Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Norf v. Sarf

Here in London, there is a distinct division between "North" and "South" of the river Thames (or "Norf" and "Sarf" in pure cockney) - a snobbish kind of rivalry exists between the two, not dissimilar to the Syndey/Melbourne divide. In these terms, North London is probably more similar to Melbourne in that us Northerners consider ourselves a bit more cultured, more bohemian, more real, innit, and just a tad less try-hard than those "down there". They have Richmond Park; we have Hampstead Heath. They have Clapham Common; we have Highgate Cemetary. They have pubs overspilling with noisy, drunken Aussies; we have poetic winos on the park benches.

The full extent of this divide was brought home to me the other night, when I was leaving work after 9pm, which meant: 1. Free Dinner; and 2. Free Black Cab Home (one of many perks, including: 3. Paid Overtime, unheard of in the Melbourne design world). So I was standing in the queue, behind an obviously "South London" girl (groomed, pushy, obnoxiously trendy). The first cabbie to pull up wouldn't take her, as she was going South and he was heading home up North. So she pushed her way ahead of me as I was heading towards the second cab, waving her highly manicured fingers frantically and affecting an attitude of "if I don't make eye contact, she doesn't exist" towards me.

But the cabbie had already made the snap judgement that she was a Clapham Try-Hard, and I, with my unkempt hair and scuffed, flat shoes, was a North London Person of Artistic Integrity - and he gave priority to me! Brilliant! And all the way home, he spun me tales of how much he hates "those pushy Clapham types", who "wish they lived in Kensington" and how he tries to screw them over wherever possible, just because it gives him a thrill.

I am not sure where his unearthly hatred of all things southern came from, but I was too grateful for the lift home to do anything but agree with him.

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