Sunday, February 25, 2007

Straight to the point

Sometimes it is as much fun getting directions as it is getting somewhere. My directions today went something like:
"Turn off the A1" (The A1 is like God up here - it's a given and you cannot avoid it.)
"Go past the church on the left" (There are lots of churches here. Everyone believes in God and the A1 - they have got to celebrate that fact somewhere.)
"Don't take the turning on the right" (Of course I do, I always do what someone tells me I shouldn't.)
"Take the next turning." (Why wait? Is my philosophy.)
"It's signed." (This may or may not be true. Probably not.)
"Go over the cattle grid." (Cattle grid? Who gets to their house over a cattle grid? Lots of people up here let me tell you. In fact, you're no one if you don't have a cattle grid. I am building one into the new kitchen.)
"Go up the track for a few miles."(This is generally the point you think you are driving to Scotland and will have to spend the night in the car with the three children. Needless to say, there is no mobile signal to ring for an emergency rescue.)
"We're the only farm up there."(Which is when you think: "Thank God. Civilisation".)

Today's expedition for lunch - having inveigled myself some company so transparently yesterday - also involved passing a sign saying "Horse-drawn vehicles and animals" at the second cattle-grid on the track. We had already passed the "Beware the bull" sign which always makes me feel acutely nervous in case he is waiting round the corner with a mask and a pistol. I could see the Cheviots stretched out in the distance; the beasted fields slipping away from their Gorse borders. "Where are we mummy?" asked my six-year-old. "About 1956." I told him.

38 comments:

Cringe said...

Where I used to live, Granada filmed a 'Sooty' episode called 'In the Middle of Nowhere'.

I'm 31 now, but went to the well for water till 1982 for my Gran.

Steve Schewe said...

1956 would be about right. I'm visiting my family in Howard County, Missouri, where the newspapers are weekly, the cell phone service is non-existent, and the important news (the weather and the obituaries) is announced by radio. It's blowing a gale here today, and the low bridges in and out of the county are close to flooding from yesterday's rain. Fortunately, the company is all coming to us today, but they won't have to cross a cattle guard -- unless they're going towards the pasture!

Anonymous said...

Nope,
Looked at all your blog selection and none are as good as yours.

Mx

Anonymous said...

Patronising, rude, condescending twaddle. First having a go at the religious, because no doubt you are 'cleverer than that'. Despite not having any religion myself I hope that I am not stupid enough to think that is because I am more intelligent than people who do. Who do you think you are ? Jackie Ashley ?

'1956' - crap. It has taken me 40 years to realise that the people who I grew up with in the countryside are as intelligent, wise, cultured and stylish as the ones on the city - they just show it rather differently. Let us for your sake hope you catch on rather more quickly.

Anonymous said...

'there is no mobile signal...'.

Much of Bath has no 'mobile signal' because of all the stone, and it is built on several hills. Watch out for these big red boxes - they are called 'phone boxes'...

Your attempt to convince us that the countryside has absolutely no mod cons and a pre-historic wasteland is about as facile as my parents attempt to convince me that children in town didn't know milk came from cows, or that there were adults in Birmingham that had never seen the sea.

You have been doing very well in your blog, but you need to move away from this two - dimensional caricature of the countryside and its people so beloved of 'Archers' listeners. You could do a lot worse than read Laurie Lee to get his take on whether town types really were so superior to those living in the countryside. It might come as a bit of a shock..

The Grocer said...

1956 eh, you would have been glad of the clean air as London was still suffering from pea soup style smog.
God came twice to the North East, performed one miracle and another near miracle before moving on to bigger things, oh and he had a curly perm in 1974.

Newmania said...

Wow you do live !Sounds a bit Woman in Black, to me ..I `m hoping for some vagely oppressive and possibly inbred rustic tyes and a narow squeak or two before you escape to freedom.Perhaps you will be forced to sleep in a four poster bed that hasn`t been slept in since that terrible day...

Calamity Jane said...

Lions and tigers and bears! Could one suggest a good OS map, a compass, some sturdy boots, Kendal Mint cake and a warm blanket just to cover all eventualties ...

Anonymous said...

Are you trying to piss people off? I hope you aren't expecting to sell many copies of your book in the North. People are unlikely to want to pay to be patronised and insulted.

mutleythedog said...

