I emigrated to Tasmania with my family in 1979 when I was 12 years old. This is an awkward age at the best of times. Every kid wants to fit in. I was a ‘novelty’ for local Tasmanian kids as it was. I figured that they didn’t need any more ‘ammunition’ with a Scottish accent.
Overnight I adopted an Australian accent. It was hard work but it was convincing. This accent would stay with me for well over 30 years. People knew that I was Scottish as I would tell them if it came up in conversation. When I got ‘Scotland’ tattooed on my right forearm I was about 40 (I’m almost 50 now) it became an instant talking point. I rather enjoyed this, not for the attention but for the break from the mundanity of normal small-talk. I enjoy talking to interested parties about Scotland as my memories are vivid and pleasant….and surprising to some listeners.
Two months ago, maybe it’s an age thing, I decided to revert to my Scottish accent after all of these years. I got sick of ‘trying’ when I spoke. I also felt that I was cheating people. I put a post on my Facebook page saying this and went back to writing my novel, so I didn’t know what I had unleashed. I was soon to find out.
Minutes later the phone rang. “Hi Bob,” an excited voice said. It’s XXXXX here. Say something Scottish.” What could I say? I replied, “Hello, how are you on this fine day?” The phone ran hot for an hour. I barely got to sit down. I’m not hard to find, after all. I’m the only ‘B Findlay’ in the phone book in my city. The penny eventually dropped. I went to my Facebook page & their were comments galore. That, I can only assume, was the source of the phone calls. I instantly took the post down and and took the phone off the hook for the rest of the day.
Now I had the rest of the world to face. I’m lucky on that front though. The places that I go to know me pretty well. I went to the Pharmacy. I was asked by the Pharmacist about the accent. I told him the truth. I got sick of having to concentrate on my Australian accent. He and the other staff took it onboard without batting an eyelid. At the corner store where I buy my cigarettes, Cindy who works there didn’t flinch. Nor did Chris as the petrol station. I find myself very occasionally having to repeat myself. I have also found myself swearing a bit more. I keep it under control. The supermarket is not a problem as it’s usually a stranger who serves me and All I have to say is “Hello,” and “Okay thanks.”