When I moved to Yorkshire at the age of ten (well, not on my own, it was a family thing), I heard a lot of comments about what life was like ‘in the South’, and about the people who lived there.

Which was interesting, because I’d never thought of myself as living in any place with a particular allegiance or whatever, it was just, as a child might think, where I lived, and the people who lived there, just, er, lived there. Living there didn’t seem like some kind of allegiance to a patricular way of life, it was, at that age, just what my life was like.

So I was often kind of nonplussed at remarks people made about ‘southerners’ (though I’d be lying if I pretended that every single remark didn’t in some way, inform my growing body of opinions about ‘northerners’), particularly the comment that the father of a girl I was seeing in my teen years made about my family having moved to the North so we could have a bigger house. Yes, that’ll have been the rationale for the move – embarrassingly, my parents didn’t go the whole hog and move to Scotland, where we could presumably have had an estate like something out of Monarch Of The Glen, but hey you can’t have it all, I guess.

A lot of these comments were, it has to be said, pretty ill-informed, and I know people who’ve moved from the city to a more bucolic life only to be on the receiving end of comments about ‘townies not knowing the ways of the country’ (though apparently people who’ve grown up on a farm and rarely left the village have some kind of innate understanding of the ways of the urban metropolis and its dwellers).

The point I’m trying – and probably failing – to make is that all too often our opinions of other people and their lives are based more on guesswork and suspicion (and in some cases fear) than actual, material facts. I’m almost certainly as guilty of this as everyone else… actually, I take that back, and point you towards a rather fascinating collation of information:

Depiction of BNP membership overlap with non-white populations in the UK

… now, I’d prefer to think I’m less prone to the ‘making up reasons to dislike people without actually knowing if the reasons are true’ tendency that this image suggests your average BNP member is guilty of, but I think you can see my underlying point: the vast majority of BNP members, it would seem, hold their opinions about non-white people with only very limited knowledge about what they’re actually like. I suspect it’s that fear of ‘other’ that somehow gives rise to the dislike, and creates what is, in the strict sense of the word, pre-judice.

Anyway, the site I swiped that link from is run by a chap called David McCandless. There are many similarly interesting conglomerations of information on the rest of his site, it’s worth your time.

But to end this post on a note which is probably less contentious than issues of race or north versus south, and which I found unintentionally very amusing, I’d like to illustrate my general point with a comment made by a friend of mine when were chatting about at school, and which harks back to yesterday’s post in a way; he said, and these were his exact words,

“I’ve never read any books by Stephen King, because they’re all shit.”

(Simon – or, indeed, Mr K: if you’re reading this, I disagreed then, and I still disagree now, okay?)