Do you live in a region different to the one you grew up in? Or if you’ve moved back now, how did you feel whilst you lived somewhere else?
I’m not so much talking about living abroad – because that’s an even wider topic – but about the diverse regions within our own countries; in this case, the UK. A lot of us, probably most of us, move at some point in our lives, whether that’s for uni, a job, a partner, or a different pace of life and way of living.
I was born and grew up in Hampshire, not far from the South coast (we spent pretty much every summer holiday on the Isle of Wight). I never disliked my home county, but when it came to leaving for uni, I wanted to be somewhere different that felt like a real change. And so it was that I moved to Yorkshire at the age of 18.
Ten years on, I’m still here. And it’s here that I’ve studied, graduated, worked, dated, formed life-long friendships, fallen in love, formed hobbies and passions, and become the person that I am today. But does that stop me missing family and friends, and the place where I spent my childhood? Of course it doesn’t. It’s a weird and wonderful thing to adopt another region as your own – even just for a little while – and although you might not have thought about it, it’s almost definitely shaped who you are today.
On last week’s episode of Gogglebox (great show), they featured a programme called Made in Yorkshire. Nothing special about that. But when one of the regular ‘Goggleboxers’ from Brighton started taking the mick out of the Yorkshiremen on camera, it kinda got my back up. The viewers on Gogglebox are always mocking what they’re watching so it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but I found myself getting a bit defensive over the stereotype of Yorkshire folk being “thick in’t head”. Aside from this notion being entirely untrue (as most stereotypes are!), I had to wonder why I felt so protective. It struck me that maybe I’ve started to identify more with the place I live than I’d realised.
Another case in point – recently I’ve got really into podcasts, but I’ve found myself listening out for familiar accents – i.e. from here – and sometimes even getting a little peeved when I’ve felt like they’re dominated by Southerners! It’s not lost on me that this is nuts, being a Southerner myself.
(Writing that last sentence raised another question – up to what point do you label yourself by where you came from, rather than where you live? I don’t have the answer to this).
This stuff has opened a whole can of worms in my head and made me think a lot about how our region forms part of our identity. Not least in the way we speak. My accent has become such a strange hybrid that I can’t win anywhere – people up here still think I’m posh but my friends from home think I sound ‘Northern’. I’m sure both groups would be baffled by the other’s take on it; such are our different perceptions when it comes to accent and dialect.
Has the way you speak adapted to the place in which you live? Inadvertently I now say laugh and grass like they rhyme with faff and sass, ‘bin’ instead of ‘been’, ‘yer’ instead of ‘you’, and sometimes ‘I were’ even sneaks in a little appearance, where ‘I was’ had always been before. Given that I live with a boy who says ‘nowt’ and ‘owt’, I guess it’s not entirely surprising, and I love the accents of Yorkshire, but I can’t pretend that the strange mixture I’ve got going on hasn’t frustrated me in the past. I think in the most part because it’s sort of summed up my not truly belonging to either place.
Writing this has got me thinking how interconnected identity and belonging actually are, which is probably something to explore more in future. In the meantime though, I’m gradually learning to stop resisting the mixed up accent, and see it more as a sign that I’m lucky enough to call two regions home.
Where do you call home, and has that always been the case?
Endnote: I can’t miss an opportunity to big up an independent seller! The print I’m perching on in the picture is this gorgeous one of Yorkshire below, it hangs in our living room and I love it. The artists are the peeps at Pepper Pot Studios – they have illustrated map prints of just about every English county in their shop, and a whole lot more too.