Tag Archives: foundspeech

Overheard in a railway station

Overheard in a railway station:

“She’s been barred from McDonald’s”

Overheard on a train:

“You can’t say ‘Baa baa blacksheep’ any more, its racist. You have to say ‘baa baa rainbow sheep'”

“You can’t say ‘Baa baa rainbow sheep’! Its homophobic!”

(Teenage boys on their way to a football match – and both meant as a joke)

Heard in a gents toilet at a football stadium:

“Are you waiting for the trap?”

“Yeah, there’s someone in there”

“I’m right behind you. Well, not *that* close behind you.”

“This isn’t the Amex!”

Someone who thinks that hats and handbags are alternatives to each other lives in a completely different universe of discourse to me.

A genuine stereotype observed in its natural wild habitat! Teenage obsession with trainers! OK, its a but last-century, and it was never as extreme as the The-Youth-Of-Today whingers made out but it not only did exist it still does. At least in Deptford.

Yesterday, on top of the 47 bus making my way in the general direction of the Den (don’t talk about the match. We was robbed). There was a group of girls sitting behind me chatting loudly. Very loudly. All black, most mid-teens I guessed, maybe 14 or 15 – from what they said at least some of them were deciding whether to stay at school into the sixth form or else go to a college so they are certainly about that age.

Another young woman got up to go downstairs and get off the bus. As she got to thte top of the stairs the girls still behind me started giggling and shushing each other and stage-whispering: “Be quiet! Don’t say it yet! She’ll hear!” When she had got downstairs they started laughing and joking about what she had been wearing. “It looks like its going to burst!” I assumed this referred to the rather tight white trousers she had stretched around her somewhat large rear end. Though I couldn’t help thinking cynically that the general effect was somewhat pleasing from a bloke’s point of view, and that at least one of the girls doing the talking was quite a bit plumper all over.

And then they moved on to footwear. Apparently the trainers she was wearing were hilarious. How can she bear to go out in them? Can’t she save up and buy a proper pair? I couldn’t quite hear all the conversation – the stage whisper had subsided into ordinary quiet talk and buses are noisy places so I wasn’t sure whether the problem pair of shoes were Reeboks or they were suggesting Reeboks as a cheap but acceptable alternative. I know there are symbolic codes and agreed protocols to assign meaning to these things but, being a Bloke, I don’t know what they are and even if I learned they would be changed soon after, partly because people like me knew them. So I have no idea what Reeboks signify to these young women.

Then they moved on to classmates not present, demolishing their pathetic choice of trainers one by one. The worst of the losers seems to be a young boy whos Dad bought him a pair of Dunlops. And he wore them! “That’s so African!” Apparently, no Jamaican Dad would let his children be seen out wearing no-brand shoes like that! They would insist on proper brands. Like… well, like I can’t remember because the two or three examples were completely unknown to me and by the time I’d been to the match (don’t mention the match. I blame the ref. And that idiot lino) I’d forgotten their names if I’d ever heard them clerly in the first place.

But I’m not meant to remember the names of shoes. They are numbered amongst those Things that Man is Not Meant to Know. The rules of fashion are impenetrable to blokes. Deliberately so, because they are partly about demonstrating publically that you are not like people like me, so if people like me started dressing a certain way the fashion-struck would stop doing it.

Its not only women on buses. Last week, on a train to Waterloo, I overheard two young women talking about what they had been buying recently, and what they intended to buy in whatever shops it was that they were going to visit that day. One asked the other if she was going to buy a handbag. Oh no, she said, no handbags, none of the current styles suited her, so she never went out with a handbag any more, and for the last month or so she had been wearing hats instead, so she intended to buy another hat.

Someone who thinks that hats and handbags are alternatives to each other lives in a completely different universe of discourse to me.

Rochester, Chatham, and ?

