Up and down the country regional accents, words and phrases are a massive part of our history and culture. Some stand out so much they are instantly recognised as Glaswegian, Tyke or Geordie dialect. Recent research from LNER however reveals that almost half of Brits think the number of people speaking with a traditional accent is falling. Quite a sad fact indeed but one that hasn’t gone unnoticed. This month with London North Eastern Railway, I was lucky enough to work on their Track Record campaign. A wonderful, charming audio poem created to celebrate people, places and regional accents along the scenic LNER route.
Being born in Glasgow I have grown up with many of the words and phrases people associate with this great city. It was only natural then to be hugely excited when LNER first approached me about this project. Track Record was written, created and directed by poet Ben Norris, with the help of broadcaster and fellow Scot Edith Bowman. Together they have meticulously interlinked phrases and words we all recognise relative to our region. Colloquiums that make you smile, warm your cockles and importantly should not be forgotten. Furthermore it incorporates the voices of LNER’s staff and people from communities along LNER’s East Coast line as backing to the spoken word track.
To play my part in this wonderful piece, I visited a local recording studio together with Ben and some lovely staff from LNER. Admittedly, I was nervous with it being my first time in a recording studio. Mainly because my singing voice is not the greatest. Thankfully however that was not the purpose of today’s visit. As we sat down, I began reading over the poem, a wonderful concoction of the UK’s best known words and phrases. Many examples of the Scottish patter were instantly recognisable to me, invoking memories of phrases grandparents would say and words I used more frequently as a child. That for me is what makes this poem so fantastic. The fact it is relatable to so many. I am confident it will have many of you reminiscing.
For the reading itself I would be focusing on some of the Scottish sections of the poem. “Whether the weather is dreich”, a reference to how bleak the weather is, was my starting point. What I found actually very interesting was how simply saying a word or phrase differently could bring it so much life and character, almost lifting it off the page. It was also amazing having Ben in the studio. Hugely talented, he was incredible at helping me get the feeling and delivery of each part correct. “Piece” referring to a sandwich, was an example of this. We wanted it to feel like I was kindly correcting someone, not forcibly telling them, the name of a sandwich. Sections and words like this also reveal the humour and authenticity that flows through the poem. Something I really feel translates well in the final piece.
With the final words recorded and my day drawing to a close it was incredibly fun working on the LNER Track Record project. It was truly a unique experience and a joy to be part of. I hope through hearing the final piece it inspires many people to carry on using these local words and phrases. Drop them into a sentence every so often. Do your part to preserve regional accents; they are a part of what makes us unique and a cornerstone of our local communities.
The final piece is available now on YouTube. To listen, click here and indulge your senses in some superb local phrases.
This post is in partnership with LNER. All words and opinions are my own.