Sales of arks have trebled up north and people are loading up their whippets and ferrets two by two. So far so stereotypical. Is it really true, though, that the good folks up north have been left high and not remotely dry by the Government? David Cameron popped up the M1 and was soon wading knee-deep through a river of accusations from those affected by the horrific floods: that this devastation wouldn’t be allowed to happen down south and serious cash would be splashed on the best flood defences money can buy to protect those fancy southerners.
In a distant echo of Kanye West’s outburst on live TV in 2005 that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” following Hurricane Katrina, the flood victims took to the airwaves to voice their anger. One lady in submerged York rang Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show and poured scorn on a royal visit but quipped that the Duke of York wouldn’t even know “where York is”. What are the good folks in flood-hit areas to do once the murky waters have receded? I can’t see Harrogate’s famous teashops being rebuilt on stilts. There’s talk of tiling floors and walls to protect them from future damage, house insurance going through the roof and looters sniffing around. It’s enough to test the mettle of any stoic northerner and my heart goes out to them all; it’s completely rotten.
Who’s to blame, though? Is it mother nature or politicians? As the floods creep southwards, will we see a north/south divide in policy and spending and if so does that divide still exist in all areas of life?
I don’t know if I’m qualified to investigate, to be honest. I was born and bred in Bolton but I’ve now spent half my life in London. I’m a weird hybrid – London cabbies accusingly shout “Yorkshire?” at me before my bottom’s hit their back seat yet my dad reckons I talk “like a cockney”.
Plus, to be fair, it’s not even a “north/south” divide but a “London/everywhere else” issue, as the capital feels like its own little planet, ringed by the M25.
Surely some qualities associated with the north (friendly folk, more space, cheaper prices) are found south too, in Southampton and Dorset?
Either way, as a northerner “dahn sarf” as the locals say, there are some glaring differences, a big one for me being chippy gravy which isn’t available in London. I so miss this unctuous, meaty nectar that on DJ gigs north of Watford my rider includes chips and gravy alongside the usual demands for gin, fresh lilies and dancing white tigers.
Sometimes it takes a visit from my family to make me realise how pampered and useless I am – eating out when it’s not a birthday, forking out for taxi waiting time (just get in the cab on time, dumbo) and paying a man to pop round to mine on his snazzy motorbike to put together my flatpack wardrobe (mobile handymen are not a thing that features in my dad or brother’s world).
I love it when my northern menfolk visit: they walk in, have a brew then instantly start fixing stuff, tightening screws and waggling hinges.
Sure, some things are definitely better up north – the water is softer but life isn’t actually harder – I’m just a spoilt madam these days.
Despite being an adopted Londoner – and loving it – I stay true to my northern soul (hollering “Good morning!” to tight-faced ladies walking their chocolate labs on Hampstead Heath and shouting things such as “Turn some lights off, it’s like Blackpool illuminations in here” at my confused family). From where I’m sitting the divide between these two is less a chasm than a crack.
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- Flooding UK