“You are who you choose to be”. I was thinking of a good way to start this post, and that quote came to mind. Curious as to where I’d heard it before, I did a quickly google search and was directed to Warner Bros’ The Iron Giant. Why has that suddenly come to mind? I haven’t a clue; I haven’t watched that film in years. In fact, the only time I’ve thought about it in 2014 is when I discovered Vin Diesel was the titular Iron Giant. Vin Diesel! Did you know that? I didn’t. It’s weird.
But back to the matter at hand. Since returning to Wales two weeks ago at the start of my holiday, I’ve been thinking about how this country as a topic would make an interesting piece. I subsequently forgot about that, as I was distracted by other obligations. But whilst meeting up with old friends or even just lounging about at home, I’ve come to realise recently that having left the country for university, I appreciate it much more than I used to.
I remember around this time nine years ago, when my time at primary school was coming to an end, and we were preparing to leave for North Wales. It was quite a change, and one that I was not looking forward to. Of course, as anyone who’s moved house knows, any place takes some time to adjust to, but this one for me just wouldn’t stick. Sure, I appreciated the new friends that came with my new home, but the countryside of Wales just didn’t compare to the streets of London. There was nothing for miles around except endless fields and sheep. The weather was kind of suck-y, and everywhere smelt of excrement. I wanted to go back to the concrete jungle that I had known for so long; I had no time for this new setting.
The years went by, and my view remained the same. I don’t think it really helped that a lot of my friends were also English, and thus shared a similar view of their adoptive nation. But as with all things, as I grew older, I gained a new perspective about the whole situation. Don’t get me wrong, it took quite a while longer, and my initial reasoning for warming to Wales was probably not the best.
You see, one of the reasons I started to warm to Wales was a twisted sense of patriotism. As I begun to encounter more and more residents of England, their constant bad-mouthing of my newer home began to offend me. And not in the average, “Oh, he just called me a ‘sheep shagger” sort of way, but more the ignorance they showed that naturally comes with youth. I’ll admit to being guilty of the same ignorance, but in this instance, it was my home they were insulting, even if I had long been doing the same thing until that point.
In a way, the petty English/Wales culture clash is not unlike the North/South British divide. This was highlighted to me by a couple of articles I saw on Facebook. You may have seen them too.
‘Why Southerners are better than Northerners‘ and ‘Why Northerners are better than Southerners‘.
Now, despite the fact I think the whole debate is ridiculous, I enjoy these sorts of things because some of the reasons on those sites are kind of funny; especially the song about hipsters. However, they also made me realise that a lot of the points Northerners make are just self promoting, whereas the points for the south are primarily aimed at putting the north down. That then lead me to realise that the same can be said when you see Northerners and Southerners arguing in real life. The Northerners are much more down-to-earth, and are proud of who they are, whereas the Southerners seem to feel the need to put everyone else down.
In a sense, I’m sort of doing that exact thing right now, but I’m going to blame it on being from London. But at the same time, I like to think I can give this overview because I’ve lived in both places, as I find a lot of the stuff to do with the North can be associated with the part of Wales I live in.
Although I’m not properly welsh, I’m proud of my new home, perhaps more so than my university home of Leicester, and definitely more so than London. People rave that London is the ‘best place in the world’ (which I really hope doesn’t turn out to be true, otherwise going abroad in future’s going to be very disappointing), but for the most part, the ones I’ve met can only say that because they have such an unnecessarily low opinion of everywhere else.
Of course, I’m not trying to reveal a deep dislike of Southerners; I’ve got friends and family down South. I’m not even trying to say that the countryside is better than the city. There are lots of different ways to look at what I’ve said, but my main point is that people need to be a little more open-minded when it comes to judging others and their homes. After all, this is Britain, the weather sucks everywhere, even down south; pretty much all the countryside kind of smells, its a fact of life; and being surrounded by fields, sheep and mountains means there are more opportunities to enjoy more outdoors-y fun.
Also, controversial as it may seem, in my opinion pasties from Cornwall are not all that, in fact, I had one a while ago and it put me off Cornish Pasties almost all together. But that was probably just a bad choice of bakery on my part. Rant over (Although I realise I sort of went quite off-track again. Part 2, anyone?).