Famous lines of a British song written in the 70’s about an artist, Lowry, from Salford in Manchester (check it out on ‘YouTube’ as it’ll set the tone for my blog below ….). His pictures are unique in their style and the way he captured life in northern England.
I’ve been perusing various blogs by lots of proficient writers and was struck by those who travel to England, eloquently articulating the famous sites, places and tourist attractions, the ‘britishness’ and quaintness of everything english. And whilst this is mostly accurate, I can’t help but feel they’re missing out on exploring parts of England ‘lesser travelled’ and which are equally interesting and worthy of note.
With our soon departure to Canada, it got me thinking about how to capture the sheer delight, true Englishness and wonderful features that only living in the north of England can truly bring. If nothing else, it’ll serve as a due reminder of Northern life when I’m far away and relishing life in a different country!
Well, first things first. Everyone will have a different view about what is classed as the ‘north of England’. You’d think it wouldn’t be difficult, but you’ll be surprised how many people think it starts in the ‘Midlands’. In fact, huge dissertations have been produced trying to clarify the ‘line of distinction’. All I will say is that in my mind, draw a horizontal line from the top of Wales across England and everything above this is ‘the North’.
So – what makes northern living so great?
- There’s a northern humour which is hard to replicate – born from hard graft and sheer determination, a propensity to look on the bright side, and take each day as it comes. One of my favourite northern comedians is a chap called Peter Kay who uses observational humour to have you rolling around the floor laughing with tears in your eyes (check him out on YouTube). Victoria Wood (another northern comedian) went to school in my home town and is unparalleled in her ability to make your sides ache.
- Then there’s the friendliness of people which I’ve never found elsewhere. We’ll talk to you at a bus stop, in the shops, sat on a park bench, in a queue. A true northerner will say ‘mornin, y’rall right luv’ to a stranger passing in the street without a moment’s thought and carry on their way. It’s lovely.
- Have I mentioned the ‘cobbles’ and ‘ginnels’ yet? We have particular names for things which have others looking at us in complete bewilderment. And don’t get me started on the difference between muffins, rolls, baps and barms …..
- Talking of food. There’s none of this ‘nouveau cuisine’ stuff, it’s good ol’ hearty food with decent sized portions – proper pub grub, Lancashire hotpot, fish ‘n’ chips, pie & mushy peas, black puddings, sausage and mash, beef stew & dumplings. Mmmmmm……..
- I can’t omit the pubs. Invariably on most street corners and stocking locally brewed ales aswell as the more commercially available ones too.
- Wonderful accents and turns of phrase spoken. I’m only hoping Canadians will be able to understand my lancashire accent. There was a series of 3 iconic adverts broadcast on tv in the mid 70’s for ‘Hovis’ (a bread) using Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony’ opening as the backdrop. The wonders of YouTube means you can still watch them today – take a peek.
- Finally, there’s the hills, valleys, victorian factories, huge chimneys and terraced housing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s loads of beautiful greenery too. It’s definitely worth travelling to see.
So, if in England and with the chance to venture north – please do. In the words of Michael Buble (a Canadian no less), it feels like home to me.
It certainly is.