Is it Gillingham or Jillingham? I’d say the second. But station announcers at Charing Cross seem to want to sit on the fence. I just heard a recorded announcement that used both in the same sentence. I guess its mashed up from separate snippets but it did sound like one voice.

Overheard on a mobile phone.

Still continue to be amazed by what some people will say into phones with complete strangers in earshot.

The other day I overheard a young man say roughly this:

“I was done for three charges of common assault. I pleaded not guilty to one of them, but I did the other two. One of them was that time I knocked you over and kicked you in the head and you called the police but they didn’t arrest me.”

Who needs East Enders?

Overheard in the garden of a pub

“Do you remember when P was running G pub and that bloke was murdered upstairs and she tried to kill herself?

[Phone rings] [Some conversation] “What nick’s he in? I’ll go and see him…

Different bloke a few minutes later in same pub: “My brother just got made a life peer…”

Who needs East Enders?

Mortboats!

Found a wonderful bit of bad tourist prose (AKA a “mortboat”) at the website of the Slovak city of Presov

Presov is the third biggest town in Slovakia. The key crossroad of the business journeys in the past is today a calm centre of the northern – eastern Slovakia. It is by no accident that it was named also Athens Upon Torysa or Slovak Seattle. You can admire historical sights as well as make trips to its close surroundings – from the easiest walks to extreme experiences. There are plenty of good quality restaurants, cafes and pubs in the centre. You´ll get brilliant rest in Presov.

Discover the undiscovered town. It´s easy to be found, lieing straight on the 49th parallel. English Queen wears an opal from the world´s famous Presov opal mines on her crown. Signature on the 10 dollars note belongs to Michal Bosak, originaly from Presov. What´s more, one of the only 4 copies in the whole world of the Turin shroud is placed in the Presov Greek Catholic church.

Bring on those “extreme experiences”.

Why is this a “mortboat”? Because of the all-time classic invitation to Tolo in the Peloponessos (which is a truly lovely place for a holiday):

The first seaside village you meet on leaving Nafplio is Tolo, situated on a picturesque bay. Its seafood tavernas overlook the water. You take a bite and inhale the salt breeze. You listen to the put-put of the little mortboats chugging over to the islet of Romvi opposite.

Overheard in a cafe

On Friday morning: “If I was that David Cameron I’d shoot myself. Iraq War, credit crunch, cuts, most unpopular PM for twenty years and the Tories STILL can’t win a bloody election”

(paraphrased due to cerebral caffeine deficit syndrome after staying up all night and drinking port at 5am)

Overheard in a gents toilet at a University:

Two ancient history students chatting

“What’s next week?”

“Bloody Irish archaeology!”

“What’s wrong with it? It sounds good?”

“Too much domestic stuff. I only signed on for this course because I want to do the warfare. I want to get to the barbarians. Franks and Goths and stuff. None of all this nonsense about trade! That’s so boring!”

“Military defences of the Empire soon.”

“Plenty of blood and guts in that!”

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings…

…comes stuff I don’t want to repeat on a family-friendly website. Or it does if the kids in question are Millwall fans at the Cold Blow Lane end during a match.

Football is not a big part of my life, as everyone who knows me knows. (*) But people watch football in pubs. And I spend a lot of times in pubs. So I am often around people watching football. And it gives you something to talk about, it is a way of relating to the people around you. And as the people around me tend to be Millwall supporters I thought I would go and take a look.

So yesterday I went to the New Den to watch Millwall trash Huddersfield 3-1 (And that last Huddersfield goal ws a fluke. They were outclassed. There were at least three Millwall forwards better than anyone Huddersfield could put on the pitch, and one of them was supposedly playing as a defender. Neil Harris could have been in a different league from Huddersfield. I doubt if Leeds will go quite that smoothly though…)

I have to confess that I would have been nervous about going to the Den. That I almost was nervous. The place has a reputation. And I don’t go to football matches I didn’t really know how to go to football matches. How do you get in? Where do you buy a ticket? Can you just buy a ticket? What do you wear? What do you do when you get there? What if they think I’m from Huddersfield? Does anyone check on which team you really support?

