I have always been proud to be from Liverpool, I was born there, raised a few miles outside and I loved it so much I stayed and went to uni there too.
It always raises a reaction, being from Liverpool. I’ve introduced myself in many countries, and in circumstances foreign to my own (a debating competition against kids from Eaton for example) and everyone knows the place I call ‘HOME home’. For the football, for the music, for the brilliant night out they had there once with the chatty cabby that took them home – whether they’ve been or not, they have always heard of it. I know H, who doesn’t hail from somewhere that someone halfway across the world has heard of is a little jealous. Sometimes, from snootier people I’ve met they talk about crime, how Scousers are light handed with other people’s stuff, but it’s not as common, and the stereotypes are, quite frankly, boring and outdated. My answer is always “Go and visit, see for yourself, you’d be surprised”. And the ones that do pleasantly are.
Then there’s Manchester. Living where I’m from, you get the best of both worlds. Only 25 miles from where I grew up, we’d excitedly get on the train to Victoria station and go to shows at the MEN or the Opera House, head to House of Fraser and Selfridges for days out shopping and later, I worked there too. It was my adopted second city, I have family that live there (hello gorgeous nieces) and I have long had a fantasy of returning and calling it home.
Despite the eight years I’ve lived away, I am passionately, deeply, still northern. I have it in my bones. I’ll be on a packed London tube when I hear a scouse accent and my head will swing up, looking for my fellow northern comrade in the Big Smoke. The same happens in work meetings with clients and other agencies, I always feel more at ease if I’ve found a fellow northerner in the room. I live in a friendly city now (Brighton, not London) but I miss the type of friendliness you get back home, where people don’t just talk to you, they give you their time. They think nothing of popping over to help you start your car, check in on how your dad is after an operation, offer to take you to the airport at 3am – people really look after each other. A friend in London once came home to find her house had been ransacked, and she called me to come and help. When I got there she told me she knocked and told her neighbour and, in tears, she asked if she could come in as she was scared. The neighbour asked her what she thought they could do to help and then shut the door. My mate had to explain that exchange to me a couple of times as it was so alien that someone wouldn’t help.
This isn’t a southern-bashing post, it’s just a northern-loving one. I have loved my time down south and I have a lot of love for London and Brighton, but I think being from Liverpool, or Manchester, or generally from the North of England gives you a certain passion, a spirit, and, in most cases, a deep love for HOME home, and the people in it. The longer I live away, the more I fear I’ll lose that somehow. My accent has faded, so will my scouse spirit, my ‘inner northern-ness’ fade with it? The past six days have reminded me that no, that will never happen.
What happened this week, being so close to the home I hold in my heart affected me in a way I didn’t see coming. A brilliant city in so much pain. I have never felt as far from home as I did this week. Every picture on the news was so familiar, I worked on St Ann’s Square where the tributes lie, and I have stood in that very foyer in the MEN buying band t-shirts so many times as an excited teenager. But if you try to look for the good in amongst the devastation, you didn’t have to look too far in that little patch of the North West this week. Armed officers blowing kisses to people offering free hugs, food donated to nurses, doctors and support staff working 24 hour shifts, not to mention those that ran into the MEN to help when it happened – we’ve all seen the stories.
I still struggle with where I call home, and I miss the North West every single day (and the special people in it) but this week I felt so much pride. Pride at how a city, and a region, came together. Proud that those chatty cabbies sped along the M62 to help however they could, proud that people carried on, and this weekend will sing at concerts and run races.
I want to cover my house in bees. It’s already covered in pictures of Liverpool, and it’s been nice to see so many shops on Etsy offering their Manchester wares with profits going to the appeal (which I donated to – the page is here).
If you haven’t been to Liverpool or to Manchester at all, or maybe you haven’t been for a while, please go. They’re both amazing places to be and I know I’m fortunate to have them running through my blood, wherever I roam. They’re evolving, growing and changing all the time – new exciting restaurants, more independent coffee shops than you can shake a stick at, you name it, one of these cities will have it (or both will, and they’ll tell you, in jest, that theirs is better than the other). They’re 100% rivals for any other city in the UK, London included (not that they care, they’re in their own lane). I was proud to be a northerner a week ago, and I’m even prouder today.
It never leaves you, being northern. No matter where you reside.