I have a nasty habit. I know I’m not the only one. I pick up people’s accents when I speak to them. Especially when I agree with what they’re saying. I lived with someone from Alnwick at university, and sounded like a Geordie for two years.

It works both ways; I also seem to discover my own ‘true’ accent when I am passionate about something, although this is also guided by my mood – when angry, I tend to sound more Cockney. Swearing in particular is much more satisfying in said accent. And, of course, I’m allowed, because I’m technically from Walthamstow/Tottenham (I seem to collect hometowns.)

On the other hand, when I feel authoritative about something, I sound more Radio 4 R.P. Adopting a lofty, elevated focus on annunciation perhaps serves to sound intelligent in my mind’s ear, and I think I can convince anyone listening that I am indeed the final word on the subject.

For example: I remember one time getting into a red Astra in my college days, to be driven around by boys, and settling in next to my best friend who was seeing the boy that I wasn’t (all was shared out fairly in those days) to rant about something, loudly and and energetically to talk over the stereo and to make my entrance a bit more fun. London was definitely with me, and I’m sure it also had at least a fraction to do with the fact that my bestie happened to be from Wimbledon.

Australian is the worst. To begin with, I thought the Asutralian person I was copying would find it funny or endearing somehow. God only knows where this idea came from. I can only imagine how mortifying and annoying it might be to have someone attempt to copy my accent when talking to me. But then, I don’t really like the sound of my own voice (unless I’m doing Radio 4), which is maybe why I feel the need to collect others. Certainly, if I sound anything like my Burnley boyfriend did when doing ‘Southern’, when I copy anyone else, I have a feeling how I must come across. Especially as I only do it with people I don’t know very well. People who are warm and infectious, and happen unfortunately to hace an accent that commands copying. Oh dear, is all I can think, in retrospect. How can I stop myself, oh lord?

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