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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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It’s Kate and Wills' big day, not ours

We northerners are accused of being party-poopers. Show us a party and apparently we’ll be queuing up to start... pooping, I mean.

Unlike southerners, who have signalled their excited intentions to celebrate that wedding with ice cream, jelly, cup cakes and Carole Middleton’s online bunting, we’re less than jubilant.

In the south east and Home Counties they’re planning to cram every street off, around and including the M25 with union flags and burger vans. In the north, we’re planning next to nothing beyond a lie-in – if we’re lucky – and a late breakfast.

North and south eh? Just like chalk and cheese. Was it ever any different?

Word has it there’ll just be one proper street party – with potted-meat sarnies, sausage rolls, dinky pork pies and balloons – in all of Cumbria. Only one application for road closure has given the clue that in this county we’re not exactly bursting with enthusiasm for a wedding bash by proxy.

Seeing as the road closure, sausage rolls and sandwich fillings are already organised, I suspect that single community street event might be happening where I live, in Brampton. Not too surprising really – we’ll take any excuse for a sausage roll in Brampton.

It could well be there’ll end up being more nuptial knees-ups in people’s gardens, public parks, on the county’s more sizeable traffic islands and the central reservation of the M6 – but those gigs don’t count.

It’s the community, love-thy-neighbour, lashings of ginger beer kind of shin-dig that finds us lacking. As they (almost) say in the vernacular, we just can’t be... er, bothered.

It would seem that however you choose to look at it, where this royal wedding is concerned, north south divide is alive and kicking.

Southerners can’t wait to set their trestle tables with lace doilies, Pimm’s and smoked salmon on brown. We’re more likely to crack open a six-pack of Stella or pull the cork on a chilled dry white and munch through a family pack of cheese and onion. At home. With the TV off.

Various explanations have been offered for this marked contrast in approach to pomp and romantic spectacle. Pressure group Republic, which wants to replace the Queen with an elected president, reckons northerners are generally politically left of centre and so tend to be less keen on the monarchy.

Streets Alive, which supports community groups, thinks it’s all down to the weather – too chilly by half in the north in April for all-day street affairs.

I’ve a couple of theories of my own. Speaking generally, we northerners aren’t exactly awash with money right now and so long as job security remains a fond memory, retirement a distant dream and repossession a distinct possibility, inclination to shell-out to celebrate the nuptials of the filthy rich and royally privileged, remains a bit thin for a lot of folks.

Secondly, we tend to be realists – even if we’re royalists. It’s fair to say princes and princesses in love don’t have much of a track record in the happy ever after stakes. Excitement over fairytale marriages hasn’t served us too well in the past. Matches made magically in heaven are beginning to look as hardy and relevant as Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage.

So, perhaps there’s more method in our lack of celebratory madness than the average forelock-tugging southerner might credit us with.

Our reserve is reasoned, our thrift enforced, fondness for investing in Mrs Middleton’s happy couple paper plates is nil, deep suspicion of fairytale weddings has been proven by bitter divorces and toe-sucking play-aways.

But on the other hand, don’t assume we too easily turn down the chance for letting our hair down.

We can put away a buffet any day – more than one when an opportunity for blow-out arises.

All northerners love a bit of a do. And rarely do we need an excuse for one.

We certainly don’t need the excuse or permission granted by virtue of William and Kate’s wedding before we can plan pavement jigs with our neighbours – a glass of something refreshing in one hand, sticky pink cake in the other.

Northerners have been unfairly painted as a mealy-mouthed bunch with no appetite for having a good time, no interest in national events and no sense of fun.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We can party-party as well as the next man – be he in Birmingham, Berkshire or Bucks – and do so better than most.

But an instinct for letting off steam isn’t necessarily tied to an ordered instinct for euphoria over a prince’s wedding to his university sweetheart. A big day, surely – but their big day, not ours.

At the drop of a tiara, northern people can prove themselves to be party animals bar none. I’ve yet to meet a Cumbrian who wouldn’t drop everything for a pie, a cake and a bit of crack over a pint of beer – whatever he or she was doing at the time.

We make less of a fuss when we raise a glass because – well, we’d hate to show up those poor southern souls who need a licence, a national event, the permission of crown and Cameron and a pay as you go party plan from the mother of the bride, before they dare crack open the sherry.

Frowning folks with no sense of fun? Dear me, no. You have us all wrong. Be careful not to believe all you read into Local Government Association statistics.

Contrary to all ugly rumours, we’re simply not the kind to poop at parties.

 

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