I was recently reminded that there's always been a bit of North-South divide in this country. That's probably an understatement. There's been a massive North-South divide. Probably more so in the past, but old habits die hard and get passed from generation to generation. Those in the North think we have it easy in the South and in London, in particular. They think we are privileged, are rolling in banknotes and Rolls Royces. Nothing could be further from the truth. Southerners have a traditional stereo-typed image of Northerners living in back to back housing, working down a mine, wearing cloth caps and keeping homing pigeons. My experience of holidays or business trips around the country are nothing like that. These prejudices are so last century.
If anything, I've long thought that the lucky ones are the ones who live far away from London. The further the better. If both Northerner and Southerner have similar professions, say civil servant or teacher, then the Northerner comes off far better. The salary difference nationally is barely noticeable (the addition of London Weighting is a joke as it by no means accounts for the difference in exorbitant housing or travel costs). Therefore a Southerner's wages will be eaten up by astronomical mortgages, high travel costs to work, leaving little for anything else. Food and heating will obviously consume what's left. So the Southerner will have to save or dig deep for "luxuries" like furnishing the home, holidays, the occasional celebration or a car. A one-bedroom flat can currently set you back a minimum of £350,000 in London, much more if in a swanky area. That money would buy you a lovely house with a garden in the North, probably several houses in some areas, even a small castle in Scotland. If you are rich, property in London is affordable, but for the majority of the population such as hardworking office or shopworkers it is out of reach. I have observed many a time how relatives or friends living up north have a far better standard of living than down here in London. We scrimp and save to have far less. Kay's friends in the North are buying purpose-built houses with gardens. She can barely afford a one-bedroom flat in a run-down area - on a junior doctor's salary.
So much is the North-South divide ingrained in some that it spills into hatred. Kay had a terrible time at uni, when she was bullied (and I use that word advisedly) by a flatshare girl from Liverpool who saw it as her life's mission to make Kay's life hell and not only that persuaded others by intimidating them to do the same. Why? Because Kay came from the South and was therefore fair game. There was no let-up in sympathy even when Kay's father died, in fact the bullying seemed to get worse. It nearly broke Kay, but I am pleased to say she eventually rose above it and became the better person, but it took years to get over it. I've seen this North-South resentment time and time again and it sickens me that in this day and age people are so prejudiced. We are all human beings and can't help where we are born and tend to live. I wonder whether other countries have the same sort of prejudices towards their more affluent capitals or regions or is it just a British thing?