Friday, 25 July 2008

Pseudo-literary metro-harpies: makes me feel a bit 'Plaid Cymru'

I'm feeling het-up today, as the feature below might explain. It's boiling hot, I've got lots of fiddly editing to do, and I would rather be anywhere but in a computer room with the atmosphere of a thermometer in Pompeii.

Anyway, what's sticking in my craw right now is this. Wife in the North. Yes, that's right. The address is for the blog but this entirely charmless project first came to my attention in Newcastle Waterstones a few weeks ago. I'd like to think that after I exited with a copy of Peter Gay's Modernism - The Lure of Heresy a mob of affronted Geordies descended on the place, removed all copies of this piece of vapid, Londoncentric shit and burned them under Charles Grey's austere gaze. Sorry Mum, sorry Dad, sorry friends: I'm swearing again, but...but how do I not? Right, as far as I can ascertain from Wife in the North's blog, her schtick is this:

1 - Being a 'Yummy Mummy'. Note to Haribo: could this be a new range aimed at Oedipal sweet-tooths?

2 - Being alone and afraid because the North is full of mass-murdering lorry drivers, mummies who aren't particularly yummy and compulsively smoke L&B, various clones of Michael from Alan Partidge and Peter Beardsley.

3 - Missing the bright cultural lights of London, a city whose entertainment claims to fame include avant-garde masterpieces such as Cats and The Mousetrap.

4 - Missing the sophisticated humour of the London middle classes, which - as I'm coming to understand it - generally involves making snotty jokes about writers who have never dined at Nigella Lawson's house.

5 - Missing the fabulous social opportunities afforded by good ol' London town, a city in which the only remotely useful transportation system shuts down at midnight and is replaced by a bus network apparently planned by Pingu and a fleet of hyperpriced mini cabs.

6 - Treating the locals as picturesque imbeciles to be exploited for their tasty artesan produce.

7 - Acting as if everyone in the north is a racist scumbag, despite her yearning to live in one of those effectively gated north London communities where the only people from ethnic minority backgrounds one ever meets are kept busy selling Oyster cards.

8 - Being unable to accept that rural places evolve at a different pace, and are therefore unlikely to be inundated with vintage clothes and jewellery emporiums any time soon.

9 - Being a complete and utter doyle, all of the time, and having no idea that you are doing so.

You have to question this woman's motives. If she feels so uncomfortable and cast adrift in beautiful, beautiful Northumberland why doesn't she move back to London? Is there any chance for a spiritual redemption, perhaps...maybe she could start drinking at the Free Trade Inn in Newcastle and read the collected poems of Basil Bunting and The Far Corner and go and watch the mellifluously-named Blyth Spartans play football and go to see bands at the Cluny and photo exhibitions at Side and of course the bloody Baltic and concerts at the Sage and comedy at the Live Theatre and walk in Kielder Forest and the Coquet Valley and on the sands at Bamburgh and Lindisfarne and enjoy Geordie humour and marvel at one of the most beautiful pieces of public art in the United Kingdom and even fishing in the Tyne Valley like in that episode of The Likely Lads where Terry interrupts Bob and Thelma's romantic weekend AND EVERY OTHER BLOODY THING YOU COULD DO IN THE NORTH-EAST WHICH IS MORE WONDERFUL AND LESS SOUL-DESTROYING THAN SPENDING ALL NIGHT IN GASTROPUBS ON WANDSWORTH COMMON BITCHING AND SCRATCHING WITH THE REST OF THE CYNICAL HACKS YOU FIND DOWN THERE.

I'm convinced that the London media attitude towards the north is motivated by a complete inability to understand what is, to all intents and purposes, a completely different country. It's all well and good when we're being Ross Noble-like, getting up on stage and being self-deprecating and savantish, but figures like Mark E. Smith are clearly much harder to deal with.

Another thing that has pissed me off recently, by the way, is the manner in which certain middlebrow metropolitan novels (I won't name names, I could get in trouble) have started to incorporate this very, very, very, very, very watered-down version of psychogeography as a quasi-intellectual justification for liking living in Crouch End. Look, twats: from Poe to Baudelaire to Benjamin to Debord to Sinclair, the procurement of jamon iberico and sunblushed tomatoes has never been a central component of urbanist thought. Sod off. The fact that you enjoy walking around cities does not necessarily make you into an expert into the poetics of the metropolis.

Anyway. Phew. Ow.


Ernesto said...

I loved this post.

Joe said...

I had steam coming out of my ears when I wrote it.