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The Real Accent Project: Meet The Speakers

Meet the people who’ve recorded for The Real Accent App: England…

Alan is 36 years old. He was raised in Mapperley and Arnold, both suburbs of Nottingham. Recently, he moved to Leicestershire. Alan is an Insight Manager, analysing customer data at a gas and electricity supplier.

"On January this year I did a bone marrow donation, um, because I was a match for somebody who was suffering with leukaemia or lymphoma. So I’ve been using that as an opportunity to try and-try and hammer, uh, awareness to get people sign up for the register…"

Anthea is 62 years of age and was born in Oldbury but moved to Great Barr (approximately five miles from the centre of Birmingham) at an early age, where she’s still living. Anthea trained as a Nursery Nurse but worked her way up to management level before retirement, liaising with Social Services to care for young children in a deprived area of Birmingham. She enjoys competitive ballroom dancing in her spare time.

"…somebody kitted me out with this outfit and somebody did my hair and everything. I didn’t know what to expect. And I think because we didn’t know what it was all about, how big it was, we were quite relaxed and- cause normally I’d get quite nervous about something like that – but we just went out and enjoyed it. And we had to do the Cha-Cha, um, that was all we had to do initially in this one and…we got through and we got through and we got through. And-and then we actually won it."

Charlie is a 58 year old software designer and professional musician. He was born in London and raised (initially) in Surrey. Boarding school was in Sussex and university was in Leeds. Charlie now lives in East Sheen (South West London).

"And my favourite place to play was in the Thomas Kirche in-in Leipzig. Um, and I got very emotional that day, in that, uh, you know, it occurred to me that I was sitting on the seat that Bach had sat for twenty-seven years and playing his music, in his church and I felt that really was the summit."

Darnelle is 17 years old and is studying Electrical Engineering on an apprenticeship scheme. He was born and raised in West Ham but now lives in Stratford, East London.

"I used to listen to, like, a lot of, like 50 Cent, and obviously he’s, like, a gangster and shooting people and stuff. Like, I inspired to be him and, like, I don’t know why, that was dumb. Yeah, I thought I was a gangster, like, I used to think I was bad, like, I was, like, I used to challenge people that, like, were way older than me even though I know I was gonna get beaten up and stuff, just to prove that I wasn’t scared."

David is 27 years of age. He was born and raised in West Bridgford, in the southern end of Nottingham, where he is still living. David is a Customer Analyst at a pharmacy chain.

"Your city could be known for a lot worse things than something like Robin Hood…to be known for a character like that, somebody that actually appears to have decent moral compass and what have you, fighting-fighting for the little man, the poor man on the street, yeah, it’s not bad. I can’t moan."

Denis is 74 years old and has lived all his life in Leeds. He was born and raised in Hunslet but has also lived in Gipton, Kirkstall, East End Park and, finally, Harehills. Denis is now retired but used to work as a milkman.

"I been a milkman for, you know, forty years, like, and I used to have a hand barrow…Anyway, going down Gipton Approach, which is quite steep and, uh, it started raining quick, whoah. Big downpour and it were that cold, it froze. It were just like sheet of glass. So I sets off down there…it went down and down and down, right t’ bottom to Wykebeck Valley Road. And it were turning and I didn’t even drop crate of milk off or nothing. Went right down and it finished up banging on course of hedge at bottom of road…"

Denise is a 52 year old Health Care Assistant in the Prison Service. She was born and raised in East Leeds (Osmondthorpe, Kirkstall, East End Park and Harehills) where she’s still living now.

"…they’ll say anything because they want more medication. Say, for example, if they’re an opiate user they want all the opioids, which is your tramadol, um, your cocodamols, that sort of thing…Um, so they’ll get anything, they’ll say anything just to get this medication. But you know, cause you’ve worked there that long, you know what they’re after because you read between the lines, and you read the body language and you see what’s going on."

Frank is 69 years of age. He was born in Aston, grew up in Kingstanding and now lives in Great Barr (approximately five miles from the centre of Birmingham). Before retiring, Frank worked as a Communications Engineer, travelling the UK working in prisons.

