1. Whichever small, unassuming, unknown town you’re from you refer to it as the Shire on social media. “Back to the Shire this weekend”. “Who’s around in the Shire tonight”. Like Bilbo and Frodo before, you’re aware that there are bigger, scarier places out there than your little hometown.
2. And as NO-ONE (unless they’re actually from your town and the eight surrounding villages) has heard of where you live you have to pick the nearest big city when explaining where you’re from. Even if you’ve never been there and it’s over 45mins away and not actually in the same county. When they still don’t know you just sigh and tell them to google map it.
3. And then people always respond by naming a place that sounds similar but is completely different. FYI Devon and Dorset are DIFFERENT COUNTIES. Good for you that your Gran lives in Torquay that has zero relevance to me being from Dorset and thus I shall always reply…OH.
4. There is only one local nightclub to go to (although it isn’t ACTUALLY in your town, no, your town only has 4 pubs…the club is instead a 15 minute drive to the next town) BUT they welcome under eighteens with open arms. So long as you don’t throw up on the toilet floor, you tun up bang on 9pm when the doors open, wearing as much makeup as possible and a really, really low-cut top with push up bra and finally you order a Southern Comfort & Lemonade because that’s what GROWN UPS drink (isn’t it?) – so at least try to pretend you’re one.
5. You totally rule the roost at said nightclub (or so you think), rolling in with your posse like you own the place and having a dance off with anyone who disagrees. You know EVERYONE including the bouncers (who’ve denied you entry about 6352 times) and for those people you don’t know, well they get given really imaginative nicknames like “white tie guy” (for the guy who turns up every week in a thick knotted, wide as it is long shiny white tie…give him a break, he is only 16 after all.)
6. For weekends that you aren’t doing an impression of the youngest looking eighteen year olds EVER it means a field, some decks, a crappy sound system, all the boys in your year at school thinking they’re Andy C laying down some bad D’n’B and you getting wasted on White Lightening until you’re sick in a hedge.
7. Going to the cinema is only possible if your mum drives you or until the oldest person in your group passes their driving test and lets you in their clapped out Nova. You could get the train but only once an hour, meaning you’d probably miss the start of the film anyway AND your mum would still have to drop you off and pick you up from the station because buses from your town to the next town with a train station (train stations and nightclubs too fandangled for your quaint town), didn’t really run on a regular or at all useable basis.
8. With no cinema, shopping centre or nice place to hang out in the evenings the Skate Park or any park is THE place to chill on a Friday night. Mainly when you can’t get into your local club because you bumped into the girl who works on the door in town while wearing your school uniform #FAIL.
9. When you are finally old enough to properly frequent the local pubs you regularly bump into either your school teachers, your parents friends or even worse…your Mum and Dad.
10. Sleeping in tent totally doesn’t faze you. You and your mates have been camping since forevs, where else were you all meant to stay after that Keraaaazy field party. That said somehow you always end up sneaking into your mates house a la Goldilocks and sleeping in the best bed you can find…even if that does mean the sofa or worse, the tub…at least it’s warm(ish).
11. Young Farmers Club DISCO. You aren’t a member of their SUPER COOL club (you couldn’t tell a combine harvester from a regular tractor) but you sure as hell gatecrash all their under-18 discos.
12. Despite NOT being a member of the YFC everyone you meet from a big city asks you if you drive a tractor to school and then proceed to sing The Wurzels at you like it’s the MOST ORIGINAL JOKE IN THE WORLD.
13. Mobile phone signal is a mythical creature that appears when you least expect it (NEVER).
14. You know the wonders of a big stick and making it through a field of cows alive.
15. Country walks are totally transformed when you realise that those metal cylinder things that cows eat out of can be turned onto their sides to become GIANT HAMSTER WHEELS! Which is all fun and games until the farmer’s wife comes running out to the field to tell you off. At which point you sprint home and set fire to the jumper you’ve been wearing just in case she called the police (who also happens to be you neighbour) and they come looking for you.
16. You retell any mild claim to fame at every opportunity. Madonna once buy her birthday flowers from the local florist or Robbie Williams check into the rehab centre down the road or perhaps a famous advert about a loaf of bread was filmed on Gold Hill…all of these are trotted out whenever anyone asks you where you’re from.
17. If you’ve since moved away from the countryside you can’t understand how people live there any more and genuinely wonder what it is they do at the weekends…no pop-up restaurants, no secret cinema, no impromptu music festival, no thousand and one things to choose from on the TimeOut website. Still you miss it with crippling ferocity when you’re squidged in on the sweaty central line come Monday morning vowing to relocate when the tube breaks down for the 4th time that week and you’re forced to wait for the bus where a tramp drinking special brew (at 7am) tries to lick you.
18. If you still live in the countryside you think London is TERRIFYING and the tube map a maze. Plus the people who live there are rude and always in a rush HOWEVER when you do visit you constantly tag in @The Ritz @Buckingham Palace @Harrods @Harvey Nichols just so everyone back home knows what A FABULOUS time you’re having up in London dahhhhling.
19. Popping into ‘town’ to do some shopping means that you can only return home with a limited number of not always useful items that include: strawberry bon-bons, a crystal duck, something from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, miniature furniture for a doll’s house, a card for any occasion and cheese straws.
20. If you’ve grown up in the countryside then horses, goats, chickens and sheep are really run of the mill pets.
21. One night of the year, the whole town turns out for the annual town Carnival. You all stand in the pissing rain outside the pub with your plastic cups and watch pushy parents force miserable children into hilariously stupid costumes and onto a float that is, quite frankly, a fire hazard waiting to happen. You laugh and jeer, the YFC reign supreme towing all the floats through the town and then you wonder why YOU were never chosen as Carnival Princess. Later you pelt a clown face with 2 pence pieces and scavengers collect the dropped coins for themselves before you all head to the fair where travelling gypsies rip you off by charging a fiver to go on the unsafest ride you’ve ever seen. It truly is a highlight of everyone’s year.
22. On Christmas Eve everyone you’ve ever known gathers at the same pub in town and you all spend the whole night having awkward catch-ups with people who’s Facebook friend requests you’ve been ignoring. HOWEVER this is still one of your favourite nights of the year as you’re back with other people who understand EXACTLY what it’s like to have grown up in the countryside. You all get pissed together, end up at THAT nightclub (even though you said you’d never go to again) and scream Wizard’s ‘I wish it could be Christmas everyday’ as the clock strikes midnight.
23. Holidays for you are rarely a staycation…you’re not a bunch of city dwellers that escape to Cornwall for a jolly…in fact your own bloody back garden is probably National Trust protected. A short walk from your front door and you find yourself at a picturesque and peaceful valley or overlooking a hive of natural beauty. No, this is home not a holiday.
24. BUT still – you NEVER tire of the views…oh the views.