Quintessentially, passive aggressively, English.
Clipped accent. Superficially good mannered. Outraged by queue jumping and unable to pronounce the word loch correctly.
I elongate the first A in Wagamamas and I can’t roll my r’s. I've tried. I've failed. It's like a super power I can never attain (looks around for radioactive tartan highland coo).
I love my country, I understand it’s regional variances. I hail from the West Midlands/English side of the Welsh border and I’m outraged when politicians describe Birmingham as being “in the North”.
Being so close to Wales and completing my post grad in Cardiff I have a fair idea what makes Wales tick too. North Walian, South Walian, swithering Hay on Wye with its “King”. I know it. I get it.
But then I moved to Scotland.
Where there is space and greenery, even on the motorways, and the hills are HUGE and the cows have fringes, and are coos not cows anyway.
First day on the job in Edinburgh, keen to be efficient and hard working, I was told to:"Chuck it in the bucket". Great phrase, rolls off the tongue, rhymes, brilliant......But what the fuck did it mean! It turns out it means throw it in the bin. Any bin. Not just one that looks vaguely bucket shaped. Big square bins are buckets too.
I learnt quickly, or looked confused and asked.
Local food places gave me the most intense schooling. You aren't asked who's "next" but who's "first".Ask for a sausage and you'll be offered "link or lorne". Link = Your average sausage. Lorne = Scottish square sausage, looks like bright pink cat food but tastes great! Fish and chips come with "salt and sauce" not vinegar. And it's not fish and chips anyway it's a "fish supper". And you get TWO pieces of fish.
You don't chat you have a "blether", if someone offers to accompany you on a walk they will "chum you", it's not a mess, it's a "midden" and if it's no trouble it's "nay bother".
I have great affection for "get tae fuck". Which, depending on delivery, can mean either "FUCK OFF" or "You're kidding me?".
Fabulous! No. Not fabulous. "Braw!"
My favourite is the fact that you don't live somewhere, you "stay" there. Even if you've been there 20 years and own the house. This prompted me to ask some friends how they'd show the difference between where they stay (live) and where they stay non permanently on tour. The answer.
"I stay....I stay here the now."
You "go through" to Glasgow rather than just going there, fizzy drinks are juice, squash is "diluting juice" well "dilutin joose" if you want the pronunciation.
Poem has a y in it! PoYem. It's like hearing a PoYem when the word is spoken.
Buried uses the U rather than the boring berried as I say it. The prospect of death is a lot gentler when I think about being bUrried.
Girl ends up with an extra sound made entirely of sumptuous r's. GiRRRl. The only thing better than being called a giRRL , is being called a lassie. Lassie. Not the brash American dog but a word that seems to sum up the curves and intricacies of being a woman better than the word woman ever could. (Plus it isn't just being a feminisation of man *high 5's inner feminist*)
If you’d asked me a decade ago about the Scottish accent I’d have considered a harsh Glasgow patter. Feisty, strong, always sounding like a fight is about to break out. Or, to non Scottish me, the almost completely unitelligable Rab C Nesbitt. I didn’t know about the delightfully posh tones of Morningside or soft highland s’s or that a strong Scottish drawl, combined with delicious Scots phrases is downright sexy. There’s something about the soft way the words run together, combined with a strong, forthright delivery that is food for the ears.
There’s a bit in Dirty dancing where Patrick runs his hand softly across Baby’s waist then suddenly holds her hand and flicks his wrist straight, making her spin out, controlling her as she arcs around. It's my favourite moment in the film. A great Scottish accent is like that, teasing out each soft sound then controlling them perfectly. Capturing your attention, enchanting you, making you listen.
Recently, on tour with Scottish colleagues in England, we were talking to some English people in the pub and with reference to the Scots I said:
Then corrected myself to:
"I mean, they.."
The reply from one of my friends was instantaneous:
"No, you're one of us."
And it took me by surprise
And I realised it's true. I am.
I'm stll English. I still could have skipped from the pages of an Enid Blyton book.
But my heart has a Saltire in it now.
A wee one.