By Tim Collins
Ask a southerner what the main differences between Northerners and Southerners are and they’ll scoff that they’ve got gas and electricity, and don’t have to use the kettle to fill up the bath (or barth, as they call it). But you should be aware of a few genuine differences between the inhabitants of these two regions.
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1Northerners are friendlier
Walk into a shop and greet the person behind the counter in the North and they’ll greet you back. Walk into a shop in the South and greet the shopkeeper and they’ll tell you to buy something or get lost.
Try to turn out of a side road in the North and a fellow motorist will stop, give you a thumbs-up and let you onto the road. Try to turn out of a side road in the South and you’re likely to get a different hand gesture altogether.
The simple truth is that northerners are nicer. We say ‘thank you driver’ as we step off the bus. We make small talk in queues. We even, God forbid, chat to people who live on the same street as us. All of which might seem implausible to southerners who, despite being shoved into close physical proximity in their overcrowded bit of the island, act as if everyone around them is a hologram.
It makes you wonder why hermits bother to find caves when they want to escape from human contact. If they really want to achieve complete isolation, the best thing they can do is sit on a crowded rush hour tube and try and start a conversation.
2Northerners can hold their drink
A pub in Newcastle once offered customers free use of the toilets with every five pints of lager they bought. Needless to say, none of their patrons were soft enough to take them up on the offer, with most locals waiting until at least the following Tuesday to strain their greens.
3Northerners actually spend some of their waking hours outside of work
I know this sounds crazy, but in the North it’s actually possible to hold down a job by putting in less than seventy hours a week. In fact there are even some workplaces that are deserted at 5pm because everyone’s gone home or down the pub. I know that anyone down South who was caught suggesting such a worker’s uprising would be given a formal warning,but that’s what happens.
4Northerners can pop home after work before going out for the night
Many northerners live so near to where they work they can go home and get ready before going out on weeknights. Imagine that, commuters in the South East. It means you don’t have to wear dull office clothes in the pub or drag huge laptop bags around. You can even have a shower and roll on some deodorant before going out. So contrary to the stereotype that we only use baths to store coal or ride down hillsides in, most northerners are actually cleaner than their sweaty southern counterparts.
5Northerners have a bit more space around them
We don’t have to cram ourselves into trains and buses so tightly that we catch diseases off each other. We don’t have to go home to wardrobes that estate agents have sold to us as ‘luxury compact apartments’. And we can go for a walk in a park that’s slightly less crowded than Harrods on the first day of the January sales. And the irony, of course, is that northerners are nicer, so you don’t even want to be further away from them.
A day trip to the countryside from London really does take up an entire day. Wherever you are in the North, you can pop out for a country stroll and be back within a couple of hours. And we get proper countryside up here too, rather than the slightly less built-up industrial estates that count as countryside down South.
6Northerners offer their seats to pregnant women
If a pregnant woman gets on a bus or train in the North, it’s likely that someone nice will give up their seat so she can sit down. If a pregnant women gets on a bus or train in the South, everyone will bury their heads deeper into their broadsheets, pretend they haven’t seen her and mutter to themselves, ‘Well, she’s made her own bed and now she’s got to bloody well lie in it.’
7Northerners are harder
It’s a proven scientific fact that northerners are harder than southerners. Well, there’s no actual evidence, but come on. Just look at them. The hardest men in the entire south, such as Vinnie Jones and Ross Kemp, could still be beaten by the weakest, most malnourished child from the North. Even the words they use to describe hard people like ‘naughty’, ‘handy’ and ‘tasty’ sound soft.
8Northerners can actually do something useful
Ever tried to hire a plumber, a decorator or an electrician down South? Chances are they’ll turn up, make a mess and then get called away on an ‘urgent job’ for a few weeks, only to hit you with a bill that’s five times the estimate when they finish months later. The reason they behave like this is because they can. They enjoy their position of power because most southerners lack basic practical skills. They’re perfectly capable when it comes to wanging on in meetings. But when it comes to useful stuff they can’t find their arse with both hands. Let’s just take comfort from the notion that in the barbaric dark age we’ll all be plunged back into with the coming global apocalypse, we northerners can use our manual skills to build shelters and hunt for food while southerners huddle around the last remaining Nobo board and hold a brainstorming session about how to avoid starvation.
9The climate is warmer in the North
Admittedly, the statistics don’t back me up on this one. But think about it. Northerners wear T-shirts or skimpy dresses all year round, while southerners run off crying to the big coat shop as soon as August is over. So it must be true.
10The Currency is Different
Although the money used in the North and in the South looks the same, there are in fact two totally separate currencies, with one north pound equal to roughly four south pounds. If you’re planning a trip to the South, a good rule of thumb is to work out how much you think you’ll need, then double it, then double it again, then sell all your possessions and shove the money into a wheelbarrow before heading south.
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