"If they lose somebody, which they frequently do, or if the count’s wrong, they have…a lock down…nobody in, nobody out…it’s three days and three nights and the dogs are all put round…which meant that weekend I couldn’t get back cause I was locked in the blooming- I was virtually locked in the prison."

Geoff is 58 years old. He was born and raised in Gateshead, where he still lives. Geoff started his working life as an electrician but has also laboured in the shipyards, sold kitchens, managed an internet business and taught adult literacy and numeracy. He’s now a home handyman.

"Me grandma was from Jarrow. She was actually on the Jarrow march, which is famous in English political history or British political history as a hunger march when there was no work in the s- local town and they marched to London to demand just one job per person. Didn’t work and it’s still the same today. Eighty years later."

Jamie is 24 years of age. He was born and raised in Kirkdale, which is north of the Liverpool city centre. Jamie spent time in a Costa Rican prison for drug running. He is now unemployed and living in Bootle, further north again from Kirkdale.

"I had a loa-load of cocaine around me legs and that and then I just came through the airport, got pulled out the queue, got searched and then I ended up doing twenty months over there in a Costa Rican prison. But I lear- I learnt Spanish over there. Me Mum and Dad came over for me twenty-first birthday. Like, I wasn’t that- it could’ve been worse…"

Jamie is 26 years old. He grew up in Gateshead, where he is still living now. Jamie has had many different jobs, including work as a chef. He is currently unemployed.

"I started playing pub-level, like, Sunday League and it’s really, rea-really, really rough. I mean, if the referee doesn’t see it and somebody breaks your legs, it’s-it’s not a foul. Like, I’ve had me legs wiped out from under us. Th-they didn’t get the ball, but because I’m lying on the ground they’ve just took the ball and I’m going, ‘Ref, what are you doing?’ and he goes, ‘He didn’t touch you.’"

Katharine is 50 years of age. She was born in Aldershot to a military family, and moved around army bases as a child, but now lives in Canterbury. Katharine does secretarial work for her husband and sells wood burning stoves. She’s also a member of FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) in the Territorial Army.

"…army children tend to talk with what would be considered a posh accent because it’s the way of bonding with-with the army tribe, um, as a way of making a new group, as a group, because an accent is a form of, it’s a form of camouflage in one way, uh, but it’s also a-a way of saying, ‘this is who I belong with, this is with whom I identify.’"

Kayi is 16 years old. She was raised in Canning Town but now lives in Stratford, East London. Kayi has just finished her GCSE’s and wants to be a TV Presenter when she finishes school.

"My family’s pretty…wild…Like, our family’s very…versatile, you know, we got so many different cultures in our family so it’s nice like Christmas and stuff. It’s not just, like, roast dinner, cause I don’t like roast dinner. I-I-I eat Pot Noodle on Christmas, that’s just what I like, but you know there’s-there’s other things like samosas, there’s Caribbean food, there’s African food and it’s nice."

Kelly is 32 years old. She was born and raised in Kirkdale, north of the Liverpool city centre. She spent a brief amount of time away from Liverpool, as Deputy Manager of a care home for the elderly. She’s now back in Kirkdale and about to give birth to her third child.

"I did try and get sober for years before I finally did. I was in and out of detox units from the age of nineteen to twenty-four. Uh, when I drink I become depressed and then I take overdoses. I did end up on a life support machine once, nearly died. Erm, just chaos, but I think part of my addiction as well was chaos."

Kelly is a 32 year old Learning Support Practitioner. She was born in West Bromwich and raised in Great Barr (approximately five miles from the centre of Birmingham) where she is still living.

"I’m a Learning Support Practitioner in a school. I work with children with special needs, mainly ADHD and autism…doing one-to-one support…you’ve got to be careful how you’re handling them but you’ve also got to protect the other children around them. So that can be very challenging sometimes."

Kelly is 33 years old. She was born and raised in Leeds and now lives in the eastern part of the city. Kelly is a stay-at-home mother but used to work in a bingo centre bar.

