"Where are you from?" The immortal words I hear so often on holiday, bellow from another southerners mouth. I know what their exact reply will be when I say I'm from Barnsley. "BAAAAARNSLEY?!" they wail. No, Barnsley, it has one a, you twat.
So, recently I've been living in Peterborough during the week, and going home at the weekend.
Been a "Barnsley Lad" Peterborough is a bit different. It's flat for a start.
Normally when I go home on a weekend I just see college mates, who mostly live in Huddersfield, and so don't really get to see that much of my home town.
But when I came home on Tuesday night (I had a day off on Wednesday), I realised just how much I miss Barnsley.
I realise that most people who have heard of it think of it as the town where all the scum live, and indeed I reckon some people may not have heard of it. If it weren't for Jeremy Clarkson ripping Barnsley every now and again on Top Gear.
When I went into the chippy just down the road from my parents house in Barnsley, I was greeted with a "Y'oreyt lad? Arr's things? Tha 'ad a good day?" ("How are you? How are things? and have you had a good day?" to you non-Barnsley folk). Never once have I walked into a cafe, shop or fish and chip restaurant outside of Yorkshire or Barnsley to be greeted with such friendliness. And indeed such a great accent. I think once you go south of Yorkshire people care too much about their status and making money.
Barnsley is a simple town, a bit like Royston Vasey (which coincidentally was based on a small Yorkshire town called, coincidentally (again) Marsden). People generally don't care about global warming, or politics, or any other major issue in the world. They're quite happy to just trundle along getting on with their lives and not be bothered by the outside world.
My Mum doesn't particularly like Barnsley. She seem to have adopted the same, negative frame of mind as everyone who has never been there. Even though she chose to move there.
I'm glad the nation sees Barnsley as a shit hole. I fear that if they saw it as anything more it would be ruined, with commercialisation and people who don't understand what it means to be from Barnsley. It would just be another town, with no heritage or accent.
I want to move back to Barnsley later on in life. Don't get me wrong, I'm not narrow minded. I want to travel and see the world and things other people haven't. But my heart is with that bleak mining town up north, and that is where it shall stay.