Land of my fathers


I moved from the Derbyshire village of my childhood almost thirty years ago and have lived in a variety of places since that time.

I slowed my tongue a little to assist with comprehension in London, after a conversation with an employer who passed on comments received from mystified customers.

Some of my expressions were amended for the benefit of those who had no idea what I meant when I commented on the weather by exclaiming ‘it’s gerrin a bit black ower Bill’s Motha’s’ and didn’t know where to go when directed ‘dahn t’jitty’.

It was also sometimes necessary to give thorough explanations so that American friends didn’t completely misunderstand. I remember one evening my American housemates visited the local chip shop and returned home highly amused that ‘faggot and chips’ was listed on the menu.

I mistakenly believed that my native speech had been diluted to such a degree that people could generally understand what I said and that my place of origin was not blatantly obvious.

Then I heard my voice on the radio. In Australia. I sounded exactly like my younger sister, who has never lived more than a couple of miles from her first bed.

My children may never be able to pass themselves off as natives in Derbyshire, but they will know how to respond to the friendly welcome ‘Ey up duck, cum in, put wood int th’ole, an sit thissen dahn, Wiv just mashed an thiz sum amcobs an’all if yu want sum.’


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