In world terms my closest family are from a tiny area on the planet. Dialects within the United Kingdom are diverse and can vary dramatically within a short distance. My father’s family were from Shropshire and Kent. My mother’s from Birmingham and the Black Country.
My accent is heavily influenced by my relatives from the Black Country and Birmingham. I can still hear my mother saying: “Stop pithering about”, meaning “messing around” or “wasting time” and my grandfather saying “Ar” meaning yes as in “ar I am”. A popular method of transportation in Birmingham is the “buzz”.
One of the many sayings that originate from the home of my ancestors is an actual place. The Wrekin is a hill in East Shropshire. It gave birth to a popular phrase used in Wolverhampton and the West Midlands: “All around the Wrekin” meaning to take an indirect route to a location or to more commonly avoid getting to the point during a conversation.
In secondary school I landed the part of MacFarlane a Scottish Doctor in the play Hobson’s choice. A combination of not being able to master a scottish accent and having such a strong Brummie accent led the director to rename the character Dr Stonehouse, after a pub in Birmingham so that I could play the part in my native tongue.
I didn’t consider my accent a burden until in the last year of secondary school my family moved 25 miles south to Droitwich Spa, in the county of Worcestershire. This was the first time I was teased about the way I spoke. As if it were yesterday I remember the moment in a French lesson when In a broad Brummie accent I read Marie-France et Jean Paul vont en vacances en Espagne. I was rewarded with the waste paper bin bouncing off the back of my head much to the delight of my peers.
At the first opportunity I left home, to go to college in Blackpool. My studies took me further north on work placement to a Lake District hotel. This time my nemesis took the form of a Geordie, (person from Newcastle). They thought it was hilarious to repeat what I was saying with an exaggerated accent. “I’m going to the shall-eyes”. The chalets were two demountable buildings out the back of the hotel serving as staff accommodation.
I find it amusing when people realise I’m from England. I tell them how long I’ve lived in Australia and they say “you haven’t lost your accent”. I have no intention of losing my accent, but it is inevitable for me to pick up a bit of the local twang, “fair dinkum mate”.
The foundation of my accent was laid by my family; softened in response to peer pressure and has evolved by moving county and country.
Pet fish have featured for most of my life, Mozaic is featured above.