Och, come oan! Ye ken “bidy-in”? No?
Someone who bides with you, I said, reverting to English. M starts to get it, I see understanding grow in his face. A partner.
Hearing Frances speak, I just started speaking with a Scots accent. She thought I was playing the comedian, she never thought I was Scots. She took some persuading, as she had not heard any Scots in my accent before. But then when she said in Ayrshire people still used Lallans vocabulary, I was surprised she did not understand it.
She moved to Yorkshire at the age of 9, and the children at school mocked her for her accent. Strange: the accent then is plastic, and most people learn their accent from those their age, rather than family. In my case I adopted my mother’s English accent because I cared more what she thought than those my age; possibly Frances rebelled against her peers. She lived in London, then N–shire, and at work spoke with an English accent like mine, for professional reasons. I could not place her accent more precisely than “Scots”, I don’t have a good ear even for the differences between Glasgow and Edinburgh, though the Wick accent, with “til” replacing “to”- as in “go til the shops”, or Doric, with f for wh as in “fitt-e daein- faur-e gaein?” stand out for me.
So she has a Scots accent, but in Ayrshire she has to ask people to speak slowly and clearly, as if a foreigner, and to explain vocabulary such as “bidy-in”. Whereas I can recite When pedlar lads leave the marketplace, and thirsty neighbours meet neighbours; when market days are ending, and folk begin to take to the road [home], as we sit drinking ale, and getting drunk, and uncommonly happy… But I had recited Crowdieknowe since childhood, but needed Iain to tell me the “lift” was the sky.
Why would my Scots accent come out just then? It never did, you know, before I went to University, even perhaps before I went to Oldham. I didnae speak like that at home, or at school. I spoke standard English. I have spoken to Frances before. So I had a Scottish accent even though I cannot recall speaking with it.