At least the man with a Bull put up a sign and if you make it over the cattle grid the horrid creature can't follow! Personally, I find it hard to walk in a straight line if I don't have a wall to follow - but I insist on taking country walks - how silly am I? Thanks for your kind remarks the other day, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Do the people who kindly invited you and your brood to lunch know you think they live in 1956?

Dunno about cattle grids - perhaps we should invest in some anti-southerner grids...

rilly super said...

1956 you say? gosh! you rilly do have it bad there. At least here in Yorkshire they've reached the sixties, which is rilly good because when ITV film Heartbeat they don't need to change anything. But to be fair, there are parts of Wensleydale where they are still in the second world war and in fact in a wood near Hawes there is an entire japanese regiment, the 7th Nagashima Rifles, which refuses to believe the war is over and has been putting captured ramblers to work on a railway on which they plan to invade the Star of India Takeaway and liberate Mr Khan the manager from colonial rule. It rilly is grim up here in the north!

patcher said...

Been reading your blog over the last few days and I recognise many of your feelings. I moved up to Lincolnshire just over a year ago from East London, also at the instigation of my husband who needed more outdoor space, vegetable patch and all that. For the first few months I was off work having my second baby and I must say that I found that incredibly hard. All the same feelings of loneliness and monotony - although the baby and my older child are of course lovely. Now though I am back at work which takes me back to London, around the country and also quite a lot at home which is great. I try not to work Fridays and do sometimes have great weekends doing outdoor family stuff and going to the beach. I don't think I could do it without the balance of work though and the reasonably regular (every few weeks) trips to London. I still haven't met any friends locally and I know I would hate weekends on my own. It sounds like you've met friends nearby - how did you do it? I can't seem to find anyone who (a) I have anything in common with apart from children and geography (b) doesn't resent/ disapprove of the fact that I work and (c)wants to meet someone new...

Keep up the good work and treat yourself to the odd trip to London to see your friends - in my experience it can be very sustaining!

Popeye said...

Dear WITN,

Is there something wrong with me?

Only I was neither patronised nor insulted by 'straight to the point', just amused and entertained. I'm even looking forward to your book.

Help.

kinglear said...

Hmm - strikes me you were not in the girl guides or at a good school. Such visicitudes would be like water off a duck's back to the likes of the Famous Five.

tim relf said...

You’ve just reminded me of an old (rather corny) joke.

A man is crossing a field when he sees a mean-looking bull not far away from him. Thirty yards away, leaning comfortably on the other side of the fence, is a farmer watching what's happening. The man yells: “Is that bull safe!”
To which the farmer shouts back: "Safe as anything… Can't say the same about you, though!"

Sorry! Told you it was corny...

wife in the north said...

re anon 1: I have to say it really helps to have a sense of humour when you read this blog. You don't have to, obviously; I am just making the point, it helps.
re anon 2: milk comes from cows? You're kidding.

Anonymous said...

You might think we are stupid and have no sense of humour...

WE might think you're stupid and spoiled.

Have you seen The Wickerman?

Newmania said...

People are unlikely to want to pay to be patronised and insulted.


Oh dear anon you poor poor naieve person.....

ooo coming Miss Whip I `m sorry I tarried ..( scampers happily off)

jtschida said...

Gee, folks, lighten up! WITN's self-effacing musings deal with her sense of disconnection from the North's culture, and not about the value of that culture itself. She mocks herself, not you. So learn to read her that way.

I never cease to wonder at the willingness of people to go out of their way to read something they know they will disagree with, and then take violent offense at what they've just read...

In the Yank venacular: You go, girl!

Newmania said...

Why are anons always so dull .Is it a law?

Eurodog said...

Hello,
I have added you to my favoutites. I have started a blog and am discovering a new world and you have become part of that world.
Please visit:
http://eurodogtraining.blogspot.com
Your decriptions of the North of England remind me of Cornwall.

Jeremy said...

Oh Wife of the North,

Your blog is simply delicious. I am also excited to learn you have a book deal. You seem so lonely. I just want to reach through the internet and give you a big hug. By the way, I'm going to get a cattle guard right away

Thanks

Anonymous said...

IT'S A CATTLE GRID!!!

Silly Mummy said...

