The City & the Northern Girl #9

“What the f**k does ‘too Northern’ mean?”

Living with an ex. Every girl’s nightmare, right? The quick towel run from the bathroom whilst avoiding eye contact, awkwardly sitting at either end of the  couch through sex scenes during a flat film night, deciding the best time to bring a new lad back to the flat… The list goes on. Enter Becky’s reality. You’re probably sat reading this thinking “what an idiot”. Not one to cry over spilt milk, I’ll give you the short version of our relationship: first year flatmates, drunken birthday night, happily ever after, decide to continue to be flatmates for second year. Fast forward a long distance summer and you reach moving in day. Cue shifty looks from him and the mumbling of “It’s not working… we’re too different”.

Your mind then starts racing with potential meanings to this. We both enjoy our weekly Location Location Location fix. Can’t be that. We both share a love for Cadburys chocolate, frequently engaging in a late night dash to Budgens when supplies ran low. Definitely can’t be that. Admittedly we study different subjects, with me occasionally forcing him to listen whilst I try and explain how Marxist’s theory applied to Frankenstein. Hardly earth-shattering. So what else? Wait… No. It can’t be. Me: “(nervous laughter) Am I too Northern for you or something?”. Cue too-long-a pause to be deemed a definite rejection to my claim before all hell broke loose.

It might not be the definitive reason for our break up but it sure as hell played a part- according to him. And this got me thinking, once the red mist had eventually cleared, what the hell does ‘too Northern’ actually mean? How do you even define the term ‘too Northern’? I put the question to my friends and words such as ‘uncouth’, ‘too loud’, ‘over-friendly’ surfaced, which left me more confused than ever. I know loud Southerners. I know really friendly Southerners. I even know some really uncivilised Southerners – ones that could give the Hollyoaks cast a run for their money.

So it must be the actual place I’m from. The lovely ‘grim’ North. Our social upbringings couldn’t have been more different. Him, privately educated at an all-boys school, and me, just about surviving five years of a mixed comprehensive (think Educating Yorkshire spin-off). But surely that’s not a ‘Northern’ thing, a mix of private and state schools can be found everywhere.

However, you can’t deny the sheer number of independent schools down South makes for an interesting contrast. Take Dorset. Tiny county made up of approximately 700,000 people – 21 independent schools and 4 grammars. Then look at Yorkshire. Huge county, with 5.3 million people – 18 independent schools and 6 grammars. Note the population difference. There isn’t even a grammar school left in the North-East of England, the poor sods. So does that make us ‘too different’?

Let’s face it, I was nowhere nearer to finding out what this ‘too Northern’ claim meant. However something a friend said about me being ‘slightly intimidating’ made me think. I will openly admit I am fiercely proud of my roots; arguably even more so since I came down here, as is everyone. It is natural to get defensive when you’re faced with a constant assault in relation from where you’re from, whether that be being told “you live down a mine” or that “you have a dirty Northern accent” (actual quotes, no joke). So yes. I do have a chip on my shoulder, I am defensive when someone says “oh you’re from the North” and yes I probably will intimidate you with my brash Northern accent and immediate affection for everyone. I am the classic Northern stereotype, but I love it.

The reason behind my relationship breakdown was pinpointed as “we’re too different”, whether that be an outspoken Northern lass clashing with his more reserved Southern fashion or the simple fact I hate curry, much to his horror. Don’t get me wrong, opposites can attract. Just maybe not from opposite ends of the country.

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