Although I was born at no. 42 Industry Street in Sheffield, we all moved to Dundee in Scotland three days later. And there I lived until I was about 13.
This means that I speak with what most recognise as a Scottish accent. It means that, however much I longed to be able to claim that I was Scottish when I was a kid, I couldn’t – my parents are both Londoners.
A Sassenach snob!
As far as the Scots are concerned, I am a Sassenach (or ‘southerner’) and I speak with what they consider to be a rather posh English accent! Being an English teacher my mother refused to let us drop our ‘t’s or replace ‘ing’ with ‘in’. Therefore, my siblings and I grew up among peers who would laugh at our ‘Englishness’ and remorselessly tease the way we spoke.
We were never considered to be one of the ‘local kids’, whose fathers worked on the oil rigs for weeks and months at a time, leaving their mothers to take care of multiple offspring in small, rented flats in estates such as Linlathen and Mill ‘o’ Mains. In fact, all things being relative, the simple fact that our parents had a mortgage made us ‘rich’! To the Dundoneans we were therefore considered ’snobs’.
Typically, when I eventually moved to England as a young teenager, my new peers in Harpenden in Hertfordshire couldn’t understand a word I said. To them I spoke broad Scottish and my ‘Och’s and ‘Eh’s brought great hilarity to the classroom. I was no longer a ‘snob’ but became looked upon as a slightly shabby relation from the wrong side of the tracks. What a transformation!
You can imagine my frustration with this situation as a young person growing up.
It’s best to be British
Now, if asked were I come from, I always say I’m ‘British’!