My North South Divide
I live in the East Midlands, a little North of Nottingham. I am aware that to many of you, that will put me firmly in The North. But I grew up in the North East, a little South of Newcastle, in a place that regarded North Yorkshire as being firmly in the South. So there.
When, at 17, I was applying for universities, it didn’t occur to me to give any thought to the differences I might find if I went Down South. So when I got to Bath (still not “Barth” to me, even after all this time), I was in for a bit of a shock.
I was living in Halls for the first year, and in my block of 8 rooms, the seven other girls were all from The South (well, one was from Huddersfield, and another from The Black Country but see above as to where they are located). The other five all went to private school before uni, all spoke terribly well, and didn’t understand much of what I said to start with. Which was odd, because Up North, I was often told I didn’t have much of a Northern accent. Apparently I had enough of one! Within six weeks, I had lost most of my accent (though it does come back still, generally if I’m shouting. Which I never do, obviously).
Other things I found odd .. the chips tasted different. On the odd occasion we went into Bath (the uni being located 4 miles from Bath, and first years not being allowed a car on campus) and to a chip shop, the chips were …. odd. Fresh. Not sitting getting soggy (I still prefer soggy chips, sorry). Not cooked in lard (though I admit this is a good thing). I was vegetarian and Up North my chip shop options were chips or chips and pineapple ring in batter. Not a pineapple fritter like you might get in a Chinese takeaway. Just a pineapple ring in chip shop batter served with chips and plenty of salt and vinegar. Delish. I got some very odd looks and incredulous questions when trying to order that in Bath. They had mushrooms in batter, which were soggy, and not in a good way.
And it was moving to Bath that opened my eyes to the idea that bread buns have different names around the country. Buns, baps, rolls, cobs .. who knew? But one thing was for sure. Stottie was nowhere to be found. Now, stottie is not just a Northern name for a bread roll. Stottie Cake is a particular kind of bread (not a cake, despite its name), and I love it. We used to go to Greggs (before Greggs was all over the UK mind you) and buy a stottie. We’d have a quarter each for a sandwich. I had no idea that you could not get them if you weren’t in the North East. It’s your loss, believe me. These days, I can’t eat them anyway, but I still crave them. Crave them. Given that you can’t get a stottie this far South (the Midlands), I do not hold out much hope that any company will devote time trying to make a gluten free version, let alone perfecting it. A bad stottie is surely worse than none at all.
Phrases were odd too. I remember saying we couldn’t do something (I’ve no idea what it was now, and I’m shocked that I was so Hermione Granger [1st year] about it, whatever it was), because we’d “get wrong”. This is a perfectly acceptable turn of phrase Up North, but I swear all seven of them looked at me like I was speaking Martian. Apparently, it was so strange, they couldn’t manage to decipher what those words might mean. It seems fairly plain to me that it means we’d get into trouble. Perhaps they breed them a bit dim Down South? 😉
No real point to this post; I was just musing whilst making a gluten free lasagne (for the kids to push around their plates before declaring they’re not hungry) that I really fancy a stottie. Alas, I will have to make do with a warmed up, vacuum packed gluten free panini.