This is my response to the Flashback Track Friday prompt, where we were given Born on the Bayou by Credence Clearwater Revival and asked:
What hoodoo can you chase down about the place that you were born?
Okay, this ditty basically reads as a limerick, but I don’t form it as such, simply because it has four verses.
You speak proper when from Northern England,
They do it all different down south,
But it’s not what I say I found gave it away,
It’s the way it came out of my mouth.
A voice you could pinpoint exactly,
Precise within just a few miles,
That cheeky inflection, promoted affection,
Our exclusive grammatical style.
It’s not how they talk in St Helens
Which is just a few miles down the road,
Their wooly-back tone is so different to ours,
It was like they were speaking in code.
An accent which holds connotations,
but not sure if good or if bad,
But one so distinctive, to lose it instinctive,
As I live my life as a nomad.
The hoodoo from my hometown is, quite simply, my accent.
To anybody who reads me regularly, you will know that my goal as a child was primarily to escape my birthplace, Liverpool. People from Liverpool are called Liverpudlians and speak with a distinctive accent known as Scouse.
Liverpool was a complete dump. Imagine the worst place you know, then double it! Okay, that is doing the place a major disservice, but that’s how I felt at eighteen.
As well as leaving Liverpool, I had a goal of losing the accent.
And Liverpudlians had a jack-the-lad reputation – I’m sure some of it must have been perception but I’m equally sure that lots of it was true. All in all, a place I did not wish to be associated with as I tried to climb the career ladder.
I’m 53 now – left 35 years ago – and I’ve almost lost that accent. It still peeps its head out when I talk to other people from Liverpool, but mostly I am unidentifiable, which is just how I like it. I’m a man of mystery 🤣.
In the rhyme I mention St Helens. That’s a town only about 20 miles from Liverpool, but they speak completely differently. We used to call them woolly-backs. If you’d like to know why, imagine sex with a sheep!
Oh, and lastly to illustrate both the accent and the reputation, I dug out this short comedy clip. The actors all speak with heavily exaggerated Scouse accents. Bear in mindthat this was a national show, which demonstrates how widespread this “lovable lout” caricature was, so famous/infamous that the country just saw this universally as amusing.
I did not want this to identify me.