Things you’ll only get if you’re a southerner who goes to uni in the North
‘Are you taking Sally up the snicket Dave?’
The excitement of going to uni and getting away from the stagnating social life of your hometown is an incredible time for everyone, but when you realise that you’ll be going to uni in a place known only to you as “The North”, fear and trepidation set in. Unknown lands which conjure images of Westeros and Middle Earth, who knows what awaits. There are many things that are different in the North that seem strange and even foreign to us naïve southerners.
Gravy is on everything
Unlike anything you’ve ever dealt with before, gravy will slowly creep into your life. Chips are the great leveller of class and location, everyone can enjoy them after a night out. In the South they are dressed with ketchup or mayo, maybe both, maybe some curry sauce if you wanted to pay for a meal as close as possible in flavour and appearance to your friends vomit.
In the North however there is no time for these amateur garnishes, there is only gravy. Thick, horrible gravy that is either so hot you require medical attention upon ingestion or so lukewarm and sticky that you can only feel sorry for whoever made it.
The endless uses for the word out
Fortunately for the lazy bones among us, in the North it is common place to replace longer words with much shorter and completely irrelevant words to what you mean. For instance, the word “anything” is commonly replaced with the word “out”. Common uses include “do you want out”. However this terminology twister causes lots of confusion, one of my favourite examples would be if someone were inquiring as to whether or not you had retrieved something from a cupboard, “did you get out out”. So simple. So pure.
A Lemon Top
Seldom seen and even rarer tasted, a lemon top is a mystery. Invented by the Italians in coastal Yorkshire, the lemon top is an ice cream unlike any other. Whilst in the South there is little that can beat a ’99 with a flake from the ice cream van, the Northerners have of course gone one better. Essentially a squirt of Mr. Whippy ice cream in a cone, with a blob of lemon sorbet on top, it seems extravagant beyond imagination for a place more famous for its striking miners than its artisan desert cuisine.
The nightlife is unreal
Before you leave your home town, you would be forgiven for looking at your hometown clubbing scene through rose-tinted glasses. Nice boys in blazers buying you drinks and nostalgic bangers played as loud as possible all seems just lovely. Once you’re past the turning to Birmingham on the M1, the party really kicks off.
As a southerner in the North you finally realise that clubbing back home is shit: lower league football players drinking champagne out of white plastic and girls vomiting on the floor with their tits out is not clubbing. Big name DJs and three trebles for a fiver is clubbing and the North has it in abundance. You can go out without stumbling over the cast of Towie and Made in Chelsea and you can get a taxi home safe in the knowledge you won’t be charged £30 to travel a distance shorter than you could realistically throw.
The weather is actually predictable
There is no point in pretending that British weather is anything other than shit. Clothes that appeared sensible in the morning are then completely ridiculous by midday. It snows in April and we have heatwaves in October. But there is something quite different in the North. The weather becomes far more predictable yet unfortunately much worse. Jackets have to be worn to lectures until well into June and it never snows which means there are no snow days to get you out of that 9am seminar.
Everything is drastically cheaper
The North has a mixed bag when it comes to finances. Hideously neglected by any welfare reform by any government ever and bereft so far of any vaguely productive transport links to the South, the North can often feel quite isolated. However there are some benefits to this. Away from the inflationary pressure of the demand flooding into London, the North is gloriously cheap.
Rent is cheaper than anywhere you could get in the South, booze is almost given away at some clubs, takeaway food is cheaper than any McDonalds (although the animal welfare and food hygiene behind all establishments leaves much to be desired) and even the fuel for the car that Daddy bought you because your horse died is cheaper.
You don’t have to wear shoes to a club
In order to get into almost any desirable club in the South you would feel hideously under dressed without a dress, heels or fancy shirt (or any ensemble of the previous). In the North however, it’s open season. Most crappy clubs are happy to overlook some tattered trainers as long as you don’t assault anyone inside.
Even the upmarket places recognise that Adidas and ripped jeans are the new Oxfords and chinos. The streets are cobbled and so impossible to navigate in anything heeled or with a leather sole. It’s too cold on a night out to risk exposed flesh and so jeans and track jackets are the new normal.
We all enjoy a fish and chips in the South. Even more so when it’s extra greasy and they throw in a few extra chips. This is nothing like fish and chips in the North. It costs half the price and you get twice as much. You can pick out the Southerners in the local chippy up North because they all stare open mouthed as a veritable mountain of chips is rolled up with their fish. But the real bonus is yet to come.
The kindly fryer will offer you scraps. “What is that” you ask as you immediately reveal yourself as a Southerner and a heathen. Scraps are a beautiful thing. All the batter that falls off the fish in the cooking and hot holding processes are collected and served on top of your chips. For no additional charge! It seems baffling that these aren’t an option in the South given that excess batter will surely still occur in a chippy.
The Oxford Dictionary describes a ginnel as a narrow passage between buildings: an alley, and describes a snicket as a narrow passage between houses: an alleyway. As you and I both can see, these mean the same thing, but don’t let that stop you Northerners.
You will hear both used in equal measure, to describe wildly different but similar sounding passage ways. Be prepared to hear them used in hideously sexual sounding but really quite innocent conversations: “Are you taking Sally up the snicket Dave”? “Yeah I think Chris came down the ginnel, let me check”.