All Together Now: Poh-tay-toh

For the third time since we reappeared from the other side of the pond, Hubby was last night accused of having developed “a bit of an accent”. Not just any old accent, either: he’s rolling his vowels and curling his r’s like a proper southern yokel.

A yokel, yesterday

I know why it’s happened: he spent (another) fortnight immersed in the joyous surrounds of Southern England, where the accent is more pervasive than I ever thought possible. I didn’t realise I had a Dorset twang, rather than the posh totty BBC English voice with which I always imagined myself to be speaking, until I heard a recent recording of myself. It was a distressing moment, during which I was forced to come to terms with the fact that I do not have the dulcet tones required of a Radio 4 presenter, and that my yokel-ness has, if anything, strengthened since I left the country.

Furthermore, we’ve developed an addiction to Doc Martin since we returned home. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s about an incredibly grumpy London surgeon who develops a fear of blood and is forced to demote himself to GP for a West Country village. It’s full of delightful accents and adorable old people.

Near some yokels, yesterday

We’ve also been avidly watching Downton Abbey, now available (thank the heavens) on Netflix, which explains why he’s dropping such phrases as “ship-shape in Bristol fashion” into everyday conversation. This is not a saying that ever made it over the oceans and is only going to confuse his fellow countrymen.

Interesting fact for the day (courtesy of my informational powerhouse of a father): the phrase refers to Bristol harbour, which has been one of England’s most important ports for a thousand years. The port is up the River Avon and has one of the most variable tides in the world, changing daily by up to 30m, and, when the tide is low, ships tend to get a bit beached. Consequently, until the Floating Harbour was invented, ships using the port needed to be well-made and sturdy and their cargo had to be securely stowed.

Hubby’s opinion of the matter is that he’s leeching my accent from me, to be helpful. A couple more trips back to England and he’ll be wearing a flatcap and wittering about poh-tay-tohs, and I’ll be calling everyone sons of bitches and forgetting how to make a cup of tea.


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