I was meant to write about how living in the North compares to living in the South, but the only northern place in which I’ve lived is Newcastle so I don’t really feel like I can make generalisations about the whole top section of the country. However, I asked a Geordie to clarify the boundaries, and places like Manchester and the entirety of Yorkshire are apparently in the Midlands anyway, so maybe I could write it. I’ll just start by explaining what happened when I arrived here and we’ll see where we end up.
I arrived in Newcastle on a very expensive train, paid for by an ex-lover in America who apparently thought my life was worth saving. I had only two bags with me when I arrived; I brought more books with me than pairs of trousers. I left the train station, got the Metro to where my best friend lives and I made myself at home.
I knew nothing about Newcastle before I moved here, aside from Byker Grove (which isn’t even in Byker) and the football club. I didn’t know it had a light rail system under the city. I didn’t even really know how far north I actually was, and I definitely wasn’t aware of how fucking hilly it is. Say what you want about Essex, but at least it was mostly flat.
I’d been here around three days and I still hadn’t sorted out a place to live but I’d met a guy and he was showing me around. We ended up at some hippy bloke’s house and I was talking to his mum in the garden. She introduced herself as Jamie’s mam and downright refused to give me her actual name; she was, very adamantly, ‘Jamie’s mam’. I was a little bit confused, because I’d just spent ~unknown~ minutes crashed out on a sofa after taking some ketamine and what I later found out was MDMA while a man who looked like Iggle Piggle played me a song on his guitar, and I can’t just call her Jamie’s mam, can I? She’s a bit intimidating so I don’t want to start an argument here… ah, whatever, I’d probably forget her name immediately anyway.
She asked what I was doing in Newcastle. I said ‘I think I live here now,’ and she said ‘It’s the best place to live, pet.’
It is a great place. And I’ve almost shaken off the feeling that I’m going to be going home soon. For years, I felt like I was just on an extended break from my life. I always felt as though I’d be going back, and everything would be the same as it was. Which wasn’t too bad, until I had someone who I need to stay in the present for.
One of the reasons I’ve found it hard to write about the differences between the north and the south is because a lot of the assumed differences are based upon stereotypes and, while these obviously do exist, they aren’t as blatant as people think. I know Geordies who don’t like football. I have encountered friendly Londoners. Some people from Essex are smart, and not complete slags.
There are people in Norfolk who pronounce ‘cow’ and ‘queue’ the same. Coo.
Speaking of dialect, obviously it took me a bit of getting used to. Someone I met quite early on had a cat called She-Ra which I didn’t think was too strange, but it made more sense when it turned out he was called Shearer and I had just misheard. Aside from that, and once I got used to the slightly faster pace of speech, I’ve found that people have more of an issue with my accent than the other way round. It’s not that people can’t understand me, it just seems like they think I’m being snooty when I’m not. The worst culprit for this is ‘excuse me’ – I’m only saying it because I want you to shift out of the way so I can move past, but people look at me like I just called their gran a whore. It’s even worse when I add a ‘please’ at the end. It’s kind of like how the tone of the word changes when you really emphasise the last syllable in words like slut and cunt. It was a term of endearment until you over-accentuated that ‘T’.
There isn’t much I can do about it, anyway. Geordies would be way more offended if I tried to do their accent. I’ll just have to shove my way off the train, and shout at people with my eyebrows. See, just like London.