‘What engines of growth that remain include Durham University, which imports students from China, a strong tourism sector, which imports visitors from China, and the takeaway restaurant market, which imports meat of questionable provenance from China.’
Once defined by the coal mining industry, modern Durham has cravenly boarded the bandwagon of a new global economic order, and today spends most of its time preserving some fine historic towns and learning Mandarin.
At the centre of the north-east’s emphasemic industrial heartland, Durham remains proud of its manufacturing heritage. Visitors are encouraged to visit the interactive museums that have sprung up where factories once stood, and buy finely crafted examples of the machinist’s work from the gift shop, all of which have been made in Tianjin. While industrial output has fallen dramatically the county continues to produce much in the way of high-quality nostalgia, though it is feared that this too may soon be outsourced to Tianjin.
The people of Durham have made efforts to identify with their new trading partners as much as possible. Already well-practised in inscrutability, many have taken to conversing entirely in gnomic proverbs, while local cafes have seen a marked increase in popularity for ‘fortune pies’ that often make eerily accurate predictions about future heart attacks.
In response to the growing Chinese influence in the region, America has carefully selected celebrities ready to deploy in the region should any backsliding into communism be identified.
- TRADITIONAL GREETING: 𨳒你 !
- UNIFORM: Overalls for all
- EXPORTS: Jobs
- IMPORTS: Made in China
- CLIMATE: Pretty bitter
- ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS: Has outsourced their manufacture of these to China as well
7th Century – Durham grows in spiritual prominence as the resting place of Saint Cuthbert and Saint Bede the Venerable, two of the medieval period’s most popular stand-up comedians.
698 – St Cuthbert’s body is found to be perfectly preserved in Durham Cathedral decades after his death, a feat seen as a miracle by believers and seized upon as the strongest argument yet for the installation of a new heating system by the bishop.
1069 – Three years after the Battle of Hastings the city of Durham is finally captured by a Norman army, who blame their late arrival on First Capital Connect.
16th Century – The county experiences dramatic population decline after a series of plague outbreaks reduce life expectancy from double to single figures.
18th Century – Daniel Defoe notes that Darlington has “nothing remarkable but dirt,” not realising the fact the town had only discovered dirt twelve years earlier.
1831 – After winning a major national competition, Sunderland is given the honour of hosting the starting point of an Indian Cholera epidemic.
1985 – Speaking at a rally in Stockton, National Union of Mineworkers leader Arthur Scargill pauses for breath for only the second time in eight months.
1995 – A proposal from Disney to open up a ‘Seven Dwarves Experience’ on decommissioned coal mine sites is rejected by Durham City council.
Did You Know?
The city of Sunderland has some of the most deprived areas in England, with some wards recently awarded the special status of being founder members of the Fifth World by the UN.
During the Napoleonic wars, legend has it that a monkey which had been a ship’s mascot was taken for a French spy and hanged by the people of Hartlepool. In 2002, Stuart Drummond won the office of Mayor in the costume of H’Angus the Monkey under the election slogan “free bananas for schoolchildren” after focus groups rejected “flinging faeces for Hartlepool”.
Gateshead is home to the MetroCentre, the largest shopping centre in Europe. With over 500 shops and 100 restaurants, the centre also boasts a theme park, over 5,000 parking spaces and an on-site divorce lawyer.
The Durham Miner’s Gala, first held in 1871, is the largest socialist trade union event in the world. Developed around the culture of pit workers, the gala features colliery bands, impassioned political speeches and hour after hour of repetitive tedium.