True Gripes
Ours is a divided capital. Crossing north over the horizontal Central Line of the London Underground is like passing through Alice's looking-glass.

All the values the English associate with Northernness - hard work, common sense, humour - are cruelly distorted in the lenses of a thousand designer spectacle frames. Most people know about the butchers' shops that have been abolished in favour of boutiques selling hand-knitted Evian holders, Hackney PC fascism, and the self-obsessed media spew that led one Guardian journalist this summer to propose the nightmarish theory of Islington as the nation's new think-tank. In a supremely north London gesture,he placed his own Islington house at the centre of his intellectual map.

But what really had me frightened, what made me think "these people must be stopped", was the infamous McDonald's Affair. Hampstead worthies rallied round to ban the burger chain from their chi-chi high street. "It doesn't do anything with vine leaves!" they cried. Meanwhile in an Evening Standard readers' poll, poor Joseph Public complained that McDonald's had been an affordable ray of hope in a desolate landscape of Vietnamese boulangeries. "Let them eat cake" made no bones about it, but "let them eatAlbanian patisserie at £6.40 a pop'' was a lot harder to stomach.

I am not saying that as soon as you pass southwards across the Central Line checkpoint at Tottenham Court Road you turn into an "All right, mate" trader in a body warmer and fingerless gloves who thinks "pretension" is a knock-off perfume he sells down the market. But I think it is fair to say that everyone would be better off if the remaining real people in north London would move south and the frontier could be sealed off. We would have trade embargoes on sun-dried tomatoes and platform clogs. Then the only time we would need to go up there would be when our salt-of-the-earth butchers got a bit short of meat.

This would necessitate a border raid to Islington - chanting the south Londoners' battle cry: "London Bridge is falling down!" Once across the Central Line, we would separate a media guru from the herd, shaved head lolling on its spindly black polo-necked stalk, kill it and drag the well-toned body back across the river to be made into more delicious Big Macs.

Until then, this occupying force must be endured: hypocritical, self-obsessed, affected, unsuitable to be the top end of anything, least of all this capital, and very unlike the top end of this country. Why can't the north be more like the North?

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