Saturday, 4 June 2011

A view South from the North.

You may have seen my earlier posting about the price of bottles of Buxton Water as sold in motorway service stations. I also commented on the price of Southern warm beer and the way that it is served up in some of the hostelries. I have been taken to task by both of my readers. First about where the demarcation line is located between North and South. Secondly, as to the nature of the purveyance of Southern beer.

Being a Northern gentleman, its ladies first. I need to scotch the rumour being put around by Sarah that Northerners would put up with being short measured. Up't North we men never measure up short. Its the same with our beer. The oversize beer glasses as used up't North have a fill mark, which coincides with the correct amount of the amber liquid.  As typical of the folk from the North, not wanting to waste that additional space. We allow it to fill with a nice, rich creamy head. I understand that those plastic containers used down South are not oversize and are an exact measure. Exact measurement plastic containers work fine when being used to serve flat beer. It may also account for the sticky feeling under your feet at the bar. I find beer served in plastic about as welcome as that other Southern wine drinkers tradition of beer served with a straw. I still don't under why you don't like the condensation running down the side of the glass, it might be because condensation doesn't happen with warm beer served in plastic.

Graham has suggested that Milton Keynes is actually located somewhere close to Scotland. Graham, keep drinking the bottled water and if you find it a bit to strong, you can dilute it to taste. I have some knowledge of the location of Scotland, being a man of the Highlands and Islands. It is just a tad further North than you might suppose. Now, preempting you're next three questions, “is there anything worn under the kilt”. I can assure you that there is nothing worn under the kilt. In fact, its all in perfect working condition. A sporran is not used for carrying porridge and a Dirk or "Sgian Dubh" pronounced skee an doo, is not only used to shave our beards.

Some Northern folk have other ideas about where the point of demarcation betwixt North and South should be located. So this got me into cogitation again about where the line should be drawn. For some of us living up't North in gods country. Watford Gap is where we think we should install the barrier. We will then build a passport booth on the North bound carriage way. To be honest we don't want to have a barrier on the South bound carriage way, because we feel that the Southerners need all the help they can get, as soon as possible and without undue delay. 

There is this popular belief by those from the South that “Last of the Summer Wine” is a representative stereotype of those who live in the North. I am pleased to say that this popular belief is correct. Based on tit-for-tat we hold the view that “Only Fools and Horses” is a fair stereotypical representation of the people of the South. A working-class life full of Trigger and Dellboy characters living in and around Peckham. I am pleased to say that as usual we are right again.
I thought I should put together a brief note about the ways and means of living. Plus trying to site the dividing line to the "Sarf" or Greater London. As observed, from a Northerners perspective.

History: There is nothing new in trying to establish a dividing line between North and South. Within the Church of England a North-South divide first appeared in the reign of Henry the eighth. At this time the Province of York and the Province of Canterbury were created. This two province agreement drew rough lines for a North-South divide. Even Henry VIII could not make up his mind about the dividing line. Henry would, as he did with his wives, chop and change his mind all the time.

Housing: In the North it has been noted that poverty is quite widespread in Southern England. In the main due to the cost of housing being beyond the average workers monthly remuneration. Rented accommodation is often minimal, yet expensive. Especially those properties towards the top end of the market. Where there is an inside toilet and glass in the windows upstairs. Yet, even now we understand that there is ongoing accommodation development in many areas of Greater London. Where the local council can boast about having recycling plans which include further encouragement of cardboard cities.

Whilst unemployment and low-waged contingent jobs are on the increase in the South. Examples of this wage/property gap can be found in such places as the East End of London. But all is not lost. As is portrayed in that unfortunately long running fly on the wall soap-umentary. About life in Albert Square in the East End. It must be nice to have something to aspire to.

Transport: The Southerners are a resilient people and have a make-do-and-mend attitude to the transport infrastructure. Public transport is often run using multi-refurbished vehicles that should be in the transport museum. With their bright red livery, clouds of particulates and a Reg Varney look-a-like sat at the wheel. We admire the quaint charm of London Transport.

Then there is the Red Ken inspired congestion charge. I can't believe that you pay a second time to use London's roads. (That you are already paying for the roads anyway, seems to have escaped everyone’s attention

Commuting: The railways have had their 1960's rolling stock updated to include toilets. However, many people with long hair and beards carrying a bottle in a brown paper bag seem to have missed this new innovation. Relief is taken by these people in the usual way in the corner of the carriage. With their new levels of comfort, including vandal proof plastic seating. Decorated inside and out with the entertaining amateur graffiti, seemingly inspired by Banksy.

