Dear Cathy and Claire, what’s wun to do?

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION - Ev­ery week BARBARA FISHER looks at is­sues that af­fect us all – the is­sues that get you talk­ing. You can join in by email­ing bmail­bar­

SIT­TING in a jam-packed 1,076-seater theatre wait­ing for the show to be­gin, I no­ticed Mr F was busy count­ing heads. The ‘man-tally’ was only 14, he told me, and that in­cluded him and his brother.

This was not too sur­pris­ing, as the out­num­bered pair had ac­com­pa­nied us (me and a fe­male friend) to see Jackie – the Mu­si­cal, at the Wy­combe Swan.

Based on the girls’ mag­a­zine pop­u­lar in the 1960s and 1970s, the show was a snap­shot of a young girl’s life then. Jolly and oc­ca­sion­ally poignant, it was also star­tlingly in­no­cent.

If there were any younger women in the au­di­ence they may have been fas­ci­nated to see what life was like be­fore sex­ting re­placed love let­ters and pornog­ra­phy was a furtive look in a top-shelf mag­a­zine in the lo­cal newsagent. Even the dance rou­tines, chore­ographed by Ar­lene Phillips, were au­then­tic, as in those fab decades she would have been mak­ing the Pan’s Peo­ple-type moves her­self.

Mr F and F2 en­joyed the ex­cel­lent show, much to their sur­prise, but drew the line at join­ing in with hundreds of arm-wav­ing fe­males singing Donny Os­mond’s Puppy Love.

It was quite stuffy in the theatre, and one woman sug­gested to me (in the in­evitably long toi­let queue dur­ing the in­ter­val) that it was prob­a­bly all the hot flushes gen­er­at­ing heat for free. I do hope the man­age­ment were grate­ful.

Talk­ing of the 1970s, my early teach­ing days in Green­ford were in that decade and when I ar­rived fresh from Birm­ing­ham I had more of an ac­cent. Peo­ple can’t al­ways de­tect it now, but Mr F says he still hears it in cer­tain words like one (WUN), al­monds (AL-MUNDS) or trough (TRUFF).

A lin­guis­tics lec­turer at Manch­ester Univer­sity said there is now prej­u­dice against staff with re­gional ac­cents and his study, ‘ex­posed a cul­ture of lin­guis­tic prej­u­dice.’

There is a re­spect and tol­er­ance for di­ver­sity in so­ci­ety, yet ac­cents do not seem to get this treat­ment, said Dr Alex Baratta,

I never felt that. My only prob­lem was re­mem­ber­ing to say plim­solls in­stead of pumps and crum­pets in­stead of pikelets.

As we are now such a melt­ing pot of di­alects and lan­guage, I was sur­prised re­cently when a man asked where I hailed from orig­i­nally, as he de­tected a slightly dif­fer­ent ac­cent.

Par­tic­u­larly as he was Polish!

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