I was watching the Mo Mowlam film last night. I thought Julie Walters was very convincing as Mo, but the dialogue for the Northern protagonists was stilted and unconvincing.

I think the North suffers from a sort of crisis of representation: its inhabitants are frequently infantilised and caricatured in cultural production and public discourse, and people who are from there often get caught up in this activity too as a way of marking themselves out as normal.

David Adams, I think, made the point that Northern Protestants in the aftermath of the Iris Robinson affair were subjected to crude stereotyping by people who would never dream of doing the same thing with any other group. I think he’s right.

I’m not saying I know what Northern Protestants are really like; I don’t know what they’re like, just as I don’t know what Northern Catholics are really like either, and I know a lot of both very well. But there’s always this impulse at large to lasso each group under some set of defining characteristics. I get sick of it.

LRB · Anne Enright · Diary

The story of the Troubles became the only story in the North for 30 years, but there were other more normal things going on. Sex was one of them, shopping was another. Southern Irish people have always known this. When the wind changes and the exchange rate is right, they come down to Dublin to do it: Northern women are demon shoppers.

It’s just not true that shopping was a normal thing during ‘the Troubles’: unless you count having your bags checked by a security guard any time you entered a department store or shopping centre, or evacuating said establishments on account of a bomb scare, as normal events. There were many women who stayed away from Belfast city centre on account of the fear of bombs going off: I even know of one woman who even refused hospital treatment, which would have involved trips to Belfast, on account of this fear. It only became ‘normal’ after the ceasefire. As for Northern women being ‘demon shoppers’, this is pure nonsense. Women also go North when the exchange rate is right, but no-one would the need to refer to Southern women -if such a group exists en masse– as ‘demon shoppers’ on this basis.


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