I have a confession to make. Some of you may not recognise this, or have noticed it about me thanks to my fantastic efforts through my life to limit its impact, but still: I am northern, specifically from Yorkshire. There – the last scintilla of doubt just rode out of town. Now those of you who were in denial, or those of you who just hadn’t noticed, or those of you who thought I was southern can all rest easy in the knowledge that I am from the place that is poor, makes a treasured, regional dish out of batter and consumes a lot of mushy peas.
The reason I start with that is because I know some people – mainly northerners – either genuinely don’t know I’m from Yorkshire or just think I’m foreign or something. I have to explain that because it seems just about everyone from the south of the country thinks I have the thickest northern accent known to man. Let this also be said: I don’t. You’re an idiot who has never spoken to northern people (most of who I don’t understand) if you think I have anything approaching a thick accent.
Anyway, this treatment leads to quite a lot of what I like to call “being patronised” – that means “having someone talk down to you”. Don’t get me wrong – my friends are all fine, and there’s the healthy amount of ribbing you associate with Being Born Somewhere and Not Sounding Like Everyone Else. Ask Adam at work – he’s from Blackburn, the poor bastard.
But I think you would be surprised to learn how much I am treated either in a patronising or dismissive way by some people when meeting them for the first time, or when I’m part of a group of people – those kinds of situations. They hear the accent, they assume dumb, you get treated accordingly. It honestly takes time and effort on my part, with some people, to wear them down into believing the words I say aren’t accidentally forming these deep-friend chunks of hilarity, and that I don’t actually sound like Geoffrey Boycott crossed with Alan Bennett. I always get through to them though, given enough time and exposure to me and the accent.
I’d hate to think how hard it is for Lancastrians though. Poor, poor, poor bastards. “Y’avin’ a breeeeeeeeeuw?” Idiots. Ahem.
So I may not ever be persecuted for being black, attacked for having religious beliefs that not many others have, vilified for KILLING JESUS LIKE BASTARDS or any other genuine, hurtful, petty, small-minded and altogether pathetic form of discrimination. But I’m definitely on a par with the plight of all minorities everywhere in the world ever. Definitely. DEFINITELY.