How to spot a Northerner – a handy guide

Simone Fraser shares her top tips on how to survive interactions with someone from the mysterious North.

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We’ve all heard legends of them. The mythical, aggressively friendly, Greggs-eating species of humans that populates the hills and valley of the uppermost reaches of our country. The Northerner. I can only imagine the fear that some of you must have felt coming to Oxford, and seeing these beings in the wild – making eye contact on public transport, chanting “Yorkshire, Yorkshire” at any public event after they’ve had a pint, and eating alien cuisine like the fabled chicken parmo. But fear not, I, a reformed Northerner, am here to teach you how to identify these fearsome beings and endure their alarming behaviours. Read on for top tips on how to survive.

IN THE PUB

Frequenting pubs in Oxford is often a traumatising experience for the Northerner. Raised in a blessed land where a pint of lager for more than £3.50 is ‘a bit steep’, the cost of a round at Turf is enough to bring us to tears. Indeed, accidentally spending £11.70 on a pint of Pimm’s at the Boat Race (yeah you read that right) is possibly the most traumatic thing that has happened to me in almost twenty years on this planet, and I still occasionally wake in a cold sweat thinking about it. It’s easy to spot a Northerner at the pub by watching to see them go through the stages of grief when ordering at the bar, or later in the night drowning their sorrow in a pint with faint mutterings of how much they miss their local. You can usually distract the grieving northerner with a pork pie – many of us were raised solely on them from a young age. However, if this does not work I would advise you to leave the situation as soon as possible, and not to engage with the distraught being, however pitiful they may appear.

ON THE BUS

It always takes me a few days to adjust to the public transport in the North of England when returning from the Oxford Bubble. Partly this is because it’s appalling (I’m writing this from a Hull Trains carriage that’s squeaking like an angry mouse and has holes in all the seats), but also because of how chatty everyone is. I’m used to putting in my headphones and expecting to talk to no-one except the bus driver (always say thank you to the driver boys and girls), but that’s borderline impossible in some places. If you’re on a bus, train, or other assorted vehicle and someone starts up a conversation out of the blue, they’re almost certainly from the north. All I can say is persevere, my brave anti-social southerners, because I do feel your pain with this one. We’re mostly harmless, and you can always pretend that you don’t speak English as a final resort. Once again follow the three Hs – head down, headphones in, hide from the scary social interactions.

AT CLOSE QUARTERS

If I had a pound for every time my vocabulary and/or (not particularly strong) accent has confused someone down here, I’d be able to buy as much overpriced Pimm’s as my heart desired. We northerners have developed our own secret words used to disorientate and confuse the poor defenceless Southerner in order to trick them into paying for our drinks – it’s nothing short of an evolutionary survival method. When faced with such terrifying words as ‘nowt’ ‘summat’ or ‘scran’, there are several key survival methods you can employ. My recommendation is to introduce a debate about the pronunciation of scone, call the Arctic Monkeys overrated and see them meltdown, or if all else fails curl yourself firmly into the foetal position until the Northerner becomes bored and ceases to converse. 

Hopefully this short but very serious guide to interacting with Northerners will make your life more bearable. As I hope you have realised whilst reading this article, I would never approach such a frightening and difficult topic with anything but the most sincere words and I look forward to my ground-breaking research on the topic being continued by other academics. Maybe one day we will live in a world where Northerners and Southerners can live side by side without such horrific divides… but until then, stay strong.

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