My Life as a NIPPLE 1: An Introduction

“So you’re a Nipple then?”

I’d barely been sat at the desk in my first job in Edinburgh when this question was asked. I wondered what insinuation I was missing out on. Was there something about my appearance that indicated a certain sexual kink ? Quickly I checked my attire to ensure that my chest had not inexplicably become exposed.

Obviously none of this took place quickly enough. Or the blank look of confusion gave it away. After all my inquisitor was a social worker and new colleague, she was bound to pick up on such facial and bodily nodes. She went on and explained, “Northern Ireland Professional Person Living Elsewhere.”

The penny dropped and relief washed over me. I did wonder how after 8 years in London, that upon that day 8 years ago just starting out in Scotland, that this was the first time I’d heard the acronym. But then I realised that it was incredibly true. You can take the boy out of Norn Iron, but you can’t take Norn Iron out of the boy.

So I started to reflect. I used to leave London with a Ulster accent to land at Belfast with a London accent. I’d once trudged the whole way across London to Kilburn to get to an Irish bakery to get my soda bread and potato farls for a St. Patrick’s day breakfast treat, only for my local Tesco to start stocking both items weeks later. When I worked taking customer service calls I used to love hearing that a postcode started BT as then I knew I could talk “normal like” and not in some sort of clipped universally understandable tongue. So there clearly was a part of me that was forever where I grew up.

Some of you back home have already picked up occasional items from my political blog they even appear in the odd Blogburst here. But this column will reflect more on the cultural differences us yer man and yer woman or Norn Iron will face while living or working elsewhere. Of course being heavily involved in politics I can guarantee that it will pop up from time to time, either in passing comment or as the subject for that week. However, this is a little bit of light relief for me and hopefully rather fun/informative/readable [delete any that are not applicable] for the readers of Slugger. So thanks to Mike for hosting this I hope you enjoy the ride. Trust me over 16 years of living on the British mainland there is plenty to come.

I was considering some background biographical details for this intro. But realised it will probably be more intriguing and a greater surprise to the reader as I meander through my experiences to probably break down some stereotypes as I go. For the record this wasn’t written during the first half of the Ireland v England game even if I will be submitting it during half time and it may have been a better use of time.

  • Eddie

    Anyone who talks about “mainland” Mr Glenn infuriates me, and I’m not a republican. The mainland of what, exactly?

    Do explain.

  • Come on steinbrenner Fire Me!

    The Mainland is where the overpaying, cheating Bronx bastard scum come from!

  • picador

    Ah welcome back to Norn Iron, Stephen.

    I know from personal experience that it’s easy enough to fool yourself into thinking that the centre of the universe is in big ol’ London town but it’s actually located somewhere close to Lough Neagh.

    And Eddie, you never know, perhaps he’s just returned from the Cuillin Hills, from Tobermory or from the distilleries of Islay. But in any case, he should know better than to wind up the natives here. 😉

  • Turgon

    Welcome to slugger

  • Shore Road Resident

    Didn’t Glenn Patterson do this returning “ex-pat’ thing to death, like, 15 years ago?
    We’ve been through a whole immigrant-driven boom since. Get over yourself.

  • Stephen Glenn

    Hi folks I’m not returned from the current stint I’m still a Nipple.

    I did say the British mainland Eddie which correctly comprises England, Scotland and Wales as I have yet to live on any of the island’s [but I remember how much more careful I will have to be with my language here ;)]. Even though I know full well it is correctly the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland.

    But thanks for the welcome I promise to be more careful with terminology next time.

    (And I though appeasing the SNP, Scotish Tories and Labour was bad enough lol)

  • McGrath

    Jaysus, take is easy on the new lad.

  • Mark McGregor

    There’s no acronym for me a content, ulsterman, not for traveling. I’ll have to think of one.

    Welcome aboard, Stephen. Can I ask how you pronounced ‘eight’ in the call centre.

  • Stephen Glenn

    Mark that would depend who I was talking to…more on that later. 🙂

    Film or course is always two syllables no matter what the English think.

  • Mark McGregor


    I’ve done my time in few call centres and ‘eight’ was always a toughie. I can recall saying to a German “Listen! 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,EIGHT!!!, did you get that? 8! The number 8!” He was still confused so I ended up going with nein, null, sechs, sechs, seben, acht, acht, drei.

    Still, it was more amusing than someone with estuary drawl asking yet again; ‘ Ate, you ate wot?’

  • Harry Flashman

    What about the letter “H”? That’s always a giveaway.

    By the way ‘film’ does indeed have two syllables and ‘mirror” has only one.

  • AyeRight

    Call center employees are now classed as professionals? Wise up.

    As for calling England ‘the mainland’, that’s quite sad really.

  • circles

    Oh dear – will these forthcoming threads give me more cause to take a redner, I wonder?
    “Mainland” landed like a boot below the belt but that may be because I’m an IPPLE (no N thanx) from belfast.
    Now there is a chance that I might be a NIPPLE but only if people from donegal are NIPPLEs too – or would I be a NEIPPLE and they would be NWIPPLEs? And all that might only be if I needed to distinguish myself from the SIPPLEs (from either the east or west). Or we could talk generally of WIPPLEs, SIPPLEs, EIPPLEs and NIPPLEs.
    The point being that moreso even than the idiotic use of the word “mainland”, the term NIPPLE is in itself completely daft. Northern Ireland Person? Hmmmmm – would that be the same as a 6 County Person or rather refer to the north of the island and thus could be used for Ulster Person.

    On the other hand, it could actually be interesting all this if read under the title “An ulster unionists experience of life and work in Great Britain”.

  • Reader

    circles: The point being that moreso even than the idiotic use of the word “mainland”
    Let’s see where the disconnect is:
    The UK exists, yes?
    Northern Ireland is part of the UK, yes?
    Examination of any map of the UK will clearly show that there is a mainland part, yes? I suppose it contains about 90% of the land area of the UK, and an even higher proportion of its population.
    So, it isn’t ‘idiotic’ to refer to the mainland, it is just the term that’s appropriate where the context is the UK. If you don’t want to play, then don’t. But there’s no need for the name calling.

  • Eddie

    Well, I’m not a republican, and the term “mainland” is offensive to me. I find it’s used by Englishmen and the more extreme type of Unionist.

  • Welcome to Slugger – with all this talk about nipples, maybe you’ll be the page 3 columnists in the redesign.

    Re: “mainland” – so much easier to call it that rather than GB or England/Scotland/Wales.

    Is calling the rest of Europe “the continent” a similar faux pas?

  • Eddie

    Au contraire, one would have thought it would be
    a) EASIER to call it GB; and b)less likely to cause anyone to bristle!

  • gadgie

    I Think the term Mainland is offensive too. The IRA bombed the mainland not. They only bombed England.

  • BonarLaw

    “the more extreme type of Unionist”

    As opposed to what? You cannot be slightly unionist anymore than one can be slightly pregnant.

    Anyhow, I’m of to book my summer holiday on the mainland given the expense of Ireland.

  • circles

    Whereabouts in Europe are you off to then BonarLaw? (I assume thats what you meant then by mainland…)