I was late because I had something to do in Lewisham so I took a 47 bus, and there were traffic jams all whe way from the High Street to Evelyn Street so it might have been quicker to walk. Instead of going all the way up to Surrey Docks on the bus I got off at Deptford Park and walked along the Surrey Canal Road, and was heartened to see that I wasn’t the only latecomer, there were a dosen or so others all walking purposefully along the same way.

The stadium is next to one of the few remaining industrial areas in inner London, stuffed into an angle between the mainline railway out of London Bridge towards New Cross Gate and another local line that goes to Peckham via South Bermondsey. Its got four more or less identical stands, one on each side of the pitch, simple plain concrete structures that looks about as cheap and functional as a stadium could be.

Well, its easy to get in, if not cheap. You walk up and buy a ticket. And no-one checks that you are real or not or minds what you are wearing. Its mostly T-shirts, jeans and trainers. There were even a couple of blokes wearing sandals. A few adults but a lot of kids were in team colours. The crowd segregation is (at least for a low-profile game like this one) more or less voluntary. There is nothing other than common sense stopping a stray away fan from buying a ticket for the local end.

and the game had already just started when I bought my ticket, so by the time I found my way to a seat it was nearly ten minutes in. And the first thing that happened was two Millwall goals in about two minutes. Which is probably as bad a start as you can get – like a gambler who wins on their first visit to a casino. Maybe I’ll spend years expecting always to win.

Do the crowd deserve their reputation? Maybe they do. Its mostly male, though there were a few women. And mostly white. There are a few black fans as well – nowhere near as high a proportion as in the area round (which is one of the centres of population for Africans in London) but some. Including some young kids apparently on their own. There were a lot more children than I had thought there might be, though that might have been because of where I was sitting. As it was my first time I decided to sit down at the front, behind the goal – which is where the little kids tend to be, which is why I got to hear what they were saying. It seems the older supporters tend to like being higher up so they get a better view of the whole game.

As the game went on more and more of the children drifted to the front, and many of them were hanging arounds in the space between the seats and the pitch. Which is full of signs telling you to remain in your seat and never stand up and certainly not to go near the pitch. Apparently if you do you will be licked out of the ground and arrested and put on a database and not allowed to watch football again anywhere for ever, sent into internal exile in Scunthorpe, and your maiden aunts will be sold into slavery. Or something like that. It seems that these rules don’t apply to children in practice, and by end of the first half there were about fifty kids with bottles of coke and packets of crisps standing in the space in front of the seats. Some of them could hardly have been more than two years old. I wonder how seriously the club takes the “no standing” rule for children when they emply someone to dress up in a lion costume and wander round the pitch entertaining them?

There was a lot of shouting from our end (I couldn’t hear anything coming back the other way even when Huddersfield scored, but there were only a few hundred of them – and about thirty police guarding them) Millwall songs and chants tend not to be that tricksy or clever, and at the end when it was clear that the game was won it was nothing but the word “Mill” chanted on one note for some minutes, people dropping out to take a breath and others joining in so the chant kept up.

A lot of the shouting was obscene. Once the fans had a reputation for racism, but I heard none of that. But then we had more black players than they did. Unless you count “Your mother’s Welsh!” which doesn’t seem that insulting to me. I suppose “You dirty northern bastard!”, chanted after every foul, or supposed foul, from the other side is sort of regionalist of not racist, but its not said with much conviction. And Brighton fans used to yell it at any team, even Reading, which probably confused them. One player on the ground who looked like he might be injured got “Let him die, he’s only a northerner!” Which probably didn’t affect him much – I think he’s from Luton. But in the second half when they changed ends and the Huddersfield goal was right in the centre of the Millwall fans one or two of them did look a bit put out by the crowd.

