It’s ten years since my story The North Is So Much Better For Youngsters Today was published in the late lamented Transmission magazine issue #04. Illustrated wonderfully by Zara Pickens, it was a response to overhearing someone in the south of England say they’d invested in several properties in the north. ‘Didn’t they know what was going on up there?’ I asked myself back then. Clearly they didn’t.
So I thought it would be fun to reel off my inexplicable northern neurosis for my own entertainment at least. I’m sure people thought I was mad, but it’s always best to express one’s self, and ten years on, I see the story touched on the rise of far right nationalism, and the sense of alienation felt by industrialised people living in a part of the world that was once the centre of Britain’s proud industrial legacy, well represented by strong unions, and contributing significantly to Britain’s wealth and its defence.
A neurosis is “a strong sense of distress but without delusions and hallucinations”. It’s how it must feel to walk off a cliff without actually doing it every day. One thing that sticks in the mind of lucky sufferers is: ‘get the fuck out’, whereas those unlucky enough to be ‘industrialised’ by the process have an irreversible sense that they’re trapped with low self esteem. So it was with a great sense of good fortune, almost exuberance, that I was able to write this down because by 2006, in Britain’s former manufacturing areas where I once lived, the unions were a spent force, industry had gone, and misguided property developers, as well as the far right, saw an opportunity. Something was in the air, and obviously I didn’t like it, and while it seems that northerners like me whinge about nothing, 13 million manufacturing jobs were lost in the 1980s at a rate of 1000s per week, an unprecedented speed and scale of decline across many vast conurbations.
I don’t agree with a lot of things in the video. It is national-socialism to be against the free movement of Labour. It can get a lot worse for Doncaster after Brexit, and Greece was subjected to austerity measures by the Troika of three international banks, not just the EU, but other than that you get the drift that in having the chance to cause trouble, people who’ve been treated badly will inevitably cause trouble, especially when the Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, made immigration the central topic of the damned EU referendum. Consequently, there is no way the result of the Referendum meaning Britain will leave the EU (or Brexit), will help industrialised people, as chancellor Osborne has warned. A punishment budget looms, and Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader, is probably being stalked by a turkey with a meat cleaver right now.
With the demise of Transmission magazine, I submitted my story to ABCTales where it was cherry-picked. With the Brexit result, I thought it was time to remind myself that my story was more than just a trawl through my personal neurosis, it was a warning from the north from one who lived in it.