Monday, 9 November 2009

Beavering around

Talk of Bristle in the earlier post reminds me of how the girls used to speak at school. "Orroit moi dorrl'in?" they'd greet you, that is if you were on friendly and appropriate terms with them (there being strict behavioural codes in force in the Cotswolds). One word I keep hearing in my head - totally incongruously - summarises the richness of the accent: garlic, pronounced 'gorrl'ik'. There are four syllables in there trying to get out. Lush.

One strange feature of Bristle and its neighbouring dialects is the tendency to address grown men as children or younger: kid, kidder, babs, babby. So when you hear "This kiddie comes up to oi", what's usually meant is "This man came up to me".

I remember one time playing rugby up in Gloucester against a team, Gordon League (named after Gordon of Khartoum, strangely), who played down the docks. As we trudged from muddy scrum to bedraggled line-out the opposition pack leader would encourage his grizzled, hairy-arsed crew with cries of "C'mon moi babbies! Dat's it moi luvlee babbies!". You wouldn't want to have made fun of him though.

There's an old video of me somewhere where I'm asking not to be filmed as "Oim shoi". I lost of good part of the accent - which had some Welsh in it too - when I went to Cambridge. I was quite upset when Nain and Taid told me I sounded different the Christmas after my first term. I hadn't meant to change it, not consciously anyway.

Evidently the hybrid accent persisted in some words (and still does I'm told). I spent a while playing rugby professionally in France and being a professional sportsman is so boring I had to find other forms of 'work'. I gave some English conversation classes and one time I was remonstrating with my student about his pronunciation. He kept pronouncing 'nice' as 'noice'. Eventually I heard myself: "No, not 'noice', it's 'noice'...".

But back to girls. I have to admit I do find a West Country accent attractive. Memories of my youth, no doubt. I wonder whether it's also wrapped up in this advert, which I watched at an impressionable age (I just hope the voiceover wasn't by Pam Ayres).

"Hey Mr Beaver, why are you beavering around?" was, indeed, the bunny-woman's catchphrase. As I no longer seem to approve of innuendo (see earlier post), I can't really make remarks about keeping willing beavers occupied, or there being few things more satisfying than a hot and bothered beaver. That would be puerile. It wouldn't stop Justin Lee Collins, though.

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