Yes, a lot of it was sexist. Commenting on the sex or sexuality of the opposition players seems to be the staple insult. And the most popular four-letter word begins with C, not F. I’m not sure what “You’re a woman and so is your bird!” was meant to mean though.

Sometimes the insults were just confusing. What on earth is “fraggle!” meant to mean? Have I missed something?

And they start them young. The kids at the front were as rude (and mostly as unimaginative) as the adults. I’d be surprised if Daniel Drinkwater was very upset by a kid about five years younger than him shouting “Drink Lucozade!” every time he got near the line. And “Crawl back under the stone you came from!” sounds more odd than scary when the boy yelling it looks about eight at the most.

But the oddest Millwall supporter’s comment of the day was back at the local when West Ham were being beaten by Liverpool on the TV (and presumably on the pitch as well but all I saw was the TV). “What I can’t understand is how when the bloody Luftwaffe were bombing the East End every night they managed to miss Upton Park. Were they bribed?”

And at the ends of the match, most of the Millwall supporters seemed to walk home. There was certainly a long crocodile of people all the way down Ilderton Road to Old Kent Road, with smaller groups walking off at each side-street and estate we passed. Millwall is, I think, genuinely a local team with few if any supporters from more than a mile or two from the ground. I wonder how many other proffessional football teams that is true of?

(*) Saying “football is not a big part of my life” is putting it mildly. In fact I used to hate football. We were made to play it at school, which turned me off it for decades. School sport is in a way a form of child abuse or it is in a boy’s school anyway. It involves a kind of ritual pubic humiliation that you would never see in any academic subject, forcing the weaker or less skillful students to tray again and again and again to do things they are incapable of doing and punishing or mocking them when they fail. It is all too often institutionalised bullying. Part of its function was to separate off a minority of boys and mark them as suitable targets for scorn, which is a powerful way of boosting social solidarity among the majority. Bullying reinforces the social system in a hierarchical institution like a school. I don’t know if the teachers knew that that is what they were doing. I hope they didn’t. But it is what they were doing.

But, a lot later, I got over it. Partly through watching World Cup matches with some mates, partly through having a great time in a pub when Millwall got to the FA Cup Final. I suppose that was the day I made my peace with football. Not that football noticed.

Ian Paisley International Airport.

No, there isn’t one. And there probably never will be in this world, though I could imagine an alternative Earth in which there was. Probably in a Ken MacLeod book.

Down to Worthing for my aunt Peggy’s funeral. A quiet affair, less then twenty people there and a few drinks suplied by my cousin back at his Mum’s flat. Some stressful things, and some buried bits of the past, mostly not talked about. It must have been a hard nut for the minister who took the service to crack, and I think he chewed it or even sucked at it more than he cracked it. Lots of unresolved old disputes and rivalries, most of which I have no idea of the source of, and most of which will now never be resolved because most of those involved are now dead.

OK, this isn’t an emo blog, or even a political one. Its about places and a bit about language and random encounters. And I’m not about to plaster rumours about my family history all over the internet.

So I’m wondering about accents again. Where they come from, how fast they change. My Dad’s parents generation all had strong South Tyneside accents when I was a child, even the nine or ten of them who had moved to the south coast forty years before I was born (which is why Jarrow or Hebburn sound like home to me – people speak in the voices of the aunts and cousins who used to babysit me and my brother when we were chldren). Yet that accent itself was probably only about a generation old when they learned it. My generation of our Brighton family mostly speak in a rather typical south-eastern urban accent, (what might now be called “Estuary English”, a term I hate), which sounds to most people a bit like a London accent. And our children are mostly posher than us, tending towards RP (but not quite getting there).

