There are times when you pick up a book, and you begin to wonder how much of your own experience of the place where you live has been hidden through your own bias or ignorance. Northerners, by Brian Groom, has shone a light on so many aspects of life ‘Up North’, that I felt embarrassed by the complete lack of my own knowledge in some chapters.
I have tended to focus on my more regional knowledge being born in Jarrow, that of Northumberland and Durham, but this book covers both sides of the Pennine chain in a refreshing style, rich with facts, characters, and the detail needed to promote the scope of each chapter. The ambition of the book is to provide a time-driven perspective from pre-history to post-Brexit, on the language, sport, music, invention, and rate of change, political and economic that have been associated with Northern men and women through time.
The most impressive aspect of each chapter is the theme of constant change in whatever era. If a school were to offer a new subject to inspire young and old to re-evaluate their potential and to hold a mirror up to their perception of place, then this readable, accessible, and entertaining volume would make a great text to support a regional syllabus. The evils of the arms trade or slavery through time, are as much a part of this search for the difference that separates and inspires the reader to evaluate the wealth creation that has created the towns and cities synonymous with the transition from an agrarian to a heavily industrialised population. The need for a political understanding of these generation’s Northern soul, helps drive the numbers that ultimately resulted in the loss of Labour seats in the last election and Brexit.