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July 15, 2007



"With the possible exception of Harry Enfield at his peak..."

Harry Enfield had a peak? Think I must have missed that...


"Northerners listen, Southerners talk."

Explain Scousers.

"Northerners have character, Southerners have presentation."

Explain Derek Hatton.

Mark Wadsworth

Agreed. The older I get the more I realise that most prejudices/clichés about people have a lot of truth in them.


You're all just varieties of cockney to me, matey.

David Farrer

And where is Leicester?

Roger Thornhill

1) More to do with coal and geography, I'd say. Northerners had the coal and iron to MAKE stuff. Southerners had the location to sell. Right now, Southerners are "doing" quite alot, thankyou. A heck of a lot.

2) He might not talk much, but a Yorkshireman listen? As for language and timing, it is British - the North has no unique claim. Examples: Ronnie Barker, Peter Cook, Stephen Fry.

3) I must be part Northern, then.

4) As above.

5) You must be kidding. Dodgy disability claimants and some forms of State employment almost constitute "benefit fraud"!

6) Londoner and proud of it.

Sorry, Chris, your post does not pass muster.

Bob B

"It's the presumption that Northernness is a body of transferable knowledge. It's not."

I was instantly reminded of the immortal insights in chp.7 of George Orwell's The Road to Wigan (1937) as well as much else therein about "Northernness":

"There is no doubt about the Englishman's inbred conviction that those who live to the south of him are his inferiors; even our foreign policy is governed by it to some extent. . . There is nevertheless a real difference between North and South, and there is at least a tinge of truth in that picture of Southern England as one enormous Brighton inhabited by lounge-lizards."

Logic is almost certainly on your side, S&M. "Northernness" is a state of mind rather than a body of transferable knowledge and skills. But surely the fascinating insight is that Leeds Metropolitan University evidently believes the contrary and the impelling reasons for that (verging on theological) conviction can be taught.

London Independence Party

Bob B

I can venture to suggest a body of (eminently respectable) fiction literature in the spirit of Richard Hoggart's The Uses of Literature (1957) which projects both a vision of Nothernness and the social values which either differentially characterise the north, rather than London and the south, or which northerners like to believe about themselves. How about these novels?

Robert Tressell: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914).
Barry Hines: A Kestrel for a Knave (1968)
Alan Sillitoe: Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (1958)
Stan Barstow: A Kind of Loving (1960)

Others may disagree about the selection or have their own commendations.


And in Shetland you're all Southerners. Even an Aberdonian is a 'sooth-moother' (south mouther).


[Damien Hirst - a Southerner despite growing up in Leeds ]

I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous, but this bit rather throws it into sharp relief. I suppose Peter Cook was a Northerner while T Dan Smith was a Southerner too.


Can't find fault in any of this, Chris. Perhaps I must be a Northerner. Is Leicester north?


Interesting totty, by the way.

Bob B

"Is Leicester north?"

No - Leicester is south of the Trent, which was the traditional historic boundary between the north and south of England. North of the Watford Gap is a recent piece of irony. In medieval times, there were separate Royal Heralds for north and south of the Trent and in those times, heralds were important functionaries who disseminated Royal proclamations.

At the time of the Civil War in the 1640s, the King raised his standard at Nottingham, which is on the Trent, while Leicester, not very far south, was for Parliament, as was most of the south of England and East Anglia, including London but excepting the west country. Most of the north and the west country were for the King, at least initially.

The historic divisions in the respective traditions of north and south run deep but it's a complete myth to think in terms of a uniformly affluent south and an impoverished north.

"A Sheffield suburb has been named as the wealthiest place in England outside London and the south east. A survey by Barclays has found that nearly 8% of people in the Sheffield Hallam constituency earn more than £60,000 a year. This puts it in 17th place in the top 20 of most affluent places ahead of traditionally wealthy areas such as Twickenham and Windsor. The only other district outside the south east in the top 20 is the Tatton constituency in Cheshire."

"The richest people in England live in the north, not the south-east, once house prices are taken into account, a study has calculated. The study, from Barclays Private Clients, looked at people's wealth in England and Wales after the cost of living - including house prices - were taken out. It found that eight of the 10 wealthiest places were in northern English counties.

"Tatton in Cheshire, home to David and Victoria Beckham, as well as ex-Tory MP Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine, topped the league.

"The study found the actual average wage in Tatton was £29,303.
But that was worth a 'real' average income of £41,506 once the cost of living was taken into account, it said.

"Hallam in Sheffield came a close second with an average 'real' income of £41,289."

The Tolpuddle Martyrs, who marked the beginnings of what we came to understand as the modern trade union movement, came from Dorset - they were farm workers sentenced to Transportation for breach of the Combination Acts in 1834. The machine-braking Luddites started in Nottinghamshire. But the legal immunities enjoyed by the trade unions were an outcome of a Royal Commission set up to inquire into the Sheffield Outrages of 1866:

By several accounts, during the depression of the 1930s, Leicester was one of the most prosperous cities in Europe:

"Business life prospered in [Leicester] especially from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. As a result, in the 1930s Leicester – according to some per capita estimates – was one of the wealthiest cities in Europe."

chris y

Bob, never mind recent occurrences like the Civil War, it's all to do with the Danelaw.

tom s.

