To my delight and surprise, I find myself offered the directorship of the Alliance’s Northern Affairs. Shades of the long-surviving Old Kingdom of Northumbria come to mind, and when you drive inland a bit, and climb the straignt and narrow roads, and gaze over the long dark hills that in geologically modern times but in humanly ancient ones the Roman legions exhaustedly tramped, it’s very nice to be such a director. Yes, the North is good, and I cannot thank God enough that we now live here, that He was pleased to show us this place in time for our children to enjoy it properly, and for me to find such charming people (mostly) living here.
So that’s what I will principally write about, but also always with a global and liberal perspective. I want to share with you a thing we noticed on moving up here to the North West some years ago. The people I ask here can’t answer the question sufficiantly articulately for me, becuase the emotion that gave rise to the phenomenon is just, sort of, in their blood.
I refer to the predilection for personalised car number plates. It fascinates me as a native Londoner, where you had to be as anonymous as possible. Discounting the few dozen Big Men who live around here, whose wives don’t work (locally unusual) and who “run” the clubs (and other matters) in Manchester and Liverpool, about one in four cars sports things like BI6 RJD, BI6 PAM, JB41, A4 NDD, 26L, LOV3 X, T700 RON, A1 (yes, really, me, I saw it on Saturday), M155 SXY,
X 4 DC X, T8 5EXY, W16ANM, W16ANW (one behind the other in a traffic queue) etc etc.
When I ran my business in London, and if I had purchased a “private plate”, three things would have happened simultaneously;
(1) All my 5 staff would have complained that I could therefore easily afford to pay them more, and some might have given notice. this would have been an inconvenient pain, and hurtful.
(2) Customers on noticing, would have stated that I was clearly making too much profit, and would have demanded discounts.
(3) Local nameless hoods would have keyed the side of the car.
Yet here, it seems the “thing to do”. Students of mine, even, get prsented with their own plate on their 18th birthdays or similar. I have discussed the matter with some of the more approachable parents and students, who say “it’s cool!”. And….”People will know who we are!” And….”It’s the next best thing to getting my “pic” (sic) in the paper!”
From where I am coming from, that sums up the very risk and the exact problem of having such a plate. Plus the increasingly important fact of not thereby being able to deny a charge of speeding through a camera.
Is it something to do with being near Liverpool? Is Boris Johnson a reader of this? Can readers help me here with an insight or two, about the differential psychologies of the South and the North-West?