“She’s built like a tank; tattooed all over; wears Doc Martin’s and a nose stud and colours her hair… pink. But the worst thing is… she spits like a bloke!”
Yes, that was how my husband described me to his work colleagues. And they believed him. To put the record straight, I’m less than 5 feet small, weigh 7 stone 10lbs; do so very NOT spit, and the rest of me is totally non-descript…
Until I open my mouth.
No, I don’t have dragon’s breath, or extra sharp canines affiliated to mammalian oral anatomy. I am not the owner of a forked tongue and neither do I swear and cuss. But I do possess… wait for it, ‘a reight bloomin’ ‘orrible accent.’ And I hate it!
Broad Yorkshire ‘speak’ is, to me at least, rough, even brash sounding; ‘common as muck’ and in my opinion makes me sound dumb; thick; duh! And of course those questionable attributes could well apply. But because of the way I sound, I’m conscious when hobnobbing with ‘posh people’ such as those southerners, although it’s likely that they’re not too bright either. But the fact that they speak with a plum in the mouth makes the difference.
Yorkshire is the UK’s largest county, yet even within its own regional boundaries the accent changes remarkably. Strangely, people living outside the county hardly notice. I’ve been accused of being a Geordie from the north/east; Scottish--though I don’t eat haggis. Yuk! And even Irish.
I’m blaming the Celtic ancestry for my unladylike vowels and distinctly un-angelic, less than lilting timbre. But one redeeming feature is that the famous Bronte sisters scribbled Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and more in their home town of Haworth, West Yorkshire, and will have spoken JUST LIKE ME.
Today I shopped in the market. Leeds is a cosmopolitan city with supposedly the largest indoor market in Europe. Over 800 traders attend. Almost every type of foodstuff, from the mundane to the exotic and just plain weird is available in this impressive Edwardian building and outdoor market.
Along with the broad Yorkshire, a cacophony of dialects and foreign tongues could be heard; offering advice, bargaining, exchanging and haggling.
Young men of West Indian origin pushed carts stacked with fruit and vegetables, while another heaped them neatly onto the stall. There was ackee fruit, avocado, breadfruit; oh so much stuff I didn’t know. I’ll leave that one to Captain Bligh!
Popular, was a stall with countless rolls of colourful and delicate materials stacked upright, along with remnants laid out as samples. The stallholder was chattering and jabbering non-stop in his own tongue to the gathering of Asian ladies with small children, touching and stroking the delicate silken threads.
A short, slightly stooped lady wearing a striped woollen beanie pulled over the ears, dragged a well weathered shopping trolley behind her. Without batting an eye-lid, she barged and elbowed her way through a cluster of gossipers, muttering something about ‘them foreign folk littering ‘n’ loitering t’oil up,’ before brazenly jumping the queue to the snack bar.
“Cuppa thick tea ‘n’ a slab ‘o’ yon cake luv,” she almost demanded. Wearing fingerless gloves she rummaged in her pocket, trying to scrape enough coppers together for ‘a bit ‘o’ that theer crusty pie.’ She was seated and served with a cheery smile and a large slice of apple pie with fresh cream--gratis. Obviously a regular!
And then of course, entered the man with the Big Black Book. He fervently patrolled the aisles, running amok between the fishmongers and butchers, waving his bible at arm’s length in the air; repeatedly bashing it against his free hand. His raucous bellowing startled the pigeons into flight.
“Isaiah 64:6…Your righteousness is like filthy rags.
Romans 3:23… All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God;
Where will you unrepentant sinners choose to spend eternity?”
I saw beads of sweat form on his forehead. Hordes of shoppers scuttled by, totally blanking him. They’d heard these loony preachers over and again. It was like water running off a duck’s back.
The lady in the striped beanie shuffled out of the snack bar with fresh cream decorating the tip of her nose: “See yer tomorra sunshine,” called the owner.
It seems to me that an act of kindness isn’t recognised by regional dialect. Compassion can speak volumes, lingo redundant. God’s chosen language is universal and wherever in the world His true children are, the accent is on a four letter word…
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