Think you don’t have an Accent? Think Again!

A recent poll in The Independent newspaper revealed that the British accent is the most popular in the world.

This is an odd piece of news. For a start, who is to say what, exactly a British accent is? There are many. There is Geordie, West Country, Scottish, Brummie, Northern Irish, Kentish, Cockney, Liverpudlian, Welsh, East Anglia, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Home Counties and many more besides…

Within the areas there are also differences in accent. A trip around Scotland, Yorkshire or Birmingham would expose a plethora of differing sounds in words.

Presumably the ‘British’ accent of the study is ‘BBC’ style, although even in an organisation as large as this there have been attempts in recent years to get regional accents on to the airwaves rather than the plummy tones of yesteryear.

While it is surprising to learn that the French accent is less of a draw, it is no real shock that the Queen’s English is admired around the world. Many years ago I undertook a road trip along the West of the USA with a friend-my first jaunt to America and one that I considered intrepid, given that I would be driving an automatic car on vast freeways and attempting to join the LA traffic and cliff-hangers of San Francisco.

Part of our home made itinerary took in a trip to Las Vegas, which involved travelling across the desert. We’d scheduled in stops, one of which was at Victorville, a kind of truck stop on Route 66. We’d found a hotel [on our budget we were confined to the cheaper chains], dumped the bags but at that point, although we’d driven all day in sweaty heat, a beer seemed more compelling than a shower.

We found a simple, no frills bar which was occupied mainly with workers, mainly male, enjoying a drink after their day’s labours. The arrival of two English women provoked enormous interest, so much that we were unable to buy our own beers and were interrogated on every aspect of our personas and our trip. This, incidentally included a query as to whether we met the age criterion for alcohol [most flattering, since I was 40 at the time]. The flattery continued. ‘Ah luuuurv yer aaahccent!’ one of the admirers drawled. This threw me. Having moved about the country quite a bit throughout childhood I consider myself accent-less. ‘I don’t have have an accent, you do!’ I replied.

Every country, of course has regional accents but you have to be well versed in another language to recognise them. After many years of regular trips to France I still struggle to understand the Southern French tones, and even here in my own homely island much that is spoken with a Scottish twang escapes me-notably post match inquests from football managers etc

I don’t really have a ‘favourite’ although I must confess to there being one or two I really do not like. What are they? Not saying! What’s your favourite?

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The Best Possible Taste?

                During periods at home it is a rare week that passes without our moseying along to see and hear some live music, and most weeks we’ll go at least twice. Out and about travelling of course it is a different story, with the tiny music player and speakers having to fill in the gap. [This is when some slight differences in musical taste kick in between myself and Husband-usually addressed by me listening to Coldplay during snatched moments while he showers].

                It is a mark of how much I’ve altered, I suppose, that I no longer listen to music radio in my car, preferring the diversions of talk radio these days. Years ago I’d have listened to music during most of my spare hours, but now I often prefer silence, or birdsong, or any of those lyrical, whimsical sounds poets bang on about.

                As a teenager of the mid to late sixties [we babyboomers always like to boast this is the best, the only era for music]-I got my fix in regular doses of essential listening like ‘Pick of the Pops’ on Sunday evenings, when the entire chart would be played to exceedingly naff presentation of Alan Freeman, who called us ‘pop pickers’ [as opposed to pickpockets, perhaps]. In the beginning, one of my brothers and myself would record it all on a reel to reel tape recorder, whilst simultaneously writing each song in a notebook with a diligence we did not apply to homework . We were banished to a cold room. Later, when I was left as the lone teenager I continued to be banished in order to listen, although I’d given up the recording by then.

                A great disappointment to my classical music loving father [he called it seeerious music], I glued myself mulishly to TV’s ‘Top of the Pops’ each Thursday evening. [Sadly its reputation is now tarnished by the grim revelations about one of its presenters]. My parents didn’t ‘get’ it, displaying all the cliché ridden behaviour of the era-‘you can’t tell whether they are boys or girls’ [of the long haired band members], or ‘what a racket!’

                Once, in a rare moment of watching, my father turned to me triumphant during the climax of the number one single and shouted, “I LIKE this one!” I remember my despair. It was the odious, banal and stubbornly popular ‘Silence is Golden’ by the hideous Tremeloes.

                Another time they returned from a weekend away proudly bearing a gift, at a time when I’d just bought ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ by new, progressive band, Cream. They’d gone to a record shop all by themselves [they boasted] and asked the salesperson what was ‘number 1’? “because she’s bound to like that one” What was it? It was ‘This is the Captain of Your Ship’ by Reperata and the Delrons. If you’ve ever heard this you will understand my teenage emotions. I may have managed to play it once, to satisfy their proud smiles. It all demonstrates how parents misunderstand teenagers.

                Now I realise how lucky I am to live within a cycle or a short bus ride away from a whole range of music venues showcasing a broad spectrum of local, talented musicians and I could probably enjoy a different act and genre every night of the week-if I had the energy. Better still, our local music festival takes place next month-about which, more anon!