Brit criticises 'the futile and arbitrary business of attempting to impose large, simplistic categories onto what is, in reality, a chaotic mass of British humanity'. So I reach for my tin hat when I say that I've imposed, in futile and arbitrary fashion, a couple of new large and simplistic categories on the chaotic mass of British humanity.
We hear all the time about Scots versus English, North versus South, London versus the provinces. But what about East versus West? No, I'm not talking about Asia and The West or Islam and Christianity. I mean Eastern England versus Western England. To ensure procrustean clarity, that would be Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire versus Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall. Seems a fair fight.
I've lived in both regions and I can vouch for there being some profound and intrinsic disparities, which have both historical and geographical origins. As we're dealing in categories, I'm sure the best way to illustrate these is through the use of rigid, binary tabulation (but in no particular order at all):
West --- East
Celtic --- Norse
Hilly --- Flat
Warm westerlies --- Cold easterlies
Wet --- Dry
Bohemian --- Puritan
Oxford --- Cambridge
Curly --- Straight
Beef --- Wheat
Cider --- Beer
Vaughan Williams --- Britten
Bath --- Ely
Atlantic --- North Sea
The Wurzels --- Pink Floyd
Horseradish --- Mustard
Cavalier --- Roundhead
America --- Low Countries
Romance --- Realism
Glastonbury --- V Festival
M4 --- M11
Prince Charles --- Bernard Matthews
Brunel --- Coke of Norfolk
Trip-hop --- Line dancing
Rugby --- Football
St Ives School --- Norwich School
Winston Churchill --- Margaret Thatcher
Stephen Merchant --- Stephen Fry
Keith Floyd --- Jamie Oliver
Not every Western entry is clearly superior to its oriental counterpart, I admit. But I think any fair-minded person would also have to admit the comparison is overwhelmingly in favour of the hesperian. What's more, other superb and largely original products of the West don't even have an Eastern analogue: Banksy, Laurie Lee, pixies, surfing, Morse, Thomas Hardy, pasties.
The significance of this division should be obvious. Due to its monotonous landscape, harsh weather, puritanical attitude to life, boring location and generally unimaginative and conformist natives, East is bad.
On the other hand, as it has a varied landscape, mild weather, a cavalier attitude to life, an interesting location and generally stimulating and off-beat natives, West is good.
So, the West is the best. Or as Swindon Town* fans sing 'West Coun'ry, la, la, la, West Coun'ry, la, la, la'. If we can get these categories sufficiently entrenched I aspire to be a professional Westerner: relaxed, liberal, outgoing and fun where your professional Northerner is uptight, parsimonious, chippy and miserable. But that's a battle for another day.
* A football club, which like others in the region is insignificant nationally.