Five years is a long time: long enough to get halfway towards brewing a decent port; long enough for Catalonia to decide they’ve had enough of Spain; long enough for Britain to think ‘that’s a good idea, who can we fall out with?’. It’s how long I’ve been in Spain, away from my homeland. Away from Yorkshire.
Yorkshire being Yorkshire, not much has changed. For starters, I’ve slipped back into nodding as an acceptable form of communication. However, one thing is different: just how ‘Yorkshire’ everything is.
When I left, being from Yorkshire was like being a stonemason, or keeping an allotment – something for old people.
Now though, Yorkshire is everywhere. Like a Brexit comment in a Guardian article, it’s crowbarred in wherever you don’t expect it, and in the few places you do.
Soon after my return I spent a few days in the Peak District. All over Castleton and Hathersage, lovely villages in Derbyshire, cafes advertise ‘traditional English breakfasts.’ Again, a few days later, whilst visiting villages in the Yorkshire Dales, I saw cafes advertising ‘traditional Yorkshire breakfasts.’ Along with that you could have a Yorkshire tea, or, if the mood struck you so early, a choice of traditional Yorkshire beers to be accompanied by Yorkshire crisps, made with Yorkshire cheese.
There’s now a ‘national’ football team competing in a tournament for displaced nations. After you’ve seen them play, you can cycle some of the routes on the Tour de Yorkshire, such as the Côte de Buttertubs. Like a 60 year old man ordering ‘oon beer sivoo plet’ on his holidays in the Vendee, the merger of flat Northern vowels and a French vernacular sounds cumbersome, like an elephant traversing a rope ladder.
But should it? My Dad argues that it sounds glamourous when the French and Spanish speak English heavily accented, so why shouldn’t it the other way? Other than ‘because it does’, I’ve no idea.
It’s been a year since I was reading stories of Catalan Independence. Whilst I’m not advocating an independence referendum and arresting local councillors, perhaps Yorkshire has more in common with Catalonia than first appears. We both have flags, our own way of communicating, and a love of cycling.
Perhaps the Tour de France visiting Yorkshire in 2014 was the tipping point for the current love for Yorkshire.. Helicopters and drones filmed the landscapes that European audiences made a note to visit. One million people watched the peloton ride up Holme Moss and then spilled into surrounding pubs and restaurants. As the world saw the true beauty of God’s Own Country, its as if we all looked at each other and decided ‘Aye, it’s alreet round ‘ere.’ Imagine that said in a French accent.
Photo via Flickr.com