North-South Divide

North-South Divide

In the later half of the decade there was a notable shift in the type of student arriving – these were louder, brasher, card-carrying Thatcher-youth. Weaned on The Sun, they were largely from the south, where their parents had indoctrinated them in the culture of right-to-buy, share ownership and mistrust of the unions. They worshipped at the shrine of Samantha Fox and Jim Davidson. Welcome to the Loadsamoney era. But the good times being enjoyed in London and the south of England had not yet filtered up north. We were immune to the mid-eighties property-grab and high street boom which so consumed the south of England. After the 1987 General Election there wasn’t a single Alan Beresford B’stard MP left in Greater Manchester, but nationally Labour were routed as Maggie completed her hat-trick. The Fred Perry/Pringle look so beloved by casual football hooligans was now adopted by Business Studies students – though thankfully they drew the line at carrying stanley knives. It was all about labels, money and front. Doing Fine Art or wearing a second-hand overcoat marked you down as the enemy within. In their pastel cardigans and David Coleman pullovers, these noisy Pet Shop Boy listening Thatcher-Jugend arrivistes clashed with the older militant leftovers of the miner-supporting rump. These they saw as lazy, sponging losers who weren’t prepared to ride their bicycles in the manner suggested by Norman Tebbit. The newcomers gobbled up shares in British Airways and BP and sneered at Neil Kinnock and Michael Foot. They had no interest in collecting glasses and emptying ash-trays or living in a horrible Crescent in Hulme. Instead Daddy would buy Ben and his mates a house on the Didsbury-Withington borderlands. Even then it was noted that you could buy three streets worth of terraced houses in Longsight for the same price as a three-bedroomed semi in Finchley. When they graduated they could fill the house with immigrants and spend the profits on a gap year before joining the Management Trainee Scheme at Vickers. What a wizzard plan. ‘I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the looks – let’s make lots of money’.

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