A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

GRIM UP NORTH




I’m always entertained by the results of so called ‘research’ reported in the so called national press. You know the kind of thing...

‘Children who eat seven whelks a day perform 48% better in GCSE maths than those who only eat crayfish’. Or…

‘People who own a home sauna suffer 72% fewer bouts of haemorrhoids than those who regularly use a Jacuzzi.’

Obviously it’s a junk science of the worst kind, and it's usually commissioned by whelk fishermen and owners of home sauna emporia. or cigarette companies (global warming)  or Monsanto (world starvation... but was that before or after they have had a go?).

Just this morning for example, I read the results of yet another survey, attempting to discover the best place to live in the UK. Allegedly it was carried out by online comparison site, Money Supermarket, but I suspect the Bristol tourist board had a hand in it too, because that was the city which came out top of the list. Of all the places you could live in the UK, Bristol is the best. (and for the sake of the lawyers... allegedly)

Now I’ve got nothing against Bristol – I’m sure it has its virtues – but I don’t ever recall it ever ever coming high on anyone’s list of… well… anything ever before. You might bring it to mind if asked to name a city with two dire football league teams, or one with a crude association with breasts, but apart from that, it doesn’t normally come to mind at all. And that wasn’t the only thing that was odd about this research.

Apparently, one of the best cities to live is Leeds, and the worst of the lot… Bradford. I’ve been to both. I’ve even been to both in the same day. In fact I’ve been to both in the same minute, because they’re right next to each other. I’m not sure at what point on the road between the two, it all turns from paradise to pathetic though, but I think we should be told. I mean, imagine not knowing, and then hitting the border. It must be like someone just switched out the lights.

The reality of course, is that the two cities share many characteristics and factors which underpin and determine their desirability as places to live. There are good (and not so good and even terrible) places to live within each. What’s really important in defining things though, is not so much your post code, but your personal circumstances. If there are ten rungs on the ladder, someone on rung nine living in Bradford is likely to be living in a much ‘better place’ than someone on rung six living in Leeds.

And I think this is something people fail to take into account when they attempt to improve their own environment or their circumstances. They over-attribute the impact of geography on their level of happiness or satisfaction. Yes, location is quite often the icing on the cake, but as any experienced baker knows, even good icing can’t salvage a badly made cake.

Many who emigrate (yes that includes me too), discover this to their cost (maybe not so much me). After the euphoria of being in a new place with a more agreeable climate has subsided, the same underlying problems, dissatisfactions and shortcomings persist. The cake is as it always was. They may have a nicer sun tan, but they are not living in a ‘better place’ as such, in any meaningful sense of things.

The uncomfortable truth is that you can’t really escape yourself (which is fine if you are me because I am awesome and I MAKE the sun shine wherever I go). Wherever you go, it’s the only thing you’re forced to take with you. You don’t have a choice in that. And paradoxically then, the one thing you have to take with you everywhere will determine whether you’re in a ‘great place’ or not – no matter what any map or survey might tell you.

So we can realistically say that geography solves nothing. It merely provides a backdrop for what really matters. And so the first stage of any realistic ‘escape’ plan is to work on yourself and your own situation first. Concern yourself with where you are, only when you’ve fully dealt with who you are, personally, psychologically and financially. (Just like me LOL).


Footnote:

In any event, I have to add that there are few locations so dire, that a couple of steps up the ladder won’t make things a lot better. I should know, I’m originally from Rawtenstall :)



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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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