Air hair lair, it’s old Plummy Voice here.
Something bizarre and almost unbelievable has happened. Something odder than Rupert Murdoch giving us “the facts Ma’am, just the facts.” Something hitherto thought less likely than Ireland winning the World Cup – the football World Cup that is – not something easy like rugby or cricket. Something even more unusual than an honest politician.
My voice has been described as “plummy”. That’s plummy as in posh, proper, dignified and authoritative – I presume. As opposed to strange, fast, incomprehensible, weird or simply Irish.
My mother will be pleased.
The outstanding judge of accent and diction who correctly identified the special qualities of my speech is Padmini. And she should know, because she was a film and stage actor. So I think we can fairly say that there can be no further debate. My plumminess is established once and for all.
We met when Padmini and her daughter Nitila took up my offer to take readers of this blog round the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.
It was great to see them. I wrote about it here. Now Padmini has given her side of the story here. It’s odd reading about yourself – or perhaps that’s because it seems as though she’s describing someone else, who just shares my name.
But back to the plummy voices for a moment. I have experienced different reactions to my accent. When I taught English in Poland, the students found me easier to understand than any teachers from England. When I teach Bangladeshis they always know what I’m saying. It was the same in South Africa and Zimbabwe – no problem with communication. Padmini – that exalted arbiter of vocal talent – is from India.
The only time over the years that my accent has ever struck someone as a bit difficult is when that someone is English. Oi mate – as far as everyone else is concerned, it’s fine. Could it possibly be, me old China, that it’s you, not me. Time, me old son, to wash out the brigadiers.