Poor Dick Van Dyke, I’m sure most people have had a chuckle at his ‘Maeree Paarpins’ British accent. Or Anne Hathaway’s attempt at ‘Northern’ in One Day (which I still think has an unnecessarily cruel ending. Dexter and Emma should have been allowed to be happy! Why Lord, why?)
Moving on… I can do precisely three accents – Cornish, Bristolian (NO, THEY ARE NOT THE SAME…) and a deep voiced East Ender (think Danny Dyer rather than Barbara Windsor). I am Cornish and also lived in Bristol for a while so I can see how those accents developed. I can only blame the East End interpretation on my love of TV.
Not being an amdramer, prank caller or spy (they must need a good bank of accents surely? Fake documents can only get a person so far…), I’ve not had much call to extend the repertoire until now.
You see, children’s stories have characters. And those characters need accents. If one is to provide a satisfactory reading experience (i.e entertain child long enough to make them forget about wanting to take cars to bed), then it is not sufficient to have just the one reading voice. Which means my three accents are getting plenty of practice.
Gruffalo? Bristolian. Mouse in Gruffalo? East End. Tiddler? East End. Plaice in Tiddler? Bristolian. Snail in The Snail and the Whale? Cornish. Whale? Whale. Wait a minute, I CAN DO WHALE! ADD THAT TO THE BANK!
This would be fine if I were reading a book a night to my child like the helpful post that’s doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment – you know, the one that says that if you read a book a night to your one year old that by the time they reach five they’ll have read a gazillion books? (I may be paraphrasing here…) But we’re stuck in a Julia Donaldson loop at the moment of Gruffalo, The Snail and the Whale and Tiddler. We’ve read the same books over and over again – and in the case of Tiddler, every night since the start of February. My son is picking up on the intonation of the sentences and trying to repeat the words in the way I’m saying them as I read. So while he has no idea at the moment what or where Bristol is, when he does, I’m having visions of one day being asked if the Gruffalo lives just off the M5…