Not all those who wander are lost

The British Library have these new posters all over London:

I love them, even though I usually am lost.

I spoke to my little sister last Friday. ‘I’m back,’ She announced. I hadn’t realised she had been away, but I’m socially flawless, so I quickly said, ‘From away,’ In an authoritative tone. My little sister ignored me (she is much less socially flawless) and told me how much she was enjoying Caitlin Moran’s book, ‘How to be a Woman’. ‘I’m seeing Caitlin tonight,’ I replied. There was a short pause. (Another example of my little sister’s difficulty in abiding to the normal limits of social politeness). ‘Why do you always do this?’ She whined. (See- I told you- no manners whatsoever. Luckily, I had the social graces to carry us forward). She’s one of the guests on Stuart Maconie’s event. It’s at the British Library. You can come if you want.’ ‘I’m in Manchester,’ My little sister said crossly. ‘I live here.’

Annoyingly, she wasn’t lying. She does live in Manchester, but like most snotty Londoners, I find it difficult to accept that there’s anything that really, actually exists outside of the tube map.

Ironically, the talk, entitled ‘The Boys Aren’t Back in Town’ was a discussion of place, identity and ambition and the women who were talking were Laura Barton, Grace Dent, Lauren Laverne, Caitlin Moran and Miranda Sawyer, all of whom moved to London from the mythical ‘regions’.

As expected, the talk was interesting, intelligent and entertaining- a particular highlight for me was Lauren Laverne explaining how her kids (born and brought up in London) have a different accent from her. ‘Why do you talk funny, Mummy?’ They ask. ‘Is it because you’re Sunderlish?’

I feel Lauren’s kids and I have the same, delightfully inclusive views on ‘away’- by which, of course, we mean anywhere we can’t locate on the tube map. Although, after Stuart’s event, I feel well-equipped to venture to ‘the North’- or at least as though I might survive my time there. Almost. Though perhaps I shouldn’t reply to what I am assured are ‘cheerful Northern locals’ who ask if I need help by telling them sternly, ‘Not all those who wander are lost’.



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