04 February 2013

Memories of Back of Beyond

I read another blog 'It happens in Cranfield' as this is where I used to live and it is one way of keeping in touch with what is going on at the back of beyond.

In one post, the author talks about the local dialect, and we have got into a discussion about the old Cranfield broad accent which I remember was spoken by my grandfather. The first time I really remember visting them was before we left for Malaya as our dog Lady was being rehomed with one of my Dad's cousins Cyril who lived in Brogbrough - unfortunately while we were out in Malaya, Lady was run over on the main road; I am not certain of the details.

My grandmother, or Nanna I think I called her was a lovely lady who before we left slipped a 10 shilling note to both me and my brother - I didn't realise at the time what this had probably cost her I just remember thinking how lucky I was - so shallow when I was young.

My grandad was a tall man, over 6ft tall and very thin and lanky. I remember him as being quite stern and mostly he ignored us.

It would be another 5 years before I saw him again, my Nanna had died while we were based in Germany and while Dad had flown back for her last days and funeral we had remained in Detmold.

On our return to the UK, we left in December and our new quarters were not available until January so we used our caravan to spend a few (rather frosty) weeks in on a campsite just up the road from Grandad. One evening we were detailed to spend an evening with him, while mum and dad went out somewhere.. and this is where it gets quite funny. I was 14 almost 15 and Zeltus was 16 going on 17 I think.

Grandad had a very broad accent, and neither Zeltus nor myself could make much sense of it. We used the tone of his voice to help us decide whether it was a question or a statement, if it were a question we used to guess at either Yes or No, and a statement we used to just nod and get him to continue.

This is how we managed to drink his entire stock of peach brandy (not the strong stuff) and make headway into the cherry brandy.. as his questions were presumably do you want a drink?... It was only later as an adult I thought about what he must have thought of us and realised we probably seemed dull of understanding, not realising there was a language barrier.

Dad when he came home was also a bit worse the wear for alcohol, Mum was driving so was probably the only one sober out of the three. Poor grandad came in for a bit of a verbal bashing, and never again did he offer us a drink, and gradually we came to understand more than one word in three.

Sadly, the strong accent seems to have died out completely, although pronunciation of village names has remained. The next village to Cranfield is Salford (not Salford as in nr Manchester) but a silent L means this is pronounced Safford... confusing to those not from the local area.

Living down here at the Edge of the World, I have learnt a whole new language and pronunciations and similar to the Back of Beyond what you see isn't always how it is said.

1 comment:

Janet said...

What a great story. We didn't have that issue, as we were raised in the same area as both my parents and both sets of grandparents. But I have encountered some of it since moving to Appalachia. Not so much dialect as word usage. "Do you care to?" means "Would you please" here, whereas in Nashville it meant, "Do you want to?" It threw me off completely when I first moved here.