave you with this anecdote from freshers week at Birminham University upon being introduced to a new person who was from Macclesfield (I should add this is one of the only times something like this has ever happened to me).
Me: Hello I'm General
Them: That's a funny accent, where are you from?
Me: Suffolk
Them: Ah a Southerner, eh I expect you don't want to speak to a Northern Monkey like me then?
Me: Erm
Them: cos that's the problem with Southerners isn't it there not very friendly you don't give people like me a chance you just form opinions about us from the off, I don't know how you get by really. Now with a Northerner they would give you a chance you would be chatting away like old mates by now, everyone is just so friendly, but Southerners are just such miserable bastards you don't have a chance
Me: You're not really giving me a chance now.
Them: Typical (Storms off)

optical moose
Tue 6th Nov '07 3:15PM
2522 Posts
Diziet's Avatar
Member Since
20th Jul '05
coming from leicester i can confirm that, apart from an impenetrable dialect, leicestarians have very little that defines them culturally. they are generally reserved and can be quite uptight about talking to strangers. i couldn't think of one thing that would define leicestarians as being distinctively leicestarian (apart from the aforementioned dialect).

i've lived in manchester for 6 years and i consider myself to be more of a northerner than a midlander now. i find northerners to be more like myself, quite open, friendly and up for a laugh.

i can't really speak about 'southerners' because i haven't really met any.

you should have wupped that guy from macclesfied upside the head with a steak and ale pie.

All this thinking has gone to our heads
Tue 6th Nov '07 3:25PM
366 Posts
Jog_Eerie's Avatar
Member Since
15th Apr '03
Diz! You've met me!
Born in Hampshire, raised in Sussex - I'm pretty southern!

When people refer to southerners, I immediately assume they mean people from the south east. The south west is the West Country and the Midlands is certainly NOT southern.

When I arrived in Birmingham it was a completely new experience for me. People had a different attitude and demenour - even down to the way they dressed.

My generalisation is that southerners are more overtly competitive than those from other regions. But then I think that might have been from the fact that I grew up in a town that was largely made up of middle management and executives who had reached a certain pay bracket and could afford to live in nice houses in the countryside and commute.

optical moose
Tue 6th Nov '07 3:29PM
2522 Posts
Diziet's Avatar
Member Since
20th Jul '05

Jog_Eerie was bold enough to comment:
Diz! You've met me!
Born in Hampshire, raised in Sussex - I'm pretty southern!

ahh, in that case southerners are wonderful people.

But Jesus sez 'Oh hai! Iz just me. lol.'
Wed 7th Nov '07 12:10PM
69 Posts
LadyBird's Avatar
Member Since
14th May '07
I've somehow managed to live in the north, south, east, west AND middle of the country. As I was a kid when we lived in most of these places the main things I noticed were the accents and the games kids played in the playground, although the latter might have been more to do with changing fashions all over the country than individual regions. A couple of other things I picked up when I was older were that midlanders felt very strongly about being labelled as northeners by southerners and vice versa and just wanted to be recognised as midlanders, and a lot of southerners (at least in the south east) seemed to think that London was the centre of the universe and anyone wanting to go to work/study anywhere else was insane.

I lost my toes in a game of blackjack
Wed 7th Nov '07 2:20PM
505 Posts
Mrsham's Avatar
Member Since
5th Jan '07
Unlike my better half, I've only ever lived in the north on one side of the Pennines or t'other, and I'm quite happy calling myself a northerner, but I don't think it really says all that much about me. I'd love to be able to call myself a Mancunian -- that means a lot more -- but I'm not really (bit too far south of the city ... in Cheshire ) Maybe I could be considered an adopted Mancunian? I've been in Yorkshire for five years, which is nowhere near long enough to be a Yorkshireman.

Basically, I think there are definitely urban and regional identities, but there's so much variation in the north (and I imagine in the midlands and definitely in the south -- compare East Sussex with inner London) that I don't think the North South divide has much basis in anything at all. But then my parents are from East Sussex and Lincolnshire, and my Gran is a bona fide authentic Cockney so I'm probably just some weird north-south mongrel who doesn't really get it. Setting one against the other is just daft (as General's anecdote illustrated brilliantly!)

Ladybird and I plan to flee the country on retirement and spend our later years in Wales smuggling Caerphilly (the cheese, not the town) over the border, thus avoiding the whole problem.

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