Frying times

I took this picture in Ulverston because it sums up something that I'm interested in but can't quite describe. A sort of localness. What I love about Britain is that places can be so close together but so different, and that there's an interesting mix of commonness and localness (these aren't the right words but I can't think of a good alternative). In this case it's mealtimes. We all eat meals, right? But in the north (and north is a movable feast) the words are familiar but they mean different things. And it sounds trivial but it's really, really important because these differences sum up who you are.

I won't embarrass myself by trying to explain the difference between dinner and tea (feel free to interject) but in Cumbria, lunch (or is it dinner?) starts very early. When we went to the Laurel & Hardy Museum the owner was nipping out for fish and chips at 11am. As Scots are always lambasted for having the worst diet in Europe this was comforting. I felt commonness in fried food and localness in timing. And I wondered what the impact of this is on the rest of the day. Is it a sort of breakfast like a king/dine like a pauper sort of thing, or is it chips again for tea (or dinner depending on your location)?

Lately, there have been more things about distinctiveness + geography like Coast and Comedy Map of Great Britain or the Culture Show's alternative plaques. It runs through Nothing To See Here. And as the web is very good for supporting specialisation it's a seam of interestingness worth mining. In this vein I've just finished reading Pies and Prejudice: in search of the north by Stuart Maconie - a sort of overview of localness in the north of England. It tries to define where "the north" is for a start (ironically south from here) and delves into the various parts investigating their rivalries and differences. It's a fascinating, entertaining read, and I wish there was an equivalent for the rest of the country. This Guardian review seems to prove Maconie's point (he's a Lancastrian) that Yorkshiremen are pretty humourless.

Glad you gave Maconie's book the thumbs up as I was considering giving it a miss after some lukewarm reviews (that'll teach me to give reviews any kind of importance eh). The commonness and localness discussion is an interesting one although one that I fear will rapidly disappear as any kind of localness is driven out by Tesco et al. My partner always despairs of me whenever we go anywhere as I always try and buy as many local papers as are available because I love to find out the many things that connect and (perhaps more pleasingly to the tourist) the many things that differ.

The sign reminds me of my younger days when I did some work experience at a record label in London for a couple of weeks - being a country boy my hours didn't exactly replicate the sun rising and setting but there was always a sense of that whereas in my temporary home in the capital I was bemused that "lunch" was usually take at 3pm - a time when the good people of Ulverston are taking their siesta.

Simon James x

He writes the same way as he talks, so provided you can tune into that it's really good. Having been to a lot of the places it seemed very accurate. It reminded me of Bill Bryson overall. He does get up people's noses though.

Also, I think localness is thriving. There are a lot of things and a lot of places that Tesco isn't interested in, and others that aren't interested in Tesco. It seems hopeful.

Anne you're right I think in many ways localness is thriving (although sometimes it's easy to miss peoples efforts) - evidently I was feeling a bit narky earlier and Tesco always upsets me - their recent attempt to ride roughshod all over Bournville made me crazy mad (odd really because I like a drink from time to time).

Simon James x

Yorkshiremen pretty humourless? You just need to remember that a Yorkshireman is a Scotsman minus the generosity.

When does everyone else eat their meals?

Typically I have:

Breakfast at 8AM
Dinner at 12:30PM
Tea at 8PM (I finish work fairly late)

Simon James - you didn't sound narky. I know what you mean.

David - that's fighting talk! It was Stuart Maconie that slagged Yorskhiremen off, so bitch about Lancastrians not the Scots. Where are you from, btw?

Rich - I have breakfast around 7-7.30, lunch around 1 and tea/dinner at 6ish. There's a lunch/tea/dinner trichotomy going on. There's an awful big gap between your dinner and your tea. Aren't you starving by 8?

Blimey, in our house we have me having my supper, the missus having her dinner, cos she's a posh sutherner, and the children having their tea. I went to a book shop, which incidently is a poor excuse for a record shop, to get that Coast book on Sunday and was hooked by the Stuart Maconie book. To be fair to Yorkshire, actually, who wants to be fair to Yorkshire. Don't they all have piss stains in their pants? Leeds has a quite extrodinarily large number of blokes whipping their member out and having a piss on the pedestrian precint every Friday night. Saturday nights however are special. Everyone knows that.

I am intrigued and baffled by the Lancs v Yorks debate. It sounds similar to the general Glasgow v Edinburgh mudslinging that goes on. I've only met one Yorkshireman who is very nice, so am having trouble recognising the stereotype. I know lots of great Lancastrians though.

I'm from Peterborough and I'm down with davidthedesigner.

But now I inhabit media land, if I use those terms everyone looks at me funny.

So now dinner is lunch and tea is dinner.

Second breakfast anyone?

Yorkshire humour is subtle and dry - and often directed at ourselves. Alan Bennett's founded his entire career on it.

Another great book about the North is 'All Points North' by the poet Simon Armitage.

I'll second Gareth's mention of 'All Points North' it's a great book which this is from :

News Just In

A man from Halifax has failed in his attempt to earn a place in the Guinness Book of Records. After spending a month living in a tree in a friend's garden, he came down to earth only to find that the world record was not twenty-six days, as he had been told, but twenty-six years. The record was set by a man in Indonesia , who climbed a palm tree in the early seventies, and still hasn't come down.

Interviewed by the Yorkshire Post, Mr Chris Lee, 'I feel a right prat.' The attempt was made in a two-hundred-and-fifty-year-old sycamore at an altitude of forty feet. Mr Lee hoisted up food in a bucket, slept in a sleeping bag wedged between branches, and took with him a supply of books to read, including the Yellow Pages.

Simon James x

We follow the typical Midland's breakfast, dinner, tea formulation. And then, when I was a kid would have supper (crisps and hot chocolate) just before bed.

We used to let our son, Arthur do this but tried to introduce grapes instead of crisps.

So he invented another meal - sup-pud. Which means having a mini-roll or cake just before bed.

And so the language evolves.

And this might shed some more light:

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