Tuesday, 23 February 2016


The young fogey put me in mind of accents, regional accents, the various "modern" accents, and so on. Mr Beeler had uploaded a video of some bimbo girl of my generation complaining about people who support Donald Trump, and then welling up about these same people, who apparently view immigrants as subhuman (many of them often are; as Húrin appositely said of the Easterlings, who "immigrated" into Dor-lómin, "they have learned more swiftly from the orcs than we have from the fair folk."). But before we get sidetracked, Mr Beeler noted that her accent was very modern and a clear generational and class giveaway. I daresay. In the days when I went to Corpus Christi church in Covent Garden every week I used to know a man who had a very distinct East End, "cockney" accent. I mentioned him to someone else, just in idle conversation, and my friend (who also knew him) said that Mr East End was, perhaps, a man of the last generation of the "true" cockney accent (the man was an octogenarian), and that with unchecked immigration, and other demographic revolutions visited, especially, upon London, traditional regional accents were disappearing and replaced by a new, uniform, cosmopolitan accent championed by the BBC. Traditional accents are now embarrassing and almost comic to the cosmopolitan types. Whenever they cross roads with somebody like Mr East End, they invariably think that he might have escaped from some Dickensian musical like "Oliver!" Do we lament the disappearance of regional accents? Do we take the position of Professor Higgins in Pygmalion? I tend to go with my father, who once said: "I wish people didn't talk so much like wogs nowadays!"

Of course, I am not entirely immune from this generational phenomenon myself. Last year I met a young man from America who reads my blog. He described my accent as "slightly posh," by which he meant, I think, that I don't talk like most people of my generation. And this is true. I've heard it said of me in my menial job that people think I am "stuck up," which I am not, but I gather, given the known principle that a man's voice and bearing give away more about his class and generation than he can conceal, that this is to do with my accent, what (little) I say, and to an extent my upright posture (I was a dancer; no slouching here!). But nobody can say that I put on airs! You won't find me walking into a pub and ordering a Pinot Grigio in a put-on Received Pronunciation but barely-concealed Essex accent, as I witnessed Sir Les Patterson an old traditionalist acquaintance do once. When the mini bottle with the screw top came, my comment "I never realised you were such a 'coin-a-saur'" fell upon deaf ears. Does that make me a snob? Am I aloof? Or do I just say what I mean and mean what I say? I am resigned to the fact that I could never pass as a human being. I used to think that being queer was the chief thing that separated me from the rest of humanity but I was mistaken; it's popular to be "gay" nowadays. I now realise that I am just different, from the thoughts in my head even to my very marrow. My voice is just a part of that.

Maybe I'll make a video one of these days. I'm sure you're all dying to know what I sound like!


  1. The ideas about Neanderthal DNA on the internet are a little out there, but it would sure explain things. Somehow, right along with the cultural Marxism, maybe they've managed to teach people to hate us for our DNA.

  2. And to your credit you have a decent ear for accents. I've been living in England for 3 years, and it's very rare that people guess I'm American. Usually they guess Ireland (ridiculous) or sometimes Canada (much closer to the mark, as I grew up in northern New York). Immediately upon the opening of my mouth, however, you could tell.

    I have a strong regional accent that I 'lost' before I even moved to England (of course I could speak it at any time, just as any educated working-class Yorkshireman does when he goes home for a visit). But living in other parts of America, I only half-consciously moved into something more neutral to gain respectability and intelligibility (and avoid ridicule).

    Interestingly, even that way of speaking has changed a bit since I moved here (so say my friends back in America). But I don't make any conscious effort to do that---it is only the natural effect of being surrounded by dull middle-class people in Cambridge.

    You do sound different than most 20-something Englishmen from the environs of Greater London, and 'slightly posh' is an apt description as your way of speaking feels quite natural and unaffected. It is eccentric, in a good way...like Tolkien's.

  3. I suggest coming from a family with a Yorkshire father educated at a public school during World War II and a mother with a lilting Surrey accent, then living in France for thirty years so that the accent can become a caricature of itself. Quite naturally and great fun!

    1. That does strike me as a variegated, lilting, patrician accent! But when I met you father I could tell something of your background in the North. As I write that I am reminded of what Tolkien said about Samwise Gamgee in Farmer Maggot's house, that he had a "natural suspicion" of other inhabitants of the Shire; that it, hobbits who lived beyond Hobbiton and Bywater. Or Sam's old Gaffer about the Ringwraith: "he spoke funny." I'm not suggesting that you have a funny accent but I could tell you weren't by any means a Londoner.