My road to Damascus moment came on the road to Hexham, when I saw a sign. Literally. It was this one.
And I realised that the all the time I thought that sign had been saying this:
It had actually been saying this:
What a difference that ‘r’ makes! I slowed down to 50 so that I could read Northumberland’s history on Wikipedia. The country – the Kingdom – of Northumbria once stretched from the Forth to the Humber. A mere 1,200 years ago wasn’t just a place where you complained that the main road from London to Edinburgh is still bloody single-carriageway for miles and miles, it was a proud sovereign state!
The land where my forefathers roamed has been appropriated by the Scottish bastards to the North, the Yorkshire bastards to the South and the miscellaneous bastards to the West.
At once I was transformed from a middle-aged white bloke with 3 ‘O’ levels and unresolved anger management issues into a member of an oppressed people with a legitimate grievance and a solid historical reason for believing that somebody, somewhere owed me reparations…and hopefully in sufficient quantities to pay for damages caused by the “sheep” I’d just hit.
What’s shocking is that me and my fellow Northumbrians have been oppressed by the English for so long that there’s not even a political party campaigning for independence for Northumbria. I resolved to start one immediately!
Thereby, I proudly announce the formation of the Party for Northumbrian Sovereignty – the PNS. And I resolve that the PNS shall never be one of those parochial and divisive nationalist parties. Our motto shall be “Everyone Included” and the PNS will fight as hard for those Northumbrians in Edinburgh, slaving under the hated yolk of the Scotch, as it does for those in York who find themselves insultingly called ‘Yorkshireman’ (or the Y-word, as we’d prefer non-Northumbrians to say)!
“Everyone Included” is so central to the PNS that it appears on our flag (which, though you might find it hard to believe, I designed myself)…
Reading more, while I waited for Green Flag to tow me out of a ditch, I was delighted to discover that the Scots language started life as Northumbrian Old English. It was the authentic voice of the hardy everyday folk of Northumberland, as opposed to the Gaelic spoken by the toffs and nobs at Scottish courts. Therefore, PNS strongly supports efforts to reintroduce Scots -or, as we will call it, Northumbrian- and to have it recognised as a distinct and culturally rich language.
PNS is also putting forward a comprehensive white paper showing how an independent Northumbria would work, economically. Basically Northumberland alone has 3½ times the land of Greater London, but only 4% of the population. If just ¼ of the Greater London population can be persuaded to move to Northumbria and pay just ½ of what an average London house costs, and if just 10% of that purchase price goes in tithes to the newly formed kingdom then we’re looking at a windfall of, according to Excel, £5.34E+010, which certainly sounds like shit-loads! And that’s before we consider tariffs on the use of the A1, the tourism boost caused by our new royal family and the one-off payment for us ensuring that Berwick-Upon-Fucking-Tweed never bothers anybody ever again.
Between now and the 2020 General Election I shall be building a team of core PNS-lovers and ensuring that the party is ready to fight for seats in parliament to advance our cause. We’re also hoping to get Mel Gibson on board to make a film about the historical cruelty suffered by brave Northumbrians at the hands of…whoever.
So I’ll leave you with the first draft of my election flyer (hence the typo, sorry), and I hope that when you think of nationalists you’ll think “PNS”.
Author’s note: Credit for the map of 9th century Northumbria belongs to Finn Bjorklid – detail from Wikimedia Commons file, Northumbria 802, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25766987