The same level of comfort and decoration has been carried over to the tube rolling stock and platforms. However, it seems that Londoners are so ashamed of the Tube that they feel the need to hide it underground.

Diet: The staple diet of the Southern people is we understand Jellied Eels. This mouth watering and mind numbing dish consists of chopped eels boiled in a spiced stock. Then allowed to cool and set, forming a jelly to be eaten cold. Jellied Eels I understand can still be found in the Eel Pie and Mash Houses as well as in some top supermarkets. You can often find the dish on the Mash House posh menu listed in French under Merde aspic d'anguille or in the Pie House listed under German as Shiten Aal in Aspik.

Recipe: Eels are chopped into short rounds and boiled in mixture of water and vinegar, to make a fish stock. Large portion of Lemon juice and Lime juice are added to improve the taste. In difficult cases a litre of strong Chili paste can be added to improve the taste. Also add a good portion of Allspice, Anise, Arrowroot, Basil, Bay Leaves, Caraway Seed, Cardamom, Cayenne Pepper, Celery Seed, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cream of Tartar, Cumin, Curry Powder, Dill, Fennel Seed, Garlic, Ginger, Horseradish, Juniper Berries, Mace, Marjoram, Mint, Mustard Seed, Nutmeg, Onion, Oregano, Paprika, Parsley, Pepper, Poppy Seeds, Red Pepper, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Sesame Seed, Tarragon, Thyme, Turmeric and Vanilla. In very difficult cases its better to omit the eels.
Dress code: Have you ever wondered, why belts and braces are such an important part of the traditional apparel for Southerners. I think its due to their lack of knowledge of how buttons work. This lack of understanding is best illustrated by the Pearly Kings and Queens. Known as Pearly's or Perlies, they are a tradition of working class culture in London. Rather than stitch a button opposite a button hole, Pearlies stitch them everywhere else and use Velcro fastenings. The Pearly tradition is championed by the Original London Pearly Kings and Queens Association. However there is now a rival London Pearly Kings and Queens Society. The Fundamentalist Pearly Peoples Front are not to be outdone and have now set up their own rival group called the Pearly Guild

Language: Cockney pronounced "cocker nee" is the Southerners language of choice, a meld of rhyming slang and pidgin English. A bit of “Barney Rubble” is the same as saying in the Queens English I have a problem.  Apparently “Having a Giraffe” is a time for hilarity. Would you“Adam and Eve it”  No, I have to admit I would not.

Tourism: Two words that strike dread, deep depression and outright fear into the heart of every visitor to London are “Street Traders” or “Barrow Boys”. Ice cream is sold to the unsuspecting at £5 a chuck, plastic tower bridges at £10 a time. Change from a £10 note for an item costing £5 is 50p in small denominations. Costermonger was the old name for them. The new name is coster-packet.

Music: Traditional songs of the London working class are still alive and well, with old memorable favourites like Cockney dance song "The Lambeth walk" or “Knees up mother brown” and the memorable “My fathers a lavatory cleaner”. Traditional music echoing from pub doors. Who could ever forgive those cockney troubadours “Chas and Dave” and their repertoire of foot tapping classics of the future.

Art: Traditional art of the people has moved on from hanging in the gallery. It's now being sprayed on underpasses and bridges. However, in a clever move, the local councils now “recognise” this artwork as “Banksy” originals. It saves them the cost of cleaning up. However, Banksy is a copy of “Blek le Rat” who began to working with stencils in the 80's in Paris.

Sport: The 2012 Olympics are coming to the East End. This should prove to be a real test of skills for the competitors as they try to identify the correct sound of the starting pistol from the sounds of nearby gunfire. As an extra Olympic security measure, I understand that the Met Armed Response Unit is to be disarmed during this period. Due to the increased numbers of ethnic people out doing running training in hooded tracksuits.

Entertainment: Now Londoners have celebrity disk jockeys, with names like "Dog Bungo" who play "sets". In other words, someone chooses a selection of records and puts them on the record player. A skill acheived by most people in childhood. A bit like the BBC's Desert Island Disks, but done in a rich Caribbean patois.   Apparently the skill comes from different forms of "scratching". One is of bodily parts and the other is achieved by moving the record backward and forward under the record player needle. Is there no beginning to their talents.

Boris: The Mayor of London once described Gordon Brown as "A manic meddler  treating Londoners like a bunch of overweight and exhausted laboratory rats. He is like a drunk who has woken to the most appalling hangover, and who reaches for the whisky bottle to help him dull the pain."

So its not all bad "darn sarf" then.


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