I wonder where and when that urban Brighton accent came in. Did anyone speak it in the 19th century? Or would Brighton people have had Sussex accents? As far as I can remember most people I knew in Brighton of my parent’s generation spoke it when I was a child, and at least some older ones (though it is hard to be sure after all these years). The “Estuary English” scare in the newspapers of about a decade ago seemed completely to miss the mark to me. Prescriptivists attacked urban south-eastern English as if it was some new-fangled slang threatening to overwhelm RP and kill off the real local or rural accents. But from my point of view they were talking about the accent I was brought up with. (I don’t think my Dad said “innit” but we did, and we said it in the 1960s) If anything the trend was the other way – older Brightonians sounded more “cockney” and more working-class than many of the younger ones. (But that is anecdotal and depends on our own class trajectory of course) Real Sussex accents seemed vanishingly rare in Brighton even in the 1960s (though I have overheard people using them at Plumpton races only an afternoon’s walk away)

I think I used to think of accents as diverging like a tree. But now itseems more like the way the sea sorts out the pebbles on Brighton beach. A wave of economic and social change passes over a city or a county or a country generating new accents and dialects in its wash, mixing people and speech together, and when it has passed it leaves them stranded as heaps or ridges of shingle, similar but different to the ones there before, arranged in new combinations whuich might last for hours or days or weeks or years or centuries.

I took the opportunity today to try listen to the voices of P and J, brothers, distant cousins of mine, just about the oldest surviving of the Brighton-born in our family. They have rather different accents from each other. One posher (though nowhere near RP), the other could easily pass for South London or urban north Kent. But I think I can hear the ghost of a Sussex accent in them, a little bit of the voice of their father, a man from rural Sussex. Their mother, who died recently, still sounded more Jarrow than Hebburn or Shields when she was in her eighties. She moved three hundred miles from home, her accent never moved even three miles in sixty years.

She was probably the last living person with any memory of my grandfather who I never met, and as far as I can tell almost no-one liked. I don’t even know what he looked like. Though I think I can guess. I saw a photo today of my uncle Joe (who died many years ago) and he looked astonishingly like my cousin Kevin. Both of them look quite like my Dad and his brother Fran (Kevin’s Dad) and also my own brother. Presumably they all got that look from somewhere, and I guess it must be their common ancestors, our grandfather and grandmother I never met. (Though I don’t look like that – I more resemble Mum apart from eyecolour and waistline and find myself reflected in all sorts of cousins in Scotland)

And afterwards in a car through Lancing and Shoreham to Brighton for a nostalgic drive along the seafront and a walk along the Palace Pier (the only one still more or less standing) taking in some bits of personal and family history on the way. The road goes all along the long lagoon of the River Adur and you can tell which part of the urban coastal strip you are in by the uses made of the lagoon. At the Worthing end it is filled in and made into a lawn. There are some beach huts and park furniture until a few huge vaguely gothicky-Arts-and_Crafts fake-timbered houses with pre-distressed rooflines and hanging tiles announce the begining of Lancing Beach. Norman Shaw come down to the coast and pupped with Arthur Rackham. Then a combination of unimaginitive recent blocks of flats and slighly less huge barn-like houses that seem to be an incongruous mixture of Swiss chalets and clap-boarded fishermen’s cottages. We try and fail to remember which one my aunt Vera kept a guest house in many years ago. The lagoon behind is now the Widewater, brackish and teeming.

Over the mouth of the Adur and past Shoreham Beach, which is marked by the sudden proliferation of houseboats, dingys and old leftovers from the pre-war plotlands, along with some much more imaginative modern blocks. Drive past a few very strange pubs I remember from years ago an lots of smallish 1950s and 1960s warehouses converted into either flats or furniture showrooms. Across the county boundary to East Sussex, which is at this point one of the most egregiously misplaced county boundaries in the country, cutting through both the port and continuously urban western extremities of Brighton, Whatever they say, Shoreham is a suburb of Brighton,

Then all of a sudden what remains of real industry, incongruously separating (for those who don’t know Brighton) horeham from Hove. Yes, there still are small coastal oil tankers, I saw one drawn up by the old Texaco oil terminal, it up by bright lights and with a huge NO SMOKING sign over the front of the superstructure, and ramifying manifolds of red-painted pipework and plumbing over the deck. And the timber yards are still where they were when I was a child, if a little smaller. And there is only one metal chimney on the new power station, not the two old brick ones I remember. We are passing Portslade.

