Between the Lines: Friends, countrymen, lend me your airs ... er, or ears

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When I first moved to Norfolk, 20 years ago, a colleague of mine said that she was going to the doctor about her airs. After a few ‘pardons’, when my lack of understanding was starting to become embarrassingly evident, I realised that she meant her ears. My colleagues thought it mildly amusing that I talked about yers – ‘Oh ye-as, you mean’, they laughed. A friend of mine, born and bred in the East End of London, used to refer to driving down the M fo-ur, and my normally very erudite manager talked about compooers. Sadly we don’t seem to hear much of a true Norfolk accent these days; I think I am allowed to say that as I have been ‘over here’ for a good while now.

A Russian friend of mine first arrived here in 2011 to work for Mars in Lynn. He enquired, after being there for a few weeks, why the ladies and gents in the factory used to greet him with Alright Mike? every time he walked through. It became apparent that he was being greeted as ‘Mate’. Now I think that is fine if you are a chap. It’s the equivalent of Hello Old Bean How the Devil Are You?

However I do find it very feather-ruffling when someone calls me Mate – as a laydee, I may be your mate, but I do have a name.

On the subject of speaking, for some time now the leaders of various political parties have been affecting the habit of missing the ‘t’ off the end of words, as in tha’, wha’ . This drives me to distraction, and I want to put them on the naughty step and make them write a hundred lines.

I trust the candidates at the upcoming hustings will not be following this example. I say this as one who, when listening to somebody making a lot of points, nods like one of those dogs you used to see in the back of a Ford Capri, while saying “Yeah” at regular intervals.

I am on the way to the naughty step right now.

When I first landed in Lynn, I kept looking behind me when being served at a supermarket checkout, as I couldn’t work out who was the ‘Darling’ – I then started to realise it was me, and this was the name of everybody else who arrived at the checkout. I thought it was very charming, but it has to be said in a certain way. I was also called ‘Maam’ in a shop in Lynn, and I must admit to very mixed feelings about this. Honestly I think the Queen looks marvellous, far better than me, so I don’t know how anybody could get us mixed up. Anyway, my boo-ees, I’m signing off from my compooer, orf down the apples and pears, and off to the mutton chops.