Gravel Voiced Gadgies
At the Synthonia Social Club the beer was a pound a pint.“Cheapest beer in Teesside, lads,” the gateman at the Central Avenue told us.
Steve, a Geordie, came away chuckling because he liked the sound of their voices. The Teesside accent certainly is a unique thing. It somehow manages to be both flat and phlegmy at the same time. Redolent of packets of Senior Service, nights of drinking and years of breathing in noxious fumes, it is a tight jawed bronchial gargle punctuated with sharp vowel sounds. In the South people said they couldn’t tell the Teesside and Tyneside accents apart. In fact the two are as different as Dutch and Italian. Geordie is full of pitches and swoops, the lilting tongue of people who love to talk. The Teesside accent is like the place that spawned it- it isn’t pretty but it gets the job done. Actually that’s not strictly true . When it comes to speech the Teessiders do allow themselves one frippery. They are very fond of polysyllabic words precisely used. Once, on a train to Stockton, I heard two gravel-voiced gadgies talking about TV programmes.
“Aye,” one of them boomed,” it was a documentary narrated by Julian Pettifer.”
He chewed on the words with a lip-smacking relish as if they were a particularly choice pickled egg.
The Far Corner by Harry Pearson. Warner Books ISBN 0 7515 1058 0
Copyright © Harry Pearson 1994. Reproduced by permission of the author c/o Rogers,Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN
Harry Pearson is a football addicted writer. Born in Great Ayton , a village just to the south of Middlesbrough, he is an incurable ‘Boro supporter as am I. (Don’t feel sorry for us. Supporting the Boro is a character building . It inures you to the constant disappointments of life!)
The Far Corner is essential reading for anyone interested in the North East (i.e. the ‘Far Corner of England) . Although its central theme is football in the region, it contains wonderfully witty and sharp observations of the people and you don’t have to be a football enthusiast to enjoy it.