"I met my other half at bingo when I used work behind the bar and he use to come up for his pint of lager and bacon fries. And one day I ran out of bacon fries and I had to give him scampi fries and that day on he stalked me. From that day on he used to watch me and watch me until I finally gave in and said ‘yeah’…"

Laura is a 27 year old Staff Nurse in Nottingham. She started life in Sneinton (part of inner city Nottingham) then moved to Edwalton (a suburb in the south of Nottingham). She now lives in West Bridgford.

"So, um, yeah, Shottingham, um, aka Nottingham is, um, it-it’s uh, s’posed to be a rough area but I think that there are areas that are very rough and especially with my nursing, I come in contact with all variety of people with different backgrounds and things like that. And when I was working in A&E there was a lot of stabbings and gun shot, um, wounds…"

Lauren is a 52 year old children’s book illustrator. She was born and raised in Bristol, primarily in the south of the city, and currently lives in Bedminster.

"I had four years of playing around with sticking and colouring in and making things and making things out of cardboard and, yeah, it was great. And then they let me loose on the public and I actually got a job, which was fab, and I’ve been working, like, um, like a nutter ever since, actually."

Louise is 32 years old. She was born in Keynsham, just outside of Bristol, but grew up in St Anne’s Park and Brislington, both suburbs of south Bristol. Louise moved away for a Fine Art degree but is now living in Montpelier, north Bristol. She is an artist, specialising in wood block printing but dabbles in street art as well. Louise also works on the local ferry boat service and describes herself as ‘artist’ and ‘mariner’.

"We decided in our spare time to do a six metre drawing, a-a, sort of, two stories of a house, um, drawing of-of Brunel. And uh, decided to go and shuffle up the cliff one night at four in the morning and, uh, paste it on the rocks underneath the bridge. And, uh, yeah, the newspapers cottoned on to it pretty quickly. It was- people loved it."

Lyndsay is 37 years old. She grew up in Newbiggin Hall and now lives in Deerbush, Newcastle’s West End. Lyndsay is unemployed but used to work in an insurance company call centre and, after that, volunteered at a funeral home.

"…when (they) got people in, dead people in for viewings…I used to have to walk through the Chapel of Rest to either go to the toilet or go and make a cuppa, and I used to say to them, ‘You alright there, pet? I’m just putting the light on. I don’t want to disturb you. No-no need to get up, just going for a wee.’ I used to talk to them all the time."

Michael is 28 years old. He was born and raised in Rochdale, which is part of Greater Manchester, where he is still living. Michael works in the transport office of a logistics company.

"I was born in Rochdale, uh, I was raised in Rochdale, uh, I still live in Rochdale, which is, uh, a small town suffering from, uh, post-industrial decay, uh, near Manchester. Uh well, it was built on the back of the cotton trade and obviously when all the mills shut, the jobs went, it just, you know, new jobs weren’t created. Infrastructure was just left to rot basically and it’s just, uh, it’s a bit run down now."

Michelle is 45 years old and manages a team of Criminal Justice Substance Misuse Workers for a Drugs Charity. She was born and raised in Everton in the North End of Liverpool but has lived in the South End for some time now.

"So for anybody who likes the Beatles, um, there’s lots of different places scattered around the city to go and visit, um, to find out a little bit about their history. And quite close by to where I live, um, is Penny Lane and on Penny Lane you’ll see the Barber’s shop that they refer to in, um, the song. And there’s lots of other little places around there with hidden gems that feature in their songs that only real Beatles fans would know about."

Mike is 55 years old. He was born in Guy’s Hospital, London Bridge, and raised in Rotherhithe, where most of his family worked on the docks. Mike now lives in New Cross, South East London. He started his working life as an apprentice bricklayer but now owns and runs his own building firm.