I truly relate to your life as described in your blog. I grew up in the country but have lived in several cities (including London) since I was 18. I recently moved to a 'semi-rural' commuterville from London and am still trying to get into the swing of this two-tier community with it's plethora of 'weekend wives' and families. I visit London regularly and despite enjoying it, have no real desire to live there again. My husband commutes every day and will have to for the forseeable future. Despite the fact he's not away all week or anything, I do sometimes feel incredibly isolated and detached from everyone. I'd forgotten just how long it can take to fully integrate into a community in a rural area. That's not to say they are unfriendly, just that they all have far greater 'history' than one can ever achieve.
Anyway, thanks for your blog. I am inspired to write my own -er, it is pants in comparison to yours and I envy your written style - being a product of a Thatcherite education, I is rubbish at grammar!
I wish you every success. x

Anonymous said...

Dear Newmania,

Insurance? And you call us dull!

Suzie said...

It seems bizarre to me, that people who are so offended by your blog, continue to read it so regularly! No doubt our anonymous friend WILL read your book, just so that he or she will be able to fill his or her time with writing scathing reviews of it. Don't be disheartened by peole who can't see the beauty of your writing - I think it's inspiring.
How is it that your husband is the one who dragged you up to the north, and yet you seem to spend so much time having to deal with it on your own? My father did the same to our family when I was young - moved the whole family up north then spent most of his time working in London. My mother, my siblings and I got used to it eventually as I'm sure you know you will. Having said that, ten years on, my mother still dreams of going back.
I think your husband should spend some time showing you what it was that made him fall in love with the area. Just a thought.
Look forward to your book very much.

Anonymous said...

Hi.. I came across your blog from the Sunday paper, a colleague of mine was in London and gave me a copy of English paper !!..Keep writing, I really enjoy reading your blog. Intro., I am Asian living in Germany for last 6 years with two boys, working full but still feel lonely and challenged..you make me laugh !! Thanks and God bless

debio said...

Just been introduced to your blog by my best friend in UK - as an ex-pat living in the desert I sympathise entirely with the culture shock with which you are dealing. Unlike you, everyone, but everyone, lives on their cellphone here but, just like you, getting lost is a daily experience as nowhere has an official address. I, too, as a wife and mother, have taken the longest to adapt and enjoy!!

Eileen said...

I thought '1956' was just so witty! And what was wrong with 1956 anyway? It's not an insult! Still love your blog - its the only one I read - am a little bereft that there is nothing since sunday - hope all is well up there!

Rare Breed said...

I did it, I really did I LOL'd.

That is I Laughed out Loud, this is so funny.

oooooo anon - who crawled into your humourless knickers and nipped your remaining SOH into touch? I live in very rural Northumberland, and hang on, wait for it - I have a degree - oooo best keep that quiet though in case townies feel threatened. Silly anon - not one word of wifey's daily life is patronising, rude or condescending in my opinion.

'Tis true mobiles only ever work when perched on one leg hanging out of skylight on a clear night, with no rain or wind.

And finally anon - 1956 - well I can look out of my window or any of my windows and be proud to say that the view has remained exactly the same since 1956 [well I wasn't born in 1956 but rumour has it ...], and in fact probably the last 200 years or more.

Anonymous said...

Couple of ideas.

1/ In view of the comments over the last couple of days, why not apply your wise and witty approach to telling us some of the nice things about the kith and kin 'oop north'.

2/ Could you not persuade 'hubby' to do a 'guest blog' session on how he's been getting on. We haven't heard much about his adventures recently.

Ellee said...

No way is Newmania dull.

Ellee said...

How can anyone who recites Andrew Marvell's poetry possibly be dull?

Jeremy said...

Actually they call them cattle guards here in America and that's why I use the term. Why don't you grow some balls and stop posting anonymously. Sorry Mrs. North for using such language on such a great blog.

Newmania said...

Thanks Ellee ..although I am quite dull.

Boo HOO

Mr Zip said...

The problem with Anonymice posting is that you can't tell how many of them there are. I thought only one for a while, then one of them turned out to be Asian, so that's at least two. You can prevent anonymous posts, of course, but that might spoil the fun.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, you seem to have attracted some very rancorous people to your site recently. Please don't listen to them. I'm from the country and love your blog. Hopefully, your detractors will learn to develop a sense of humour some time soon.