In exactly the same ways as some corner of a foreign field is forever England, the same can be said for Yorkshire. This is because, wherever we end up, we take a bit of it with us – normally the slice which finds bars dangerous places for money and people a bit mouthy for their brains.
And the reason for this is that everything and everyone is compared unfavourably to some utopian vision of where we were born but couldn’t wait to leave. Hypocrisy is narrowly relegated just behind grumpiness in our rambling hierarchy of regional traits.
One of the owners of our Devonshire holiday retreat is a “Westy” hailing from the Ridings on the border of Lancashire. This is a much disputed hotbed of geographical angst, where Yorkshire overspills into our hated neighbour much like an extreme case of middle age spread.
At school, this bulge into the wrong side of the Pennines was considered to be of similar importance to Alsace-Lorraine being repatriated back to France from Germany after the treaty of Versailles. I kid you not
Before GPS, we found out where people lived by their accents and this old persons skill can still range fellow Yorkies to about thirty miles. So once bonded on county grounds, we fell back to easy regional stereotypes as if happily ensconced on our own virtual Ilkley Moor.
Ted: “Nice camera you have there, must’ve cost a few bob”
Al: “Got it 2nd hand off a mate. Wouldn’t pay full price for one, that’d be soft”
Al : “That 4be4 in the drive, is that yours? Looks new”
Ted: “Well, it is but I beat t’dealer up until he gave me five grand off and first use of ‘er indoors. Anyroad, you need a proper off roader here” [ waves hand indicating motoring hazards not immediately obvious in the soft rolling countryside.]
Al: [nods sagely]“Right thee are. Reckon you’ll be needing it with all this rain”
Ted: [scanning the cloudy sky]: “Aye, looks like it’ll be proper wet again. Still not like my days as a boy. Most years, we swam t’school in our duffle coats and wellies, spent first hour draining playground wi’ leaky buckets and then drank what were left”
Al: “know what tha means. In t’winter, we sledged to school on family dog and t’weak bairns were left to die in t’snowdrifts. One lad, came from so far over yonder” [ huge sweep of arm for emphasis ] “he were generally found riding his Pa’s Yak”
Ted: “Yak? Bloody ‘ell, where did he park it?”
Al: “Bit odd really. He used to rent it out at break for soft lads who couldn’t find wimmin for.. well you know”
Ted: “Ah well good to see it being put to good use. Surprised tho young boy’d be ready for a Yak”
Al: “We were surrounded by bloody great cows wi’horns. We trained, trained I tell thee on Yaks before moving ont’ rough stuff”
[Short pause while we considered whether bestiality could ever be a good thing]
Ted “What happened to yon yak then?”
Al: “Went t’donkey sanctuary. Proper mental it were by fifth year”
Ted: [cautiously]: “Why’s that then?”
Al: “Poor bugger had its’ brains fucked out”
Ted [strokes chin] “Aye, well fair dos, guess it had a good innings”
We parted amiably not sure if we’d been speaking out loud. Being proper Yorkshiremen, neither of us would admit to actually dreaming up huge whoppers for the sole purpose of trumping our regional colleague.
Still I’ve noticed they’ve kept their dog on a short leash ever since.
* other nonsensical dialect is available including the pithy “tha’s not as green as tha cabbage is painted” and the almost Shakespearian “bloody ‘ell, I couldn’t get me ‘at on”