Northumberland: Lonesome tonight

‘Once one of the busiest counties in Britain with armies passing through to say hello almost every year, Northumberland is struggling to come to terms with its crippling loneliness today.’

Whether its throwing a ball listlessly against a brick wall, whistling in a melancholy way, or simply counting out the paracetemol tablets one more time, Northumberland labours through the long days and longer nights, unable to understand why people don’t visit any more.

After a busy social life as a border county at the forefront of regular skirmishes between England and Scotland, expectations for the future were high, and for a while the county barely had time to smooth down its torn skirts or put out the fires left by previous invaders before the next army arrived. Although the county might be a little ashamed of some of the pillaging that went on in its ardent youth, the lack of human contact since those days means Northumberland sometimes can’t help but yearn for an old-fashioned sacking.

Northumberland’s isolation has resulted in the region picking up some unsettling habits. Sending their outcast football team to play in the Scottish leagues just to meet new people was the first step down a worrying road for the town of Berwick, which now has a hockey side in the Chinese fourth division and the local bell ringing group based in a ditch in Bedford. Meanwhile, many in Alnwick claim to be able to hear the phone ringing day and night, eagerly picking up the handset only to receive dial tone for the hundredth time before tearfully replacing it and walking back to stare out the window.

Facts

  • POPULATION – No
  • ETHNICITY – White; 99.9%, Didn’t understand ‘White’ doesn’t mean literally white; 0.1%
  • OWNERSHIP OF FOG ON THE TYNE – Mine (100%)
  • POPULAR SPORTS – 1-a-side football, shooting, very short games of tennis
  • ABILITY TO HEAR PIN DROP: Would be high but for pin being blown 30 miles away by gales
  • DRESS CODE – Cagoules; fur pelts
  • ADDRESS BOOK – Blank apart from personal details carefully filled in at the front
  • HOBBIES – Poking strangers on Facebook; long lonely walks

History

10,000 BC – Unconvinced by the merits of stone, ancient Northumbrian settlers stand firm as the last stronghold of the Dung Age.

1st Century AD – At the order of Emperor Hadrian, Roman armies construct a wall across the Northumbrian border in order to keep out marauding Picts, angry Scots and holidaying Tongans.

200 − 1200 – Nowt’.

13th Century – Fighting between Scottish and English armies flares up regularly in the disputed border region, creating much death, mourning, and most regrettably, folk balladry.

1753 − Having little idea what to do with the extra leisure time created by improvements in agricultural technology, lonely Northumbrian farm workers embark on what is later considered to be a ‘golden age’ of bestiality.

1913 – Loansdean-born suffragette Emily Davison throws herself under the King’s horse during the Epsom Derby. In tribute to her bravery, local men leave tributes of un-ironed shirts by her grave.

1972 – A famous Ronnie Radford strike sends minnows Hereford United into dreamland as they shock Newcastle United, knocking them out of the FA Cup third round. The stay in dreamland endures in the following round, where the team turn up naked, and all their old school teachers are watching.

Did You Know?

Morpeth’s Mafeking Park is officially the smallest public park in Britain. Now a small roundabout, the park is considered an oasis by selective walkers unsatisfied with the other 5,000 km of Northumberland’s walkable land.

A major green space in Newcastle is the Town Moor, lying immediately north of the city centre. Larger than Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath put together, freemen of he city have the right to use the space for grazing cattle and cottaging.

In a report published in early 2007, Newcastle was named as the noisiest city in the whole of the UK, with an average level of 80.4 decibels, roughly the same as a working factory – ironically something which the town hasn’t possessed for over thirty years.

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer’s repetitive and uninspired one-arm raised goal celebration proves to be a good foreshadow for his television punditry career.

Shipyards along the River Tyne made the area amongst the world’s largest shipbuilding centres, with poor craftsmanship contributing to its equally strong ship-repairing industry.

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