It’s funny how stupid you are when you are young. Well, maybe just me.
When I was a wee lad growing up in small town southern Ontario, Canada I just thought everyone in other countries lived in the big cities I knew of. Merry old England lived entirely in London without any need for cottages in Yorkshire; the Japanese occupied only Tokyo and India was just one place. Had someone pointed out the irony of my ignorance, seeing as I lived in Canada but not Toronto, I probably would’ve been confused about the meaning of irony. Tastes like iron?
After I realized there were in fact other places to live other than major metropolises, I still clung to another laughably naïve assumption – these places all liked each other. Again, someone could’ve made the comparison between my household and a country and that not all family members get along despite being under the same banner, just the same as places in a country – but that would’ve blown my mind. I mean, I thought Canada was the only place where each part loathed the others.
I would dare to say there isn’t a country that exists that doesn’t feel this way – some go so far as to punctuate those words with weapons – but most places take a similar approach: “Those jerks in ______ think they’re better than us but we (fill in the blank about what is done better) better than all of them!” Except the Japanese. Even their regional animosity still comes out respectful and polite.
On my recent trip to Italy, I was more prepared for the regional tension than on earlier trips to other countries. Rome thinks Venice is a tourist trap. Venice thinks Florence is full of snobs. Florence thinks Rome is overrated. I see the merit in each criticism but you know most is just good natured bitching, particularly as people from one will holiday in the other. Living in Tourin but having a villa in Tuscany isn’t the end of the world.
The same goes for the U.K. but the ‘United’ makes the issue seem all the more glaring. Living in Liverpool means you’re an enemy of Manchester; London is hated by all and nobody thinks about Newcastle. Scotland is romanticized but seen as backwater; Northern Ireland is confused with Ireland (but you won’t make the mistake twice if you know what’s good for you), and then there’s Wales. Each place doesn’t like the others but holiday cottages Yorkshire Dales wouldn’t be turned down because they’re outside of their area. Who wants to be mad on vacation? Not I, said the cow.
So if you find yourself as ignorant as childhood me, you can take comfort in the fact that the regional rivalries you are familiar with at home also exist abroad. Enjoy!