Tuesday, 9 December 2014
An Alien in the Away End
I was having a pint and a chat in Loftus Road before the Manchester City match when a fellow City fan in his late twenties strode over purposefully and said in his unmistakably modern Mancunian accent, "Just keep yer eyes open for the stewards while I 'ave a p*ss in this corner, will yer."
Two things: we were stood three paces from the entrance to the gents; and I didn't want to be standing in pool of urine behind me while I finished my beer.
So I blocked the path of the caught-short lad and said with a smile, "Hold on a minute, we're better than that. Don't go in the corner. It'll stink and make a right mess. The gents is right there. Do us all a favour."
There was a bit of a to-and-fro while the worse-for-wear bloke weighed up his options. Then he said, "What are you doing at this game anyway? You're not from Manchester. How d'you get tickets for the match?"
"I certainly am from Manchester," I huffed.
"Well you don't sound like it. Whereabouts?"
"I'm from Chorlton. And I've been going to City matches home and away since before you were born," I said, sounding exactly like the distinguished grey-haired gentleman that I am.
"You're not from Chorlton. I don't know how people like you get tickets."
This hilarious banter continued for a while before we tapped our plastic pint glasses together affably and he headed to the officially designated latrine.
Now, I haven't lived in Manchester for twenty years and doubtless my accent has had the edges knocked off it by decades of London. But If you asked me to say, "A cup of coffee and a bath bun, please" - you could probably tell that I grew up north of Cheshire.
But what is true is that I sound nothing like the youngish Mancunians who now follow City around the country. They have all adopted the comedy Manchester accent invented Definitely Maybe by Oasis in the mid-90s:
"Y'aright, ow's it goin? A'need some time in the sun-shee-ine. For f**k's sake, Citeh - get a grip. Yaa Yaa, you lazy c*nt - moove, moove. Navas! Navas! You're sh*te, mate. Shake Mansour went t'Spain in a Lambergeeni, he brought us back a manager, Manuel Pellegreeni! London's a sh*thole, I wanna go hoe-m."
And I've left out most of the expletives in case my mum's reading.
When I went to school in Chorlton and Moss Side in the 70s and 80s, nobody I knew spoke like that. Not my mum and dad, my aunties and uncles, my schoolmates - nobody. There were rumours that voices had more of a twang in nearby Wythenshawe or way out east in Gorton, but my grandad was from neighbouring Drolysden - which is about a mile from the Etihad Stadium - and he sounded nothing like it. He sounded like a Mancunian northerner like the rest of us.
So what changed? The cult of Madchester music, the Hacienda, Shaun Ryder effing away on TFI Friday, Terry Christian on The Word, The Stone Roses at Spike Island, Oasis becoming the biggest band in the world, the Gallaghers becoming the loudest City fans in the world, Paul Abbott's Shameless on Channel 4 - they all very publicly amplified and exaggerated the way most Mancunians speak and it seeped through the city like the endless rain.
So much so that I sound like an alien in the away end. I'm taking my passport with me from now on.