Catching Northern

How bizarrely random it is finding myself living in Oldham, a place so different to where I lived for sixty years. I am a Southern woman who could scarcely have been born further South in Britain if I had tried than in Jersey, where I lived for eighteen years and where my mother resides.
Long-term illness and the tug of family brought me here, to the land of northerness. Severe sciatica ended my old call centre job as I could no longer sit, hooked up to a computer and head set all day. Medically dismissed and not wanting to claim benefits, I impulsively sold my terraced house near Tunbridge Wells in Kent where I had lived for ten years following my divorce. Despite never having visited the area, I opted to move close to my only daughter who had moved to Huddersfield to work. I sold my house, bought a cheaper, but better, house up North and live off the monetary difference between my sold Southern house and the Northern house. I devote myself entirely to accomplishing my life’s ambition of writing my autobiography and other books. My first book is far too long, containing material for several books, so I am rewriting it as several books.
Unhappy in her job, my daughter, annoyingly, moved back South a year after I moved North. She is now happy, having found a better job and bought a house in Croydon with her boyfriend, but her relocation robbed me of my main reason for moving into this different world, although every Northerner I have talked to has been friendly. The men seem generally more masculine than men in the South. I am becoming accustomed to the harsher landscapes, predominantly red brick houses and canals. As I am reluctant to explore the area alone, there is much northerness I have not experienced and probably never will, like a tram journey or Northern lover.
My first Oldham winter was severe, but it was also severe down South. My first Northern summer was sunnier than many Kent summers, demonstrating it does not constantly raining up here as feared.
The Northern accent still sounds so different to what I have heard for decades. I fear my Southern accent sounds out of place, identifying me as a weird interloper. However, when I admitted as much to ladies in my writing group, the only people I socialise with, one said, ‘Most of us here moved to this area from all over the UK. You don’t actually sound that different.’
‘Oh, do you think I’ve caught Northern?’ I replied, shocked but somewhat relieved, as the ladies laughed at my turn of phrase.
Perhaps the Northern accent has surreptitiously crept up on me. After eighteen months absorbing different speech patterns, maybe I now echo the accent. I may eventually sound like a cast member of Coronation Street. My writing group sound Northern, but most were also born elsewhere. Over time, they must have caught Northern too.

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