Updated: Jan 31
The full text that the Guardian piece is taken from is below, audio coming soon.
The piece can be viewed here
‘You’ll never get anywhere, talking like that, it makes you sound stupid. You need to try and flatten your Yorkshire accent.’
That was a member of staff, during a 'mentoring session' in my third year of uni.
I tried to not to cry, and sort of managed, crumbling completely when I left the room. What could I say to that? She must be right. She knew what she was talking about.
My experience at uni had generally been fantastic, obviously I got ribbing from my peers about words like ‘purple’, ‘bus’ or ‘murder’, but you sort of expect that anywhere outside of the region. Pals were playful. Maybe that’s why that one session with that female tutor always stands out in my mind. I can still hear her clipped, ‘Received Pronunciation’ echoing in my ears.
‘When you use 'like' in sentences, you sound like a teenager, no one will take you seriously.’
I didn’t argue. I should have argued.
Instead I gave her too much sway and tried to follow her instruction. My accent completely changed during my 4 years at uni, flattening back immediately when I was welcomed home. It’s really hard to speak when your voice will put you at the back of the intellectual queue. Now, 13 years later, although I do catch myself saying ‘like’, like, all the time, I try to let that anger charge me rather than choke me.
I am Co-Director of new community producing company ARCADE, an Associate of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, based in Scarborough. Leading ARCADE allows me to channel my energy into creating change. We are fiercely proud of where we live and want to actively make room for northern voices to be heard above the din. We are particularly interested in encouraging local women and girls from all backgrounds to explore their creativity.
Next week, there will be a performance of Northern Girls, produced by Pilot Theatre, in association with ARCADE, as part of the national, Signal Fires project. Young female writers from Scarborough will see their words performed alongside that of professional writers, live, by firelight – and it will be utterly magical.
This piece marks the start for us and we’ve already got projects lined up for next year; Scarborough Stories will give our community the skills to perform their memories and feelings as part of a show, in which they, and the town itself are the ‘stars’. We will allow them the space to talk, be heard, share, shout and scream if they want to – and they’ll do it all in their own voices.
And if anyone tries to stop them, you best believe I’m going to bloody argue this time.