A puckish friend who glories in being a bit older and wiser than most still reckons The Three Rs of his schooldays stood for Ration Books, Rickets and Ringworm.

He came a bit more up to date on our last meeting by dropping this questions down the well of homely chunter… without waiting to hear the splash: “ Is there a North- South Divide in Norfolk?”

It makes a useful parting shot for someone keen to avoid key issues in the great debate about our county’s future. Living on the edge of North Norfolk  for well over 30 years leaves me slightly short of immediate comparisons.

I can recall pre-pandemic missionary work in the likes of Banham, Blo’ Norton and Bressingham underlining significant differences on the socio-economic front but I can’t vouch for the current warmth of relations between Bodham and Burston, Sheringham and Shelfanger, Wells and Wacton.

I suspect we still get more holidaymakers beside the sea. Are there any second homes in Carleton Rode or North Lopham?

Do they get celebrity chefs around the fleshpots of Tivetshall St Mary? Is there a posh hat shop in Tibenham? Can you get fresh crabs in Wilby?  

Frankly, most people afforded a choice avoid the functional grimness of the A140 road, even when cowslips and primroses adorn its verges and so deny themselves opportunities to be impressed by fair Forncetts or pretty Pulhams.

That ugly scar right down the middle must be a ploy to protect southern communities from excesses their northern neighbours take for granted, especially on a packed holiday beat.

You don’t find many charabancs of Beeston Regis revellers pulling in for a pint at Fersfield.

However, you can easily pick out a Kenninghall or New Buckenham accent on a busy day in a Burnham Market bistro. So they tell me.

Of course, there are several little spanners to throw in the geographical works before any clear decision can be made about the size of any cultural  divide or vast geographical gap.

For a start, Northwold is in Norfolk and has little in common with Southwold, star of the Suffolk coast, selling itself as “Cromer with an A-level.”

North Elmham is in Norfolk. South Elmham is in Suffolk.

North Walsham and South Walsham are both in Norfolk, but a considerable distance from each other. The North version is bracing itself for 1800 new homes to the west of town carrying a catchy label of “sustainable urban extension”.

To make life a little simpler, Northrepps has close diplomatic ties with Southrepps. North Creake exchanges pleasantries with South Creake next door. North Pickenham is still on nodding acquaintance with South Pickenham if the wind’s in the right direction.

Encouraging signs of peaceful co-existence -- but what about the bigger picture? Does one part of the county really care what goes on in another?

Could Reepham give a hoot if Attleborough doubled in size overnight? Will Aylsham celebrate if Long Stratton gets a bypass to go with a few hundred more houses and its own traffic warden and community cohesion officer?

Was Thorpe Parva jealous when John Major found a coastal refuge at Weybourne?

My feeling is we are locked in to certain perceptions and it will take  much more than another local government revolution, like getting rid of district councils or any other layer of local democracy, to encourage a wider outlook.

North Norfolk exudes a superior air fashioned out of the well-heeled retired and trendy visitors who can read a menu in three languages.

That hackneyed epithet “Chelsea-on- Sea” embraces a recession-proof belief in certain areas, and plenty of others are keen to bask in reflected glory when the going gets tough.

South Norfolk has a far more workmanlike approach to life, with Norwich jobs on one side and Ipswich delights on the other. Commuters to London compare notes at Diss and then return to their rural sanctuaries for allotments, real ale and amateur dramatics.

A mystery outing to the seaside is an annual treat.

I may have missed the odd “Home Rule for Knapton” rally and nude paintballing adventures in woods near Gissing but these little pen pictures largely sum up the North-South Divide. 

Cromer & Co will be perfectly happy to see a major share of even more of the county’s housing development plonked on any remaining rolling acres either side of the A140.

Diss & Co will be equally pleased to count a whirl of new windfarms off the Sheringham coast as soon as green gods give another nod.

That shouldn’t affect the flow of fresh crabs into Wilby.

Horses for courses, perhaps, until glossy magazine editors decree it’s time to uncover the next seriously stylish spot on the Norfolk map.

Sleepy backwaters down south can be transformed into places where everyone wants to be seen and heard.

We’ll know that notorious gap is dwindling when a new seafood restaurant opens in Bunwell and Scole is rechristened Academy.

A posh nightclub will liven up Thelveton. Frenze must welcome new neighbours carrying copies of Vogue and Tatler’

Who knows, it could be just a matter of time before decimalisation finally reaches Winfarthing and Quidenham..