The exact location of Southwick, Fishersgate, and Aldringon, is a matter for the Wise.

The start of Hove seafront is marked by beach huts and paddling pools on one side (the lagoon filled in yet again) and Edwardian “villas” Regency terraces, whitewashed flat-rooved portholed liner-style “modern” blocks of flats from between the wars, and small blocky 1960s hotels. The very last gasp of the old lagoon, the gap between the shingle and the mud, is occupied by the King Alfred centre, one of the most ugliest buildings in Britain. Swimming pool, bowlng alley and cheap cafes. Shiny and tempting when I was a kid, grey and falling apart now.

You can tell when you cross the border into Brighton. the shops are still open, the cafes full, and people don’t walk in the bike lanes. Though they do fight in the streets. The ruins of the West Pier are beautiful in the sunset, an unlooked-for unwanted glorious sculpture of tangled rust rising from the sea. There are people who want to preserve it as a ruin and I can see their point.

Park up in the darkness below the Promenade and terrace that covers the beginings of the cliffs where the South Downs meet the sea – no bare chalk till Black Rock, one of the greatest enineering triumphs of the early twentieth century, gicing the seafront a sort of three-dimensional feel no-where else quite has.
Then some fish and chips from one of the overpriced cafes near the bottom of East street (very authentic Brighton experience!)

And we drive our Mum back to where she is staying in Hurstpierpoint (“Hurst” the rather rah-rah locals call it), at the extremity of MegaVillage One. The last couple of miles are on the old road, one of those Wealden sunken lanes with a tunnel of trees, that are possibly the oldest human artefacts still in use in the British Isles. The houses by the side of the road are from the 1960s but the roas itself is perhapse three thousand years old or older. Our field boundaries are our history. the lines of the straight Roman roads were expunged centuries ago, but the landscape the people before the Romans knew – more likely the ones before them – is carved into the landscape by successive generations who walked the obvious way and wore their paths deep into the ground.

Got back to London just in time for last orders at the local

Sometimes pubs just work. And sometimes they don’t. Today was pub fail. I could have done with a lively chatty party feel. I could have coped with a quiet drink in the corner thinking to myself. What I found was a pub with only about eight or nine customers in it. A small gaggle of incoherently pissed blokes playing pool loudly – and ordering a minicab and then sending it away again because they’d either changed their minds about where they were going or were too drunk to have made up their minds in the first place – which must have pissed off the driver and certainly pissed off the barmaid because the mpore that happens the more reluctant the minicabs are to come when asked, and reliable cab numbers are a vital resource for a pub in London – the pubs and the minicabs have a symbiotic relationship and can’t afford to annoy each other.

And to one side of me D. and R., after an obviously bad day, sharing a tedious racist rant along “send them all back home” lines with passing digs at just about every ethnic minority they could think of – even the Spanish. Though mostly against black people. And at one point “I’d rather clean toilets than pay a black to clean them for me”. I didn’t feel up to saying “well bloody well do it then”.

And to the other side M., just back from a visit home to Northern Ireland, going on about how everything is more friendly there and how shit the English in general and Londoners in particular are, and how antisocial and unfriendly we are and how everyone treats her badly here and positively gloating about having been present for the thirtieth anniversary of the Warrenpoint ambush (which killed more British soldiers in one action than any war since has) and the murder of Mountbatten at Mullaghmore on the same day. It was grotesque and boring at the same time. If there was ever a moment I could have become an Ulster Unionist, that was it. And at the same time trying to make friendly conversation by asking all sorts of personal questions about my family which I didn’t feel at all like talking about. And she wonders why some people didn’t seem to like her and talk aggressively to her. And I wasn’t really capable of coping politely with that sort of conversation, speajing ill of the dead, so I popped out the back for a fag.

