East fucking Midlands, bitch!

Areet? I’m from the East Midlands – that place you all forgot about until I mentioned it just then.

Technically, the East Midlands is Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Northamptonshire. However Northamptonshire doesn’t seem to pull its weight up here in the north of the region. It feels different and they’re basically southern. We don’t count them.

Likewise most of Lincolnshire is solidly in the East Midlands, but to the south it gets all flat and a bit East Anglia-ey and yet it’s also the East Midlands county that extends furthest north, butting up to the mouth of the Humber at the top. In short, it’s got a bit of an identity crisis and we’re content to leave it alone until it’s figured itself out. Thanks for keeping the sea away from the rest of us though Lincolnshire, you’re doing us a solid.

So that leaves Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire: the EM counties that get shit done.

Now some of you might be thinking ‘what about Rutland?’ I’ve not forgotten Rutland.

I’m one of the few.

We don’t really acknowledge Rutland. It’s kind of like a kid brother that runs up to us when we’re trying to do grown up stuff shouting “Guys! Guys! What about me?”, to which we respond (cruelly): “Go away Rutland, you’re barely a real county. Firstly, you’re ridiculously tiny; secondly, you sound like a made-up place with a funny name invented for Blackadder.”

To give you an impression of this, outside of government documents and statistics I have heard or seen Rutland mentioned three times. Once in Qi, in reference to its titchiness. Once in a Weatherspoons on the bar-tap of a real ale that was brewed there. And once in fucking Blackadder, where it was likely picked for its funny name and obscurity. The mention in question isn’t even from one of the good series of Blackadder. It’s from the first.

But the East Midlands is often forgotten about because it’s overshadowed by the West Midlands, with their more distinctive accent and having the second biggest city in the country and all. But we’ve got things too! Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire have wonderful universities, and Derbyshire has the Peak District. Well, part of it. Nottinghamshire has Sherwood Forest; Leicestershire has the National Space Centre; and Derbyshire has the Peak District… again. But it’s really good so we can count it twice, right?

Lincolnshire probably has some cool stuff too. I don’t know much about Northants. Nobody knows anything about Rutland. It appears to be mostly lake.

This is Google’s first image for Rutland that isn’t a map. Like me, you’ll have to take their word for it…

Perhaps it is because of the accent that no-one remembers us, as it ain’t particularly memorable. As might be expected from the geography, around my part at least the accent is a not especially endearing middle-ground between watered-down West Midlands and watered-down Yorkshire, without the potential charm of either.

Round Nottinghamshire and parts of Derbyshire we do call people ‘duck’ though. I’m not an etymologist so I’ve no idea how the fuck that came about. Nottingham has a goose fair, but I’m fairly certain they’re unrelated. What I like to imagine is that we observed the north’s propensity for calling people ‘pet’ and said “Reyt, we want a bit of that. But we’re gonna up the ante! We’re going to be specific… and yet quirky. Quick, somebody think of a goofy one-syllable animal!” (and this was medieval times remember, they didn’t know as many animals then).

It also confuses a lot of people where the region starts and ends. Regarding our end you often hear from southerners “Nottingham, is that in the North?” or “Derbyshire, that’s Northern, right?” Unsurprisingly Northerners are a lot sharper on who’s in the north and not, but I imagine they have a similar confusion about Northamptonshire and Rutland at the south of the region. Hell, I’d bet there are people in Nottinghamshire who don’t know Northamptonshire is part of the East Midlands.

I feel the North does us a disservice, imagining our dislike of the South to be lessened somewhat by our being closer to it. I’d argue the opposite is true; we have to put up with its bullshit more often ‘cos we’re closer. In fact we (West Midlands included) do North and South alike a great service by acting as a physical buffer between the two, meaning they’re comfortably separate from each-other.

The West Midlands might actually act as a deterrent. Southeners head North for the scenery or something and then they see Coventry, and they see Birmingham, and they think to themselves ‘fuck this shit’ and turn right back around. Then, perched atop the Bullring, Noddy Holder lowers his binoculars and shouts “It worked again lads, they’re gone! Turn of that cloud machine and stop putting on those ridiculous voices!” and they do, and Birmingham becomes the nice place it’s capable of being, because it’s not the comedy shithole it’s imagined to be and like all cities, has shitty parts and better parts.

Coventry isn’t putting on an act however, it just really is that shit. I’ve lived there.

Image: Trip Advisor user toesinthewater

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