The Midlands is a place, don’t tell me I live in the North (or South)
Ever heard of Stratford-upon-Avon?
You open your third can of Stella. Someone turns Bieber up to three quarter volume on the iPod dock and the girls walk in – make-up fresh and doe eyed. You’re at pre-drinks, for anything. A warehouse party in an industrial estate, a Disco night somewhere London, probably a borough now more famous for its great artisan market than violent protest, or an SU Wednesday on your old stomping ground. It all sounds familiar – but the people you’re with aren’t. The kind of night you either relish or develop a rash at the thought of, depending on your disposition. You don’t know anyone there.
“So where are you from, Oli?”
Have you ever heard of Stratford-upon-Avon? Yeah, it’s where Shakespeare was born, a bit south of Birmingham and Coventry. The Midlands, well, the West Midlands.
“Don’t you mean the South?”
You can interchange South and North in that last sentence, depending on the heritage of your inquisitor. If they’re Southern they tend to view anything past the Watford Gap as Northern. If they’re Northern… Well if you don’t have chips with your curry then you go to your Stonehenge drum circle. All of these people are wrong. Because the Midlands is a place, full of people and things.
Broad Street, Bicester Village, the look of despair in the eyes of anyone from Derby (or Nottingham), 2 Tone, Balti, America, Walkers crisps.
If you have enjoyed any of the above, you owe it to the Midlands. Yes, even the Land of the Free. Some religious types fled there from Nottinghamshire and an oil war waging superpower was born. Thanks, separatists.
So don’t try and tell me my hometown doesn’t have a wider identity. It does, we just don’t feel the need to group into a homogenous mass, like a school of fish in an ocean of gravy. You can tell me it’s neither here nor there. For goodness sake, I need to stop ranting. I’ll remind you you’re using expressions that, without Shakespeare, wouldn’t even exist. We might not wear our hearts on our sleeves, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have them. I’m from a real place, full of people and things. Remind yourself of that next time you pose for a picture next to the Bull Ring bull.