Once upon a time a teenage girl sat in a car on a long journey and practised being northern.
This involved the following:
1. Inserting word pants instead of trousers;
2.Saying the the word Vimto repeatedly. Vim, torrrrr (roll tongue);
3.Impersonating characters in Coronation Street;
4. Discussing merits of ferrets and if they tickle when up trousers (pants);
5.Rolling socks up to knees, then wrinkling them, Nora Batty style.
Yes, this was me rehearsing my northern cliches as I headed excitedly up the M6 with my long-suffering parents and soon-to-be northern siblings.
Of course what I didn’t realise, as I donned my dad’s leaving present flat cap, was that I had so much more to learn.
Born in London and shifted around the country with my dad’s job, it was this move north that was to influence my life, as I know it. From my first day at school, where I was reprimanded for failingto call a teacher Sir – a big shock to my liberally educated teen self .
Then my first northern meal (Do I want gravy with my chips? Errr.. really?)
And not to mentioned my first sip of the fabled and aforementioned Vimto – at the time this northern nectar had not made it further south than Wigan.
But these were the tip of the learning curve.
Because, make, no bones about it, northern people are different. No horns to be seen, no scales that I’ve noticed but different all the same. Without even starting on the pronunciation of grass, my first discovery was the famous northern friendliness.
As my parents originate from the North East and Manchester, it was not a complete shock that even strangers shared the contents of their head willy nilly and without even introducing themselves. But this trait, translated into angsty northern teenagers, was terrifying.
So within two hours of arrival in my new northern life I had ascertained the following:
1. I was posh.
2. I was stuck up.
3. Gillian from English had a ferret and it had never been up her pants (trousers).
4. My socks were nowhere near long or wrinkly enough.
5. I was posh (and stuck up) partially because of the socks.
That day, this hurt, as it would. But I’d been told. And the next day at school, socks duly wrinkled and ‘posh voice’ dimmed by three hours rehearsal (vim- torrrr), I began my transition to northerner and never looked back.
The day I realised I was a naturalised northerner was an epiphany – and on a tube train on a visit to London. It was crushed, nobody could breathe and I had arrived at my station.
“Excuse me,” I said breathlessly to the be-suited businessman in front of me. He moved, but sniggered at my politeness. “Bloody northerner,” he muttered under his breath.
Yes I bloody am and hopefully will remain so – happily ever after.