And heard another strange piece of found speech: “I’m leaking like a bitch” – from a drunk man who needed to go to the toilet a lot.

As for the title of this post – well some of Peggy’s family were over from Northern Ireland. Ballymeena and a bit of Portrush I think. I never knew I had a relative by marriage who was at school with Ian Paisley and actually knows him. Lets call her “T”. A strange feeling. Like most British lefties I was brought up with sympathies on the other side. I am told, though I didn’t hear it myself, that at dinner the night before T was complaining about about Belfast City Airport, now renamed George Best Airport (once upon a time it was called Sydenham Airport which sounds odd to an inhabitant of South East London). She hated the name. She said that George Best was an alcoholic, a drunkard, a waster, a violent man, whose liver transplant wasted an organ that might have saved a life, and a bad example of and to the people of Northern Ireland. She didn’t want to be associated with him. Why not, she suggested, name the airport after a decent family man? Someone who represented the best of Ulster life and Ulster values?

Who might that be? someone asked.

Ian Paisley of course.

It is reported that everyone else tried to change the subject after that.

Virgin train announcements

“Any passengers not travelling please make your way tothe platform”

But if they aren’t intending to travel they aren’t passengers! AAAAAARGH!

Overheard on the train:

African man on a mobile phone, in fake American accent:

“Whatever

“I don’t give a bunch of ham!”

Not sure what his accent was, possibly East African of some sort. When speaking Englih and not doing he American thing he was clearly non-rhotic. But when speaking another language I didn’t recognise he has a sound that sounds very much like a rolled “R” to me. Which I foolishly thought was odd for a bit, but obviously isn’t. Maybe he doesn’t perceive that sound as the same as an English-language post-vocalic “R”. Maybe the version of English he learned simply doesn;t have an “R” there (as mine doesn’t). There is no reason he should associate the written “R” with a consonant – it might just be a peculiarity of English spelling. Its just a clue that the vowel is lengthened. Our “TH” isn’t a T followed by an H, our “NG” is not an N and a G, the “E” in a word like “fate” is not a vowel, its a clue that the “A” is pronounced differently from the one in “fat”.

Two things

The way we speak now, part 184:

Curly, the taxi driver from Lewisham, pronounces “shot at” and “shite” almost identically.

Men have bags:

Someone in Another Place wondered why men can’t have handbags. Well, in London we can. I counted some men I saw on the way home from work last night.

184 had no bags
49 had plastic carrier bags or branded shop bags
363 had proper bags

Result: Most men round here carry bags.

Further result: looking at men is much more boring than looking at women.

Wasn’t that interesting?

Intergenerational rhotaicism clash

Overheard on a bus:

Small boy [worried]: “Mummy, where’s Carl?”

Slightly older sister [patient]: “He’s in the buggy” [pointing at little baby brother]

Mother [humourously]: “Who’s this ‘Carl’ anyway?”

Small boy: “Carl!”

Mother [rhotically]: “He’s called ‘Carl’, not ‘Cal”

Sister: “Carrrrrrrrl”

Small boy: “why didn’t you call him ‘Michael’?”

Black family, I guess possibly the mother had a Bajan accent but I don’t know enough to tell for sure.

The point being that the children have non-rhotic London accents (though clearly a black London accents) and so for them there is no “R” or “L” in the name “Carl”, any more than there is for me. Its all one vowel glide. So he probably hears his mother say something like “KARR-ul” but she hears him say something like “KAAUW”.

That’s not a very satisfactory way of writing that!

Does IPA work on this blog?

What I’d say is perhaps [kaəɫ]
What the mother seemed to be saying to me is more like [kærərl]

I probably didn’t do that right!