Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Since my return to Crewe a few months back I've noticed something rather peculiar, they haven't a clue what I'm on about. For some of my readers, especially those who've met me in the flesh or indeed who have lived in the Gateway to the North itself, this will probably come as no surprise. It certainly is to me.
When I first moved here in 2002 I had no problems making myself understood and after a few months I'd even effected a bit of a local accent. I'd say "arright love" quite a bit (although I've never said "midook" down the hill in Stoke as that's pushing things a bit too far). I was and am though, despite my best efforts, quite distinctly from the cheaper end of the home counties. This never seemed to bother people before, nobody ever asked and they understood everything I said. Let's face it, the local accent isn't strong - Crewe is a "new" town founded in the mid 19th century with economic migrants from all over the country wanting a job on the railways. They brought their local accents and dialects with them and what resulted from the melting pot was pretty non-descript; recognisably north-west but nowhere near as harsh as Merseyside or Mancunian. The huge number of non-conformist churches and chapels in the town is a legacy of the original social mix.
I don't know what has been the tipping point for the locals, maybe it's the influx of Eastern Europeans over the last 5 years that's made everyone double take every time they hear something slightly different. In the last three or four weeks I've been told that I'm "not from round 'ere" more times than in the previous 6 years. One even went as far as to ask whether I was a criminal, presumably on a witness protection scheme but she was absolutely rat-arsed and had also just asked whether I'd make her a brew (another localism) or give her a glass for her wine (which I presumed to be of the tonic variety rather than a nice chablis). The other evening I was in my favourite local Indian takeaway and was joking with their English delivery driver and the lad behind the desk that "we probably all sound the same to you anyway", a remark that elicited gales of knowing laughter from both parties.
This morning was the worst though. I'd just bought some petrol in Morrison's and realised I'd left my chequecard in the Co-Op the previous evening. I was attempting to leave my address. Anyone familiar with Marjorie Dawes from Little Britain's Fatfighters will understand.
"Ah, Pleasant. Is that in Crewe?"
Anyone for choglud?