March 22, 2012
The North-South Divide is a topic of conversation that is often discussed within British society. The subject matter involved within these deliberations will generally focus on the lack of parity in respect of the levels of pay, variance in the standard of living, and inconsistent job opportunities between the two regions. A theme that is also examined, which may be deemed a more trivial matter, focuses on the perception that those from the Northern section of the divide are far more personable and hospitable than their Southern neighbours.
A case could be made in support of the formation of a sub-culture in the North, whereby striking up conversations with strangers is not unheard of and going out of ones way to offer a helping hand is graciously appreciated, rather than met with a view of caution. Unfortunately, the majority dwelling in the south do not appear to welcome the spontaneous acts of kindness and goodwill that those beyond the Watford gap adopt, often fearing the motives behind these actions.
One who is unfamiliar with customs in the south of England would be forgiven for thinking that its occupants have evolved an aversion to friendliness and have yet found a cure to what is not far short of a crippling disease. They appear inherently unable to embrace the versatility that liberal behaviour can provide and which in turn can help to break the often monotonous actions of everyday life. In the South it is noticeable that people are far colder towards one another and less likely to interact on a prolonged scale. People often give the impression that they are worried that any friendly actions will be deemed abnormal and somehow provoke a negative reaction. The old adage that a smile costs nothing, while embraced by the northern kin, is a preaching which, it could be said, generally appears lost on those in the south.
As I am currently experiencing, Canadians are more closely related to those residing in the north of the United Kingdom, habitually taking warm greetings to the next level and upholding an innate friendliness that appears to be adopted in unison from all sections of society. Everyday it is hard not to be caught off guard by the sea of smiles and chorus of pleasantries that greet your arrival. Whether it be a passerby on the street or the proprietor of a bar or restaurant, the depth of their amiability remains alien, no matter how hard one tries to embrace it. When originating from a society in which you are encouraged to focus your eyes on the floor in order to avoid impulsive social interaction, or to stick to a pre-determined script of brief pleasantries when forced to interact with others, becoming accustomed to progressive social attitudes can take time.