COFFEE TALK #13 - THE GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF YAM

22:05 Jazz Blackwell 0 Comments


Areet, marras. How'st fettel, eh? 

Thoo probably know be noo that A took mesel up ter Scotland t'other month fer ter start Uni. It's been reet smart see far. Av telt thoo already 'ow A feel about classes and marras, and thoo can 'ave a deek at that here if yoower interested. Yan thing that 'asn't come up yit, though - bein' fre Cumbria, outisda Cumbria. 

If you understood that then congratulations, and welcome! You're one of my fellow Mountain People - that being the translation of 'Cumbrian' from old English. If not, then you're in the majority; the people who, when you tell them you're from Cumbria, smile politely, assume you mispronounced 'Newcastle' and move on with their lives. 

If you fall into the latter group, allow me to translate;

Hello, friends. How are you doing?

You probably know by now that I took myself up to Scotland in September in order to start Uni. It's been great so far. I've told you already how I feel about classes and friends, and you can see that here  if you're interested. One thing that hasn't come up yet, though - being from Cumbria, outside of Cumbria.

If you're from Cumbria and have moved away or, indeed, have ever visited anywhere outside of the Lake County, you'll understand that there's a set of events and realisations that come with Cumbrian-ness. We're an odd people; this much is true.  The local fashions tend to be roughly a decade behind those of the rest of the world, you're constantly within seeing distance of a sheep and why the hell would you drink clear lemonade when you could have it the colour of dehydrated urine instead? The outside world is a big and scary place if you're from the land of sheep and shit phone signal, and here's a list of some things that only Cumbrians who have moved away will truly understand.

1. WELLY BOOTS ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE PUB ATTIRE 


For me, nothing conjures up images of home quite like a roaring fire in a pub, set against a backdrop of greying skies and mountains, full of red-cheeked, windswept farmers in out-of-style jeans, flannel jackets and, most importantly, muddy Wellington boots. Being the place of mountain trails and muddy country walks, it's rare you'll happen across a Cumbrian who hasn't owned at least a handful of pairs of wellies in their lifetime. And what does one do after completing a 15-mile hike up a mountain and back down again? Go to the pub, of course! 

Imagine, then, if you will, walking into a city pub to find that not only is nobody wearing wellies - wellies aren't allowed. Horrifying, I know. 

 2. NOBODY KNOWS WHERE THE HELL CUMBRIA IS 
That's us in red
It's the second biggest county in the whole of the UK, and has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the entire world. Yet when you explain to people that you're from Cumbria - they just scratch their head, look confused, then smile politely and ask that damn dreaded question; 

"So... that's near Newcastle, right?" 

Sure it is. If you consider clear across the other side of the country to be 'near'. 

Mind you, Geordie isn't the only thing you'll get mistaken for. One of the blessings of living in Glasgow is never again hearing the question "Which part of Scotland are you from?", and just a couple of weeks ago, the man in the Samsung shop mistook me for being Welsh. Thing is, there's just not much happening in Cumbria that people know of. Even saying 'The Lake District' more times than not results in a blank stare. Take advice from me; if anyone asks where Cumbria is simply tell them to head North West - if you hit the sea or you hit Scotland, you've gone too far.

3. NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THE HELL YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT 

One of the most strange and wonderful things about Cumbrians is the fact that we've developed our own fluent dialect - almost our own language. And it's easy to forget that other people don't speak it; until you greet one of your new, not-Cumbrian pals "Ow'do?" or point out that you're "sweating like an 'oor in chutch" or ask for a piece of "chuddy", and you're met with peals of laughter, plain confusion, or your conversational partner weighing up whether or not they should be offended. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to explain what a word meant so far - even trickier for words that don't really have a single-word translation like clarty and claggy. 

4. YOU'RE MORE CUMBRIAN THAN YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE 

A strange phenomena about the Cumbrian people is that when they live in Cumbria, they try the damndest to sound as un-Cumbrian as possible; mostly for fear of sounding common (anyone remember the "Dead, eh?" bloke?). I've always prided myself on sounding not-all-that Cumbrian - something I've discovered might not be the case since leaving home. As mentioned in my previous point, I've had to explain what the hell I'm talking about on more than one occasion, and I've found that it really is quite Cumbrian to describe things as being "over yonder". If you're planning on upping sticks and moving away from Cumbria, take heed of this; you're definitely more Cumbrian than you think. 

5. EVEN IF YOU'VE NOT HAD THEM IN AGES ,YOU WILL MISS XL CHEESE

Produced by Golden Wonder and only available amongst the not-so-sunny hills, XL Cheese are a food group unto themselves in Cumbria. 

Crispy pieces of salty, cheesy deliciousness, they're a snack that most Cumbrians take for granted. I myself have always just accepted that they exist, even if I don't partake of them all too often. One of the first things I noticed, however, is the distinct lack of them in bars and pubs up here in Glasgow. You know that old phrase about absence making the heart grow fonder? Never is it truer than when you move a Cumbrian away from their XL Cheese.  

6. SOME PLACES DON'T FLOOD EVERY WINTER

Think of Cumbria and you probably think of water; and not just in the persistent rain, abundant meres and waters and the Lake Districts singular lake (points to any non-Cumbrian who can tell me what that lake is!!). Quite unfortunately, images like the one above have become almost a symbol of Cumbria; while beautiful, the scenery of wide expanses of water and acres upon acres of rolling green fields and countryside leaves the area extremely susceptible to flooding, and quite severe flooding at that. 

Nothing highlighted that to me more than when I checked my weather app earlier this week and was genuinely surprised to see that there aren't any flood warnings so far into the official winter, despite there being plenty of rainfall here. Perhaps a refreshing change for me, I can only hope that the same is true of home and that everyone manages to keep dry and safe this winter period. 

So there you have it - a definitive list of things Cumbrians leaving Cumbria should know/understand. If you're from Cumbria, hopefully you found this amusing or helpful. If not? Hopefully you understand us just that little better now. 

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Happy reading, 
Jazz xo 


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