Since I moved to Banff, Alberta in May 2017 a funny thing has been happening to me. People I’ve just met have assumed that English is not my first language. It’s happened at least five times. This is amusing for a number of reasons, namely that I am, in fact, English. English is not only my first language but the only language I can speak. I was born in England and lived in the same English city for the first 27 years of my life. My parents and grandparents are English and, as far as I know, so were their parents before them. This is not a badge of honour, just simple facts, I’m not more English than anyone else, just a very basic English. So why the confusion?
Well, it’s the accent. I’m from the north of England and have a fairly strong regional accent. I sound nothing like the Queen or Ricky Gervais or any BBC presenter ever. I sound, according to certain Canadians, Welsh or Scandinavian or Eastern European. Not English.
There is a lack of diversity in representation of regional accents in the British media although that’s not something I feel compelled to dwell on while there are still far bigger fish to fry when it comes to representation of POC, the LGBTQ+ community and those with disabilities, ammirite? I bring this up only as context for why many people around the world see England the country as a vague extension of London the city and nothing more.
I’ve recently been writing for a new online magazine, EnglandExplore, and have included a few snaps of my contributions below. I’m hoping that in the future, in collaboration with the editor, I can offer more stories about England’s diversity to encourage those visiting England to get out of the Big Smoke and discover less-travelled regions of this green and pleasant land, and hopefully find an England they didn’t even know existed.
You can browse EnglandExplore.com here but be aware that there is a paywall of $1 for a month’s access.