As anyone who has ever watched or read Game of Thrones knows, The North is a place well worth controlling. I’m not really sure what makes it so important in Westeros - Easier women? More relaxed laws on drinking? Nicer scenery? It could be anything, so I won’t go into too much detail about the fictional north. Instead I’ll talk about the actual north, one where the accents are thicker, the air is cleaner, and the rent is hilariously affordable compared to places below the Midlands.
If you haven’t seen it, take a look at Holly’s Kent argument right here. And if you have seen it, or simply don’t care for the opinions of a southern softy, carry on to read what The North has to offer that London simply can’t.
When I was a young, optimistic advertising student (which was a worryingly long time ago now) it was always put into my head that London was the only place I could achieve anything. As someone who was born and raised in northern-ish territories, it seemed shiny and big, so when the opportunity came for me to go there I jumped at it. When I got there I realised that it was shiny and big, but it was also a fucking rip off and made you want to pull your soul out and throw it underneath a train. After a little while I left, so the following comes from a position of bitter knowledge and painful memories. Fun!
1. It’s harder to get in anywhere in The North.
Weird pro, that, but it makes sense when you think about it. Trust me. There are literally hundreds of creative agencies in London, so if you’ve got enough about you eventually you’ll get your foot in a door. Once your foot’s in, it’s easy enough to force it open.
In The North you’ve got fewer options. There’s a smaller pool of agencies to choose from, less people you can shmooze up to and the doors are made from a better quality of wood, making them much harder to open. It feels much better when you’ve proved you can do it.
2. You can afford to live here.
I rent a one bedroom apartment with a large open plan living room, spacious bathroom and enough room to entertain. It’s in an up and coming part of Sheffield, right near the city centre and surrounded by some of the finest pubs you’re likely to find. It’s also got its own coffee shop.
In a few years I’ll be able to buy somewhere.
For the same price in London I’d be able to afford, well, nothing. I’ve just looked and, apart from a few very dodgy looking bedsits with no living room, a shared bathroom and a neighbourhood that looks like it wants to kill me, I’m not exactly spoilt for choice.
The chances of ever buying in London? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
3. Better ale.
For £15 in London I bought two drinks. One was a standard brand of lager, the other a standard brand of cider. That was the night over, as that £15 was already more than I had to spare.
For £15 in The North I can have a night out, drinking proper ale that’s far stronger than any southerner could stomach. If that £15 ran out, I could afford to go to a cash machine and take out more money. Have I mentioned how cheap the rent is here?
4. Fewer dickheads.
We speak to each other on public transport here. Cyclists stop for red lights. Bus drivers never get out and punch anyone. It’s nice, I’d recommend it.
5. Fewer dickhead friends.
The day I moved to London I suddenly found a lot of people who I’d never spoken to before wanted to be my best friend. Facebook was alight with strangers saying how pleased they were for me, before eventually getting to the point and asking if they could come and stay some time. After a few weeks of living there they’d want to come and stay, but also come to see me at work and ask if I knew anyone who might be up for looking at their portfolio. After a couple of months living there, they weren’t coming up to see me at all. I was purely a landlord that wouldn’t charge them rent.
Less people want to visit me in Sheffield. I know the ones that do are here to see me… and maybe to drink some of the really very good ale.
6. And finally… You can be someone here.
Everyone in London wants to be someone. A lot of people in London already think they are. But you know, there’s a shit load of people down there who all have the exact same dreams as you. Unless you’re amazingly talented, extremely lucky, or just happen to sleep with the right people, you can easily get lost in the crowd.
Up north there are still ambitions, but yours won’t be trampled on by everyone else. It’s not a case of being a big fish in a small pond; it’s a case of being a big fish in a pond that doesn’t want to eat all your fish food.
So, if you’re young and full of dreams and aspirations to be the next big thing, I’d heartedly recommend trying your hand at The North. Friendly people will welcome you with open arms, you’ll live somewhere nice that you can afford and, most importantly of all…
The ale is fucking fantastic. It’s your round.