Friday, February 07, 2014

Cheshire drawl

When I listen to this, it's like being briefly transported back to my childhood. 1972 was the year we went back to England. And then when we came back to Canada again, Grandma listened to Coronation Street every day.

(Note, in Grandma's house, we didn't watch, we "listened" to television programmes. The television was often referred to absentmindedly as the "wireless". When people wonder how I ended up being such a temporal anomaly, a walking anachronism one might say, five minutes glimpse into my upbringing would answer all questions. It's often the way with colonials, we tend to live in time-bubbles. While the mother country moved on, Victoria and the Island was stuck in a kind of temporal amber. Sadly, it's since broken free and caught up. There's no going back via that route, unfortunately.)

Accent is still a huge deal in Britain, with the way you speak marking you in both your region and your class. Children with an accent considered "lower class" or from an unfashionable region are still ridiculed and even bullied, and not by other kids, but by teachers! When this happened in the village school to one of my little cousins, who grew up in Blackburn, Lancashire, I was beside myself with rage, and had to be stopped from marching down to the school to tear a strip up one side his teacher and down the other.

With my Canadian accent, no one seemed to know where I fit, and it was rather nice because, being outside the scale, I was accepted by everyone.

In my family, that is to the very bottom of its collective gene pool from Cheshire and Manchester, I was a bit of an oddity. One of my cousins, known for his bluntness and at the age of about ten, I think, said one day, "Well, you're posh." I responded that it might be so, but it wasn't my fault. He graciously agreed.

But when I was little, I sounded pretty much exactly like this kid.

One day, I was riding the train into Rome and a big group of tourists came on and they all spoke with the Manchester accent, and I couldn't resist talking to them. We got on famously.



Anonymous said...

that little girl is adorable!

lovely accent. :)

Louise L

James C said...

I grew up just south of the Canadian border in New York State, and I get the same reaction here in England---curiosity and puzzlement. They can vaguely guess I'm a colonial, but they don't know which.

Incidentally, I've always had a soft spot for Canada, and not only because they generally provided my Loyalist great-great-great-great-grandfather and his family asylum for the duration of the Revolution after after he was released from prison in Boston (following the rebel victory of the Battle of Bennington in 1778). I still think we Yanks should have waited for Home Rule---but we've never been a patient people, have we?

James C said...

"Generally" should be "generously". Typing on one's phone can be frustrating.

BTW, have you been to Blackburn recently? Your cousin would recognise it today, alas.