“You speak quite fast don’t you? Oh you’re from Sheffield? Don’t worry then. It’s probably due to the fact that you are from the North.”
Sorry? Don’t worry? Oh no you didn’t.
I am a Northerner who resides in the South of England and a while ago, I stumbled across an article with the headline “Teacher Told Her Accent is ‘Too Northern’” In addition to this, the nation’s sweetheart Katie Hopkins has also previously been quoted as saying the following, “If you have a Northern accent then you sound more stupid.” Now I won’t dwell on the irony of that sentence but I will instead like to state that there isn’t just an issue regarding the way in which we speak.
Let me explain, the cultural and economical differences between the South of England and the North of England are not breaking news. However, they will always be a relevant topic so long as regional stereotypes are present, and as it goes, they are alive and well.
I recently did some extensive research on this, and by research I mean texting friends asking them to send me a list of what they thought were Northern traits. The most common results were “They all hate Margret Thatcher and blame her for the fact that they are unemployed”, “They love chips” and “They talk fast and drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol.”
It doesn’t just end there. During my time as a student, I worked in a department store on Oxford Street, London. The majority of my time there was spent with my manager Liam, where we would exchange remarks regularly, all in good humour of course, regarding the fact that he was “southern fairy” and I was a “northern monkey”. He found great solace in the fact that I hailed from the North as this provided him with the perfect opportunity to wind me up. Comments such as “it’s as though I’ve just walked onto Coronation Street” were commonplace whenever my colleague and I were engaged in conversation.
Firstly Liam, I think you will find that it’s Emmerdale Farm you are thinking of, and secondly, no one from Manchester even speaks like they do on Coronation Street.
Those of you who have worked in retail will know that around the Christmas period, some stores stay open late in order to accommodate for the high demand of shoppers looking to buy gifts. On Oxford Street, that time was 11pm. As to be expected, Londoners would have rather been at home than traipsing around a frosty Central London. So by 10pm, all of us at work only had the company of each other.
On one particular evening, Myself, Liam and another manager named Scott, were lent against the till when the topic of cheeseboards arose (I don’t want to talk about it okay? It was late and we were tired.) And the conversation went as follows:
Scott: “Oh I love a cheeseboard with a nice, large glass of wine.”
Me: “They are quite posh though aren’t they, cheeseboards? I thought they were quite posh.”
Liam: “That’s because you don’t have them up North do you? You just have a Babybel and crack a can of Stella open with your teeth”
As I looked up, I was doing a terribly awful job at attempting to conceal my desire to laugh and hit him simultaneously, and he was grinning as though he was a 6 year old child who had just called his mother a “poo head”.
I realise that in these particular instances, such remarks are made in jest and by people who I adore, but they also illustrate a number of misconceptions that certain individuals have.
People who take these cultural representations as one hundred percent truth are incredibly mistaken. Thoughts like this are often the function of a lazy mind and northerners do not, as my friend put it, “talk faster than Busta Rhymes raps”, maybe you just need to listen quicker.