My husband has just called me. He had spent the night in Manchester having attended the Manchester Evening News Business of the Year awards dinner. N was up on stage presenting the last award after a fairly riotous evening in the best northern tradition. Anyway, seems that Jeremy Vine, as the celebrity host, was on stage with him - and just before N presented the last award in a decidedly upbeat and banter-filled atmosphere, old JV strides over to him beaming all over his face and says 'this is a good awards ceremony, isn't it!'
And you know what, that's one of the truly great things about living up here and a big difference between north and south (she says sweepingly) - they really know how to enjoy themselves and it's an immensely endearing quality. The south can be so self-conscious, so anonymous at times. Here you always feel part of the pack. There's a solidarity, I think, which comes out of this corner of England (true, I'm sure, of the north-east too). It will be born out of many things on which I can only speculate: being further away from the nation's capital the larger cities naturally forge their own identity (just like Bordeaux, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille - to name a few - in France); the relative harshness of the weather and the strong work ethic. This was the heart of the industrial revolution, after all. Certainly, there is a resilience to the people up here. Their feet seem firmly planted on the ground. No pretence. What you see is what you get.
And in the current economic climate, it is good to see something positive - to learn that hard work, dedication, determination, innovation can still pay dividends. It will be interesting to see if Jeremy mentions any of last night on his show later today.