Yorkshire vs Lancashire
YORKSHIRE Vs LANCASHIRE
In a cultural fight to claim the birthplace of a county fence sitter…
By Nate Wisniewski
One of the first questions strangers tend to ask each other on their way to becoming acquaintances is usually, ‘where are you from?’ Personally, I always saw myself as a Yorkshireman, although I spent the first seven years of my life living in Manchester. But over the past few years I’ve travelled across Asia and New Zealand and the question, ‘where are you from?’ has received a variety of answers. Eventually, I settled on, ‘near Manchester’. I could have said near York. I could have said near Sheffield or even Leeds. But I didn’t. At first, I assumed that this was because Manchester registers on a global radar more than any Yorkshire cities.
Hold the pitchforks a moment. Firstly, in regards to Leeds, that’s probably the case. Sorry, if you’re from Leeds, but get real. But Sheffield? And York? One of the oldest cities in the world? The former capital of the north? I quickly spotted a little of my Mancunian bias coming into play. Still, it got me thinking. You might remember a little while back how anxious the world became when it was discovered that China would succeed America and become the world’s next global superpower. The world, and the media, panicked. Would we all be using chopsticks and practicing karate while living in tiny houses and only having one child? For some reason, people seemed to forget that being a global superpower doesn’t necessarily mean a country’s cultural influence would spread throughout the rest of the world. Just ask Russia. It might have happened to America, but let’s face it; that was more to do with Hollywood than anything else. No, for China to take over the world in a modern, non-violent context, it would have to make the world want to be Chinese.
But who did I want to be? A Yorkshireman? Or a Lancastrian? I felt like I had enough of a right to claim either one of them as my own. But which culture would I most like to align myself with? It was Yorkshire Vs Lancashire in a battle of cultural relevance. All Henry VII’s hard work had been undone. It was on.
Firstly, as with any good game, I needed some rules. Each section of culture, such as music or film, would become one match. Within each match a cultural achievement would be counted as one goal. A cultural achievement that brought negative attention (such as Michael Barrymore in the game of comedy) would count as an own goal. Each match won, was worth one point. At the end of the cup (it had now become a cup) the winner would be the county with the most points, and my new homeland…
It began with music, as was my wont. The Reds opening the scoring quickly with a wonder goal from The Beatles. I almost stopped the game right there. The Beatles? Surely there was no comeback from that… But Joe Cocker and Def Leppard hit back to give Yorkshire a perhaps undeserved lead. I almost changed the rules to give The Beatles two points but I resisted the urge and carried on. As if in response to this, Lancashire set themselves on fire. The Smiths, Joy Division, New Order and the rest of the Madchester scene got on the score sheet. Even with The Human League, Yorkshire were getting smashed. The Stone Roses and Oasis made matters worse before Pulp scored a cracker, only to go and see Chumbawamba score an own goal and undo all Jarvis’ hard work. The Kaiser Chiefs hit the net for Yorkshire, but I couldn’t for the life in me work out whose net it had gone in, and so I disallowed the goal. Call it offside or handball. I don’t know, I’m not usually a referee. But if you can’t see which net it’s gone in, something’s wrong. After that debacle, Arctic Monkeys and a flourish of Sheffield bands made sure it was a close finish, but it ended with the points going to the reds.
The next game was film, to be followed by TV, art, comedy and fashion. But as I started, something hit me. It was easy to make lists of famous Yorkshire people. I could have looked into the history of the chair, and I’m confident I would have found a list of Yorkshire chair-makers and their various reclining achievements. Whatever I looked into, there was a list of Yorkshire people who had been involved somewhere nearby. People had put time and effort into finding out Yorkshire’s finest, in every chosen field. And what’s more, there seemed to be a market for it. Comments, feedback, list additions. We loved it. I was discovering a not-so-hidden world, a county-collective identity. It was pride in Yorkshire. Surprisingly, this was noticeably absent from the team in red. Sure, there were lists of Mancunian’s and Liverpudlians, Prestonian’s and Blackpudlians but where was the county-collective? I couldn’t find one. And now that I think about it, I’d never seen one. Go to Manchester, Liverpool or any of the great Lancastrian cities. They work in a different way over there. They take their sense of identity from their city, not their county. A Mancunian never talks about being a Lancastrian, unless they’re talking to a Yorkshireman. You could argue that their more renowned cities mean they care less about the overall county. But that’s a contentious issue in itself, and even then, what about the smaller towns?
Where is their pride in Lancashire? I couldn’t find it. I guess it’s just another one of those little cultural differences that separate us from our Lancastrian brothers. I too, separate here, in a fundamental way. I am not Lancastrian, nor will I ever be. I am a Yorkshireman. From Manchester.