The campaign for a real Dorset accent … | Tales from the Vale


A lot of readers seemed to approve of my last column, the Editor tells me, in a rare burst of communication. 

The general feeling, though, is that the famous Dorset, ‘I be’ and ‘I b’ain’t’, does spread wider than North Dorset.

I’d like this to be true. In fact, the Editor and I are having top level Zoom meetings to discuss setting up The Campaign for A Real Dorset Accent (CARDA) to resurrect it, although it hasn’t actually died in North Dorset where I live.

One of the reasons for CARDA is to fight back against the habit some people – they know who they are (actually, the probably don’t) – have of raising their voice at the end of sentences, which turns statements into a question. I’ve written to Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and James Vaughan, Chief Constable of Dorset Police, to try and make this a ‘Verbal Annoyance Crime,’ or VAC – at CARDA we’ve got to use a lot of acronyms or we won’t be taken seriously.  And as everyone else appears to think pretty much anything one says is a ‘hate crime’, I want to be part of it.

I’m not over confident of a positive response, or any response, to be fair, but someone’s got to make a stand and I invite readers to sign-up to CARDA.  The Headquarters will be my Music Studio which be in the garden of my tiny cottage in Mappowder.  (I’m even getting a plaque and will have a socially distanced opening ceremony. So socially distanced, in fact, that I will be the only one attending). This ceremony will be at noon on Saturday, March 20th, the first day of Spring, when hopefully warmer weather will coincide with a vast drop in Covid cases (nd I can put the sweet peas in the greenhouse).

As I write this, there’s been a 130% increase in Covid cases in Child Okeford. I believe that the cause could be the diversion of traffic through the village due to the closure of the Shillingstone road (we’re living in the Vale of Tiers).  We all note a ghastly whiff when driving from Blandford to Child Okeford, due to the collapsed sewer. The workmen are going through the motions of mending it (hope they don’t get caught between two stools).

Lockdown lubrication

Are Dorset people drinking more during lock-down?

The recent spate of solid profits announced by the big drink firms suggest people are not drinking more, but they’re drinking better.

I’ve researched Dorset habits, and it would seem to be true.

I talked to Richard Parrish, Alcohol Manager at the much-loved Dike’s supermarket in Stalbridge, and he confirms that sales of the smarter gins, for example, were very strong in the first lockdown.  But then all stores report high booze sales as pubs are closed for normal business. (See News page x).

My other research involves the rather sneaky, low-minded, but fun exercise of looking at people’s bottle boxes that they put outside their gates on bin day. The first thing I notice is that more people are adopting the spoil-sport ruse of putting their empties box behind their bin.

This suggests to me that they’ve got something sinister to hide, therefore it’s reasonable to conclude that alcohol consumption has increased.

I did a bit more grass-roots research by consulting with the people who run my village shop.  ‘Are people drinking more,’ I asked.

‘You are,’ they said, while helping me carry some wine vats to the car.

Unhelpful, slightly judgemental, but true, so not a ‘hate crime’. 

I popped the same question to Pete and Sue at The Chapel Stores in Buckland Newton.

‘You are,’ they said.  Time to stop my research.

Stop Press News: Pete’s just bought a vintage soft top Mercedes, which he’s called ‘Lady Jane’. (He clearly hasn’t read Lady Chatterley’s Lover).  He says the name ‘comes from a Rod Stewart song’, but someone told him the song’s actually called ‘Baby Jane’.  That’s why I love Pete!

The BBC’s view of rural life

The BBC gets a lot of things right, and it does seem to be slowly realising that some people don’t live in London, or big cities. They did a piece on Sturminster just before Christmas, and in early February a reporter (obviously he’d got lost) spoke to some young people in Piddlehinton, where they said life there was ‘boring’.

I presume this delighted the editors as it would confirm their belief that anything interesting happens only in the cities.

I wish they had balanced their report by speaking to people who have lived in cities, and who appreciated the everyday consideration, neighbourliness, lack of litter, lack of graffiti, lack of road-rage and lack of general ill-temper and serious crime, found in village life. The definition of a village is a place where people talk to strangers.

Dear old Auntie

It continually amuses me to hear that The Archers has an ‘agricultural story editor’ (ASE), particularly as they barely mention farming in any detail. But I can just imagine the meetings when the ASE briefs the cream of metropolitan media on rural life. It probably goes like this (and we can take it for granted that all contributors raise their voices at the end of each sentence – more evidence of the need for CARDA):

ASE: So, like, there are some people who …(pauses as he doesn’t quite know how to deliver this next line) …don’t live in London.

Gasps of disbelief and shock at the very thought.

ASE: They live in what’s called the …countryside (pauses, then thinks how best to explain ‘the countryside’ to his blank-looking audience) …there are no Pret a Mangers….or Uber Taxis…I went to the ‘countryside’ once, it’s why I’m the ASE, and, I’m like, where is everything?

More gasps, several people faint. Smelling salts are called for.

ASE: And they all go around on these things called ‘tractors’….

Scriptwriter: Are these ‘tractors’ like a BMW 4×4?

ASE: Yes, they’re exactly like proper cars that all normal people (i.e. people who live in London) have, but they call them ‘tractors’, don’t know why, a rural thing probably (much laughter).  And they use them to tow big metal boxes on wheels, full of err….quinoa and …errr…wild basmati rice and …um…quiche…

Scriptwriter (approvingly): So, can we assume they’re all vegan?

ASE: Yes, like, everybody, I mean totes everyone, who lives in the countryside is vegan because, they’re like, ‘I can’t afford meat’. They sometimes snack on pieces of straw, and they hold up their trousers with baler twine…I’m like, why are you doing that, and they’re, like, ‘because we be…’

Well, I’m being very unfair as I like The Archers (and it’s gritty realism) and I happily pay my TV licence, and I think the BBC is brilliant, and, I’m proud of it, but I wanted to finish on a funny. 

Are you all going to join CARDA or what?

Andy Palmer


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