North & South


I am a Northern Gal myself as I was born and grew up in the far north at The Arctic Circle, in Lapland which even in Finnish terms is considered to be exotic. Here is the link to my Memories: Childhood in Lapland entry. The map of the world shows that Finland is at the same latitude as Alaska and Lapland is at the very northern part of the same. The title for this entry comes from the most excellent book of the same name:


North & South* is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in 1854.
It originally appeared as a serial in the magazine, Household Words. The title indicates a major theme of the book: the contrast between the way of life in the industrial north of England and the wealthier south.

North & South presents, as the title suggests, a contrast between the old agricultural gentry of the South of England and the new industrialists of the north. As the wife of a Unitarian minister in Manchester, Elizabeth Gaskell herself worked among the poor and knew at first hand the misery of the industrial areas. She is today ranked among the most highly regarded British novelists of the Victorian era. (Wikipedia)

In Finland the south is where the capital city, Helsinki, is situated, where the industry is and where most of the people of the nation live in. Lapland has a very strong tourist industry; particularly, this time of the year when visitors from all the corners of the world flock to see the Red Man himself. The people in Lapland have more in common with the Swedish Lapland than with the Southern Finland, and that is not so strange as the there used to be one nation across the River Tornio until the war that Sweden had with Russia about Finland in the 1808-09. In this entry here I am talking about the special relationship that Finns and Swedes do have and in the entry here about my growing up in Lapland and about the background to the situation in there.
The north-south situation is similar in Sweden, in The UK and in Norway as well where it is like that of in Finland. Whereas in Germany, France, Spain and in Italy the situation is reversed: the north is more wealthy and the place where tis happening.

What amazed me in being and living with the various nationalities that, for example, the northern Italians consider that Africa starts south of Rome! One friend from Rome was teased by the others from northern Italy absolutely mercilessly because of his Roman accent in Italian. Then on to the Germans in Bavaria, where I was, considered the northern Germans to be Prussians and that the southerners should build a nation of Tirolia with the Italian and Austrian Tyroleans.

Further on to Spain: The northern parts of the country as in the Basque Country and Catalonia are very patriotic for their own areas and consider that they are the ones forced to pay the bulk of the costs in Spain. And they so resent it. I used to say to the Catalonians and the other Spaniards that I will hand them a pair of boxing gloves each to see ‘who is who’ in this matter when the discussions became so heated up!

In Ireland the North is part of the UK and used to be miles ahead of the South in nigh every way. What do I mean? Here is an entry I did on the Twelfth of July and another one on Belfast. Here is a snippet of the same:

Belfast is so very near to Dublin in the Southern Ireland and yet so far. What that? Well, the mentality of the Northerner compared to the Southerner is miles apart, in almost every way. Where the Dubliner and the rest of the population in the south are laid-back, witty, fatalistic and not-so-terribly efficient in whatever they do, the Northerner is uptight, serious, strong willed and highly efficient in his/her basic nature.

We used to be simply awed by the state of the roads as soon as one crossed the border in Newry over to the Northern Ireland. One could really put the boot down from here on the motorway and be in Belfast in a jiffy! Marvellous. The state of the roads in the Republic were – and still are in parts – such that the journey even though not that long in miles or kilometers took a lifetime!

I belong to a society that has a lot of co-operation between the south and the north of Ireland and there was a serious plan to unite the two into one all-Ireland society. We were all at first so gong-ho about it and it was a must to have the formal unity, until we came to see that the southerner and his northern counterpart are in every day life in their manner and thinking too far apart. For example, I would tell a joky comment and the southerners would be rolling laughing on the floor getting it immediately; whereas the northerners were like: WHAT is she talking about? They would/could not get it even when explained point by point!!

Do not get it wrong as I do love going to the Northern Ireland and the people there. Their accent is priceless in my mind as well.

Tis for now. Riihele xx.

What is the situation, as You see, in Your Country?

* Book in eFormat available at Project Gutenberg online.

The BBC most excellent dramatization of the North & South of 2004 is in this link.