‘Oh my Gawwwd, say ‘baaarrth’: Meet Exeter’s northerners
Yes, they actually go here
I’m from a small town in Leicestershire, but at Exeter that means I may as well be a Scottish Highlander.
I spent the first two days of Fresher’s trying to explain to people where I was from before settling on “Near Birmingham”. When I showed someone where my town was on a map “I thought the world ended at Birmingham” was their genuine response.
One of the first people I met during Fresher’s Week tried to identify with me by saying “my Dad’s a Scouse”. As much as I appreciate the solidarity I don’t need reassurance that other Northerners exist. I later met said-Dad and he was “rah” personified.
Another time, somebody else didn’t quite gauge the condescending tone in suggesting that I go on a house swap with her boyfriend from Hampshire… I’m from the North, not the slums of Rio De Janeiro.
I am also fairly sure that people here think that I was sent into the mines instead of going to primary school.
God forbid I reveal my favourite meal, a disclosure met with looks of disgust and disdain.
What can I say, I’d choose a steak n’ ale pie over foie gras on bruschetta any day of the week. I am who I am.
When introduced to visiting family or friends I am “The Token Northerner”. Just a faceless, nameless geographical region rather than a person.
I guess it’s nice to have an official title though, everyone else here has one.
Fellow fresher and English student Georgie, who is from Birmingham and has been subjected to relentless discrimination, said: “On the first day I was labelled “the northerner” and people asked if I could understand their conversations, because apparently we don’t speak English North of the M25.
“I’m also regularly asked if I want gravy with all my food.”
Though being northern does mean that I’m a straight-talking pie-eating ayup-m’ducking way-aye-petting truth-teller. So no, I couldn’t list the countries which South East Asia consists of, and I’ve definitely never ridden an elephant or gone to a Full Moon party.
I have met Exeter students from further north than me, but I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from your average Guildford Exeter student.
“Yeah I’m from the North”: sorry mate, but if you’ve spent most of your life at a boarding school in Surrey it just doesn’t count.
In my halls the Queen’s English is standard dialect for everyone except me and this one girl from Essex.
“Rogue”, “mare”, “garms”, “obvi” are just every day fixtures of the vernacular. Every time I say a word comprising of an “uh” sound I am met with a mimicking entourage of Southerners, and when, in response, I tell them politely to “fuck off” they all rejoice as I fall into the trap once again.
It’s a tragic state of affairs, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Second year Historian Heather, originally from Manchester, said she has been made victim to such mickey-taking throughout her time here at Exeter:
“When I got here everyone was like ‘Oh my Gawwwd, you’re so northern, say ‘baaarrth’ and now I’ve lost my northern accent, which I’m so disappointed about.”
Devoed, I’m sure.
We northerners do have our strengths though: Fish ‘n Chips is a delicacy of refined proportions rather than a mere boozey binge.
And we pioneered getting “mortal”, so going out is always a wondrous occasion.
Plus, it doesn’t take us an hour to get into a club the size of a corner shop, nor do you need to open a savings account to be able to afford a pint.
And a Made in Chelsea star would never pull in the northern crowds, Geordie Shore’s much more our thing. We’re a classy bunch.
On the other hand, encountering a carpeted interior at a club arouses much confusion and will likely push us from the verge of being sick to full-blown regurgitation of our battered Mars Bars. It’s just not practical.
I’m tired of being defined by my (remotely) northern roots. I’m still human at the end of the day.
All I want is to be judged for who I am not where I’m from, is that too much to ask?