If Northernness is a set of habits of mind rather than a geographical origin, then surely these habits can be taught (like other habits of mind) and so you should be arguing in favour of including it in university curricula rather than otherwise. It's like gender vs sex innit - a social thing rather than an innate thing?

Bob B

Thanks Chris. At various times and from various folk, I've come across that claim about the downstream consequences of the Viking raids in the north and Danelaw.

The last major threat was in 1066, when Harold, the last of the Saxon kings of England, had to fend off an attempted invasion by the Danes in the north before taking the long march south with his army to Hastings to unsuccessfully confront the invading army of William, Duke of Normandy. Harold was killed.

One huge problem with the Danelaw thesis is that if we look at the geographical distribution of place names with Danelaw endings - most typically -by, as in Oadby, just outside Leicester - we find high densities of such names in the East Midlands and East Anglia, which are not sub-regions we typically associate with Northernness. Evidently, other factors apply.

The medieval administrative practice of appointing separate heralds for the north and south of the Trent was instated after the Norman Conquest. I don't think we should write off what the Civil War of the 1640s brought out. Charles would have had good reason to raise his standard at Nottingham.

An earlier historical indicator, for what it is worth, was that that Elizabeth, on her Royal tours, never travelled further north than Leicester. And it was at Bosworth, just outside Leicester, that Henry Tudor, her grandfather, defeated the army of Richard III, the last of the Yorkist monarchs. Curiously, the Battle of Naseby in 1645 (note the Danelaw ending of the place name), one of the decisive battles of the civil war, was fought just a little way south of Leicester. The Royalists were routed. Leicester seems to have been pivotal at several historic turning points.

On the roots of the English, it's also worth noting that satirical poem by Daniel Defoe: The True-Born Englishman (first edition, 1701), not least for its perceptions (correct or otherwise) about the ethnically heterogenous origins of the English. Defoe makes several passing references to the pillaging and raping Danes and Vikings:

Bob B

Btw has anyone read this book?

Brian Sykes: Saxons, Vikings and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland (WW Norton, 2007)


Gils aloud can sing? Thats fucked the rest of your argument!

"Northerners have character, Southerners have presentation."

Explain Blair then?

Mr T

As a born and bread southerner (Berkshire/London) living in Northumberland, this is an interesting read, and there's some truth in the stereotypes described for sure. Obviosuly not everyone fits the bill but a lot do!

All in all I like the northerners i've met here, and get the impression they like me despite or becasue of? my southern character! I find there is a friendliness and warmth combined with a fiery no nonsense attitude.

it's great up north...but I still miss down south.

Matt Munro

While I was at Durham (a posh bit of the north if that isn't an oxymoron) I remember visiting a "locals" pub. I attempeted to cleanse my mind of sterotypes involving flat caps, whippets, cricket and bitter. However once inside I realised that the clientele consisted entirely of men over 50, who were mostly wearing flat caps, were all drinking bitter and were watching a testmatch on TV. Attempting a conversation with the barman illuminated the real meaning of the word "dour". During my stay at the bar a middle aged woman poked her head round the door and said "Are you coming home for your tea" to which one of the assesmled ccricket watchers replied "No", to which she left. Tick box against "blunt speaking". Stereotypes always have a kernel of truth.

BTW You're wrong about girls aloud singing - although they do look a lot dirtier than the spice girls ever did.

Luis Enrique

I'm not sure that Noel Gallagher listened to the Beatles that hard, or at least all he seems to have heard is a dreary MOR rock band. And I don't think that Damon Albarn and David Bowie's ability to reinvent themselves is a matter of them being about 'presentation' rather than 'character'.

dave heasman

The South -
Harry Roberts, Kenneth Noye, Terry Adams, The Krays, and Richardsons

The North

Ian Brady, Harold Shipman, Ian Huntley.

Oh and that bloated drug dealer from Manchester whose name I forget. And didn't that Mad Dog proddie from Ulster settle in Bolton?


As a southerner, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you that you're mistaken in this area. I thought this was just my southern pride [which you claim i don't have, & that instread i have "guilt"] getting in the way of being unbiased, but then i read "NOrtherners would never worry about being cool". Are you joking? Nothing against people from the north, but it simply cannot be true. I'm beginning to think you're ignorant on the subject, but your writing skills [which i admit you have] allow you to say anything that comes to mind.

Brittany W.

Honestly it's so crowded in the North, people aren't as close to each other as in the South and it takes so long to get everywhere b/c of traffic, people always have this pissed off attitude and just want to get out their way. The South is place to raise a family. People always like to talk badly about the South, but it's in the North where people bluntly say what they want and have bad attitudes.


I think the whole of Australia is full of ancestral notherners? they are are extremely blunt and are what northerners were like in 1850.

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