Anyone who knows me, knows I love Cumbria. There’s no river like a Cumbrian beck, chuckling its way over rounded pebbles; no mountain as proud as Blencathra (loosely translated as Hill of the Devil) (or Saddleback as it’s known). The greens, the blues, and the different hues for different moods … I love Cumbria.
Cumbrians are another matter. I have noticed in my four adult years of living in the county of my upbringing that there is a worrying incidence of bullying that I never noticed in Yorkshire. Sure, I would get or see the odd occasion, and some people draw it – never thought I was one of those – but I’m sure I didn’t see it so often. I checked this out with a Yorkshireman today and he agreed with me. In Yorkshire you can say what you think and people respect you for it. In Cumbria, if you say what you think, some people treat you with suspicion and might even single you out for reasons known only to themselves.
Here, I have seen it several times in different work places, in offices and homes. I have become collateral damage occasionally, because I refuse to roll over and I tend to support the underdog. Sometimes people who are quite high up lower themselves to take part in or even initiate the bullying.
I have observed that the power of letting agencies over their tenants leads directly to bullying, almost in an institutionalised sense, as if that is the way it has always been and it should be so.
People in the backwoods bully their neighbours in any respect where they have some kind of power; access to the road, or to water, or electricity. More money, even.
People turning up on the doorsteps of relatives and making threats, following the death of an elder and the ‘unfair’ decisions of a will.
Former colleagues ganging up and jeering at another who they treat as thick because she struggles to take in information. It was excrutiating. This from people who by their own admissions are unable to use a computer! Embarrassing doesn’t even cover it.
Don’t get me wrong; not everyone here is a bully – of course not! But the high incidence baffles me. I suspect it comes down to a combination of poor education, the parochialism of living in the same small town or valley your whole life, and some kind of inferiority complex. “She thinks she’s better than me. Well she’s not. I’ll show her. I’ve lived round here way longer than her. She can’t just come in and be better.” The traits seem to be usually of someone who appears to think they are better than others around them, trying to prove they are cleverer by pointing out how stupid certain individuals are. It isn’t big and it isn’t clever and by god, I didn’t realise that adults spend their lives doing this kind of thing!
I know some really lovely people – these are whom I prefer to have in my life and I work very hard to preserve their friendships … It is possible: you can be Cumbrian and wonderful. It’s the usual sad tale of a minority causing everyone to be tarred with the same brush, and quite frankly, I’m disappointed.
Offensive rant over.