"I loved punk. Punk was brilliant. Best time ever. Cause it was- society was changing then. This country changed and it changed overnight and it was great…for young people then it just opened up. You could do anything…I missed the sixties when it changed the first time so when it changed again in-in the, sort of, late seventies, early eighties, that w- it was just a great time to specially be in London…"

Perri is 28 years old. She has lived in Islington (North London), Bethnal Green (East London) and Woodford (North East London). She now lives in Chigwell (Essex) with her partner and three children. Prior to starting a family, Perri worked as a hairdresser’s assistant, a receptionist in a recruitment agency and a Post Person for the Royal Mail.

"You put your letters in, this one address, you put your letters in the door and the second you would put it there, the dog ripped it out from the other side. One day…the woman’s out with the dog, the dog’s off its lead. Well the dog’s trying to bite my ankles. Well to say I called her a few names and the dog got called him a few names. Yeah, I shouted at her and the dog and I swore, which is quite unprofessional if you’re working for the Queen."

Plum is an 18 year old student. Initially, she was born and raised in Barnes, South West London but moved to Wiltshire with her family when she was seven years old. She went to boarding school in Cheltenham between the ages of 11 and 17 and now boards at a school in Westminster, London.

"…you get the polo bug…it’s good fun and loads of my friends play it. There’s a really big, sort of, under eighteen, under twenty-one scene. There’s quite a large social bit to it so there’s a lot of parties, um, post-match celebrations or post-match take-your-mind-off-how-badly-you’ve-lost."

Rachel is a 48 year old administrator at Manchester Metropolitan University. She was born in Audenshaw and raised in Denton (both part of Greater Manchester) but has lived in the City of Manchester for a significant portion of her life.

"I’m a Manchester City supporter. Love it to pieces. ‘City ’til I Die’. And know quite a few of the chants but don’t ask me to sing any of them, no way. You’ve gotta have a beer in you to sing them. But yeah, there’s a lot of rivalry goes on between the Reds and the Blues. But the Reds actually live in Trafford and it’s not Manchester. Manchester City is Manchester."

Simon is 39 years old. He was born and raised in south Bristol (Withywood and Bedminster). On leaving home he moved to Cotham in north Bristol. Simon spent a few years away for university and work but is now back living in Cotham and managing a restaurant.

"…she ended up giving me her card as I was leaving the club afterwards and then I realised that she, um, ran a, um, kind of, dance agency-publicity, sort of thing. Um, and then it went from there really. So I did short videos and, um, films for cinemas on, um, drug awareness and non-smoking things, and stuff like that, in night clubs. Um, and then went on to dance for night clubs."

Steve is 28 years of age. He was born and raised in Salford, which is part of Greater Manchester. Steve still lives in Salford, working as a pub landlord in Lower Broughton.

"You’d have to spend a full day here just to know the characters. You could write a- you could probably write a book on the place. It’s just a man’s working pub really. That’s- they always come in at late, in the mornings sometimes early, ‘no, you can’t have a drink ’til eleven o’clock.’ ‘S’alright, I’ll have a cup of tea then.’ That’s it."

Tony is a 43 year old Finance/IT Consultant who also teaches weekend drama classes to children. He was born in Osmondthorpe and now lives in Killingbeck, both in the eastern parts of Leeds.

"Favourite thing about Leeds? Uh, friendliness. You can be sat a bus stop with somebody and they’ll just start a conversation with you, whether you want to listen to that conversation is another matter. But somebody will talk to you…"

Tony is a 58 year old London black cab driver. He was born and raised in Bethnal Green, East London, and now lives in Woodford, North East London (formerly Woodford Green, Essex). At the age of seven, Tony became part of the ‘Up’ social documentary series that interviewed fourteen children from across Britain in 1964 and then conducted follow-up interviews every seven years after that. Tony’s last appearance in the series was for ’56 Up’ in 2012.

"I love being a London cabbie. My character and my job, they go compatible to one another and they complement each other. I love the people I pick up. I’m always in their face, asking what they do, where they’re going and what they’re doing and, you know, whether it’s a lady helping her with her p- kids in a pram or whether it’s a-an old man on his own and helping him in and out, do you know, I like to make a statement by letting ’em know that, uh, you know I care…"