Sometimes at university, you’re able to spot divides between people. Lecturers vs students, older vs younger, boys vs girls… in the most harmless sense of course, it’s natural that we have loosely different categories. In Portsmouth there are a great many students have have either been born and raised in Portsmouth itself, or a town or two away. This is actually quite lovely, as it makes the place feel all the more homely knowing locals don’t necessarily flee as soon as humanly possible. Then, there are the number of us that have come from elsewhere: Southerners, Londoners, Northerners, people from Malta, New Zealand, America, Spain and countless other places. All in all, we seem to find our way and rub shoulders together on the course just fine, enjoying the diversity of each others journeys, stories and pasts (or what we tell of them). My observation comes more from the social aspect of intermingling as well as the time we spend briefly conversing and bonding during lecture/ seminar breaks. It’s that beyond the foreign sense of otherness we observe in those who have travelled from a different county, nation or even continent and are trying to decipher exactly how to live in a new city and get on well with those around them beyond their own nationality- it’s the bizarre and quite ancient sense of rivalry that still exists between people who hail from the North of England and those who come from the South. I confess to being one of the most southern of southerners myself: born on the outskirts of London, schooled in Suffolk and living in Cambridge for several years, you barely get more tweedy, plummy or country than that. I’ve always been proud of my routes, and the way my family and father raised me to behave and speak… It has though, as my life has moved around and become less glued around the nations capital, set myself and my family members apart sometimes. Mostly not in a negative sense- people delightfully pointing out ‘you’re so well spoken!’ Or, on slightly less pleasant occasions ‘you’re well posh…’ in an unabashedly accusatory tone. Again, I try not be embarrassed or sheepish and simply respond ‘ Thanks. It’s how my Dad taught me to speak’, hopefully closing the subject as quickly as it opened. Occasionally, this response is not enough. People will act as though it makes me odd, pretentious, or in some way ‘other’ to who they are, or where they’re from. Where this rivalry and nit picking can come in the strongest however, is between northerners and southerners in general- I thought this bizarre gap would have closed generations ago, we’re such a diverse and open country now, accepting people from all over the globe and making it their home to, how can we possibly still feel a sense of defence, rivalry or history between the north and south ends of this relatively tiny island? Well, evidently we can. Don’t misunderstand, most of the time the subject is bantered over in good humour. Cracks are made about each others accents, the lacking in either side’s cuisine, the landscapes, the attitudes with money, the manners, the honesty… the list goes on and on. What I never expected was for this tradition of barbing each other to have trickled down to students today, and I’m consistently surprised whenever the issue is brought up or pointed out in an unnecessary or aggressive way. I suppose what I hope is, if we can overcome what must have been a strangeness at first (many years ago) of accepting different colours, cultures and accents from around the world onto our island home, why can’t we put to rest the petty squabbling between the North and South, that besides when we were literally fighting over farmland in centuries gone by, is 100% pointless, and 100% irritating?

1 Comment on “North vs South

  1. Heavy sigh reading this. I totally agree with everything you’ve said. Coming from a country which is essentially a level playing field when it comes to class differences, I find it extraordinary that in this day and age people perceive any kind of gap between themselves and others. If we can be so open minded as to acknowledge ‘gender neutral’, should we make a move towards ‘accent neutral’? It would help me no end … 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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