I was reading this article on the Bristol Post website this morning with interest. The reporter – Tristan Cork – has been tweeting quite a bit recently about the ‘prejudice’ against the Bristolian accent and this article feels like the culmination of that.
As most of you reading this will know I have a broad Bristolian accent. It has never really softened despite most of my working life being spent around nobody who sounded similar. In fact there is a suggestion my determination not to give in to expectations as I became more senior in roles means my accent has gotten stronger over the years!
I can’t remember a time my accent wasn’t remarked on in professional situations – heck even as far back as university my peers and lecturers mentioned it. The ‘jokes’ never sat well with me but also it never really bothered me deeply. When push comes to shove I came from Bristol and they came from….well who cares….it wasn’t Bristol 🙂
When I started public speaking I often started by getting out ahead of the comments by making my ‘I’m a Pirate not a Farmer’ comment. This usually got a laugh and a few Tweets but I don’t really bother with that anymore. I still get a few comments but I’m established enough at this point to take no notice really.
That said I have never agreed to do a podcast as I do dislike the sound of my recorded voice – but I understand this is not uncommon – even from you RP folks!
Has my accent influenced my career negatively? Honestly I have no idea. I’ve done fine. Better in many ways than I could ever have hoped and I was able to do so sounding like myself, living in the neighbourhood I grew up in (albeit with a lot of train travel!), volunteering at the school I went to and generally being a proud, professional Bristolian.
…and lets be honest. I see the world today – the misogyny, the racism, the homophobia, the transphobia – the general hatred of any otherness – and I figure I won pretty big in the lottery of life. I’m a straight white bloke, reasonably well educated, living in Bristol, working in tech, mostly healthy with a supportive family. I mean that is a lot in my favour. I can balance out the fact my accent makes people think I’m stupid.
Although I can’t say I’m impressed it is apparently the least sexy in the UK. Scandalous.