Words: Amy Bebbington
I never thought much about it growing up. My heritage. My northern roots. My accent. It was just who I was. Where I lived. Everyone spoke with similar tones with no one commenting on how I pronounced words or particular phrases.
Moving to ‘The South’ wasn’t a conscious choice. I guess it just happened. My college fashion course offered placements with the University of the West of England, so after much debate I begrudgingly moved away from my small hometown, family and friends, only for nine months. I’d be back within a year, I constantly told myself as I packed up my childhood room and traded the North West for the South West.
Nine months soon turned into 11 years. After finishing university I wasn’t ready to return. I never permanently moved back to live, much to my mum’s horror. I loved this vibrant, artistic city that I had ended up in and felt I had to stay, if only for a few more years. I moved into a house share and started a new life, not knowing many people or how hard full-time work would be.
It wasn’t easy at first. Without the university bubble full of different accents to protect me, I surprisingly met a lot of people who were not too keen on my northern twang. Some comments were harmless banter whereas others were a lot more cutting. Over the years, I’ve noticed a huge shift, meeting a lot more northerners along the way. People have become much more accepting, friendly even towards my accent. As more individuals move across the country, the north south divide seems to have shifted a little.
I’m lucky enough to have two homes. Our Bristol Victorian terrace with original period features that we’re slowly making our own is in the perfect spot to make the most of the city. In the summer we’re usually inundated with festivals, my favourite being when hundreds of hot air balloons fill the blue sky with colour flying right over our house.
However much I enjoy our Bristol life, I always retreat to Runcorn after a few weeks have passed. My freelance lifestyle allows me to take my work on the two trains to stay in my second, childhood home for a week or so. To reconnect with my family and make sure my beautiful niece knows who her Auntie Amy is. I spot my mum’s red Micra parked at the station and I know I’m home. I return to Bristol always feeling refreshed and ready for city life again.
In my heart, I will always be a northern lass, no matter where I live. As my adorable baby daughter begins to find her voice, I wonder what accent she will have. I’ll have to make sure she picks up my phrases, especially pronouncing bath, glass and grass without an ‘r.’ I’m sure my boyfriend will have something to say about that.