'You can take the lass out of Lancashire, but you can't take the Lancashire out of the lass' - Every Lancastrian I've ever met ever.
As much as I love living in London, I can't deny that there are times that I miss my good old Northern heritage. No where else in the world can I refer to my evening meal as 'tea' without responses of ridicule or the hilarious joke "you can't EAT tea stupid", or say things like "flippin heckers" and "y'all reet" without even a single flutter of an eyelid. Plus there's the pies in Wigan and Formby 'beach' and the insane nights out in Leeds. The immense beauty of the Lake District and the lovely oldy worldy feel of York and Lancaster, not to mention the incredible music scene in Manchester and Sheffield. Plus we lay claim to the beautiful Geordie accent, as well as the slightly more controversial tones found only in Scouseland (I'm allowed to say that coz I'm half Scouse and proud).
And of course, there is my gorgeous, heart-warmingly welcoming, beautiful haven; Preston. Which almost nobody down here has heard of. Unless it's the football team. Which is rather embarrassing. ESPECIALLY when we're home to the UK's first KFC. Now if you have heard of Preston or have even been lucky enough to pay it a visit, you might think that my description is perhaps, maybe, a slight over exaggeration. Which is probably is, but bear with me.
Although Preston (and other parts of the North) may not be the most glamorous of places, don't be so quick to judge on what hear'say might tell you. I know I've been known to joke about the insanely good transport links to help you escape from Preston (Europe's biggest bus station dudes, just saying) but despite the stereotypes, we don't all live in caves and yes we have in fact discovered the wheel and just because my accent might not make me sound as intelligent as someone who speaks the Queen's English, doesn't make the assumption true. I can't deny that the picture above does make me feel a little nostalgic for home, but it does leave out some of the key elements that make the North such a special place in my heart.
For starters, it tries to represent the down to earth, grimy Northern scene as a bad thing. We're not necessarily grimy, we're just less fussy about the places we hang out. I'd like to point out at this point that I am speaking from my own experiences and in no way assume that all Londoners are the same, nor are Northerners. However since I came down to London, I have been to some shocking so-called classy bars, full of pretense and over-priced drinks, where I've had to wear heels and a tight dress to even be considered entry and boys have to pay £20 to get in whilst girls get off scott free. If that's not elitist sexism at it's finest then I don't know what is. Give me the shelter of Longton park on a rainy afternoon with my big warm over coat and 65p scallop barm any day. Or Warehouse where I can dance around like a loon in my trainers as unselfconsciously as I wish and regardless of gender the entry is just £2. And Southerners wonder why us Northerners have a certain depiction of this half of the country in our heads.
Another aspect of the North that I really miss is the general openness of people to one another. As pointed out in the link at the top of this post, sparking up a conversation with a stranger on the bus is totally normal where I'm from, in fact I regularly smile and greet people in the street, regardless of whether or not I know them. And that doesn't mean I'm a little bit unhinged; it's socially acceptable and actually quite nice that strangers can be so friendly to one another. Where as if I so much as glance at a passerby in London I risk being torn limb from limb by the dreaded death stare. Lighten up people, not everyone who is pleasant to you without being paid to be so is a complete psycho.
Above all, Preston, Lancashire and the North are simply home. Although I travel all over the world and live at the opposite end of the country, I have never felt more at home than when I'm back in my familiar surroundings of Hurst Grange Park and Fishergate High Street, where Gregg's sausage rolls are 2 for £1 and I have to stop to say hi to someone every five minutes. Not forgetting of course, my Grandma's legendary cooking. Northern Pride may seem strange to some, though to me, being proud of hearty food, cheap beer and exceedingly warm locals is a bit of a no brainer.