The north is a wonderful place, full of wonderful people. The culture here is unique and also very complex which results in a lot of outsiders having no clue what is going on. This article was written by a northerner and highlights 10 things you’ll only understand if you are from this part of the world.
1. ‘A poke’ any time of the year
Part of the Northern charm is commitment and consistency. An example of this throughout those summer months is going to your closest promenade for a poke. Come rain or shine, that ice cream will be consumed and enjoyed. Whether your hair is stuck to your ice cream thanks to the wind or the rain is pouring, that ice cream represents summer and we will continue to live in hope.
2. ”What school did you go to?”
Depending on the company that you found yourself in, this may have been a trick question that had to be approached with caution. This was often used as a pretty foolproof way to find out if you were from the Catholic or Protestant side of the community. Though, plot twist, intergraded education is becoming a popular choice in Northern Ireland, which is a positive move to bring the communities together.
3. Asking for ‘a chip’ in ‘the chippy’, never chips
It is an unspoken rule within the nation that when entering a chippy, we ask for a chip. Of course, we do not want a solitary chip, but a delicious, mountainous portion. However, asking for chips gives the impression that you are pompous, uncultured and quite frankly I believe that you deserve the solitary chip. And while we are at it, yes, you do want salt and vinegar.
4. The ‘North Coast’
The North Coast, although it technically runs the entire way from Ballycastle to the other side of Donegal, this refers to Portrush and Portstewart. These are unspoken state lines. No matter what direction you are approaching from, you are going ‘up north.’ People come from far and wide to embrace the North Coast, usually for a Ramore. One glimpse of sunshine and you can expect at least a 12-hour delay on the A26 towards the North.
5. You know all about ’flegs’
An amusing word that was created during an unsettling time in Belfast in 2012. A fleg, is basically a flag with a thick Belfast accent. It truly brought out some real characters in Belfast that protested the decision to change the rules on flying the Union Jack fleg at Belfast City Hall. These events truly captured some classic content to provide the internet with some hilarious memes and edited videos. Everyone up north knows all too well how some people love their flegs too much.
6. Trying to get off the phone
My first real memory of this was in school overhearing my friend on the phone to her mum. “Alright, ok, bye, ok, bye, alright, ok, bye, love you, bye, see you later, bye.” I am almost certain that most of the conversation was the long goodbye. Thankfully the times have caught up with Northern Ireland and phone companies offer unlimited minutes. Back in the day, she’d have been saying goodbye to her £10 top up on her Nokia 3210 with one phone call.
7. Single Syllable mumbled words have valid meaning
I often wonder if we take it upon ourselves to change words. This is often highlighted to me when I travel or speak to my international friends. We get lazy, syllables are suggestions to us. Mirror- murrrrr, eight- ateeee, power- parrrr, shower-sharrrr, God forbid we need to say power shower. I have been told it sounds like we are just making a noise. My argument, technically, every word is just a noise.
A word that those from Belfast or Derry use to describe anyone who lives outside these cities. You know, people that have to travel more than 30 minutes to find civilisation. People that wear a chain and have their collars popped, the farming sort of folk. Those that may greet you with ‘hey bai’ or block the roads with their tractors. The good ones pull over to let the cars past, to you culchies, we salute you.
9. The ‘Balls on the Falls’
‘Balls on the Falls’ also known as ‘RISE’. A £400,000 sculpture that overlooks a hospital that may have been able to use that cash injection in a slightly more helpful way. I appreciate art in many forms, I really do, but the only reaction this gives me is a sudden urge to go on to the Crystal Maze. Though, I suppose Belfast has enough wind and litter that we could recreate taking on the ‘Dome’ within the metal structure. It had taken 2 years to erect the ‘Balls’ (behave yourself..) as opposed to the original 1-month plan.
10. Hearing our accent on TV
You love Julian Simmons on UTV but you find yourself shuddering and rolling your eyes when one of our own is on the TV. However, it is comical gold when a real local has been interviewed on the news. I got hooked watching The Fall, but in a dramatic, cliff-hanging moment, it’s sometimes hard to take our accent seriously.