Sunday Larf – Bobby Thompson

From time to time you may struggle to understand what The Little Waster is saying, his accent is a mix of Co Durham and South Tyneside and the phrases that he uses are very reminiscent of those which my wife’s mother’s family used, they all being brought up in similar pit villages to those which Bobby Thompson grew up in.

When I moved to Newcastle in 1977 it really was like moving to a foreign land and it became obvious very quickly that there were several flavours of what most people would immediately label as “Geordie”, my job involved visiting many building sites in the region and speaking and socialising with our electricians all of whom worked in teams from their own localities, and so I came to easily recognise the Teeside and the Co Durham accent as being two totally separate dialects and neither being classed as “Geordie” at all by a Newcastle resident.

The Sunderland dialect had to be pointed out to me by a genuine Geordie on a site in Newcastle one day and it was done so in the manner of someone reminding you not to step in dog shit, and just when I thought I had started to finally understand what people were saying to me for the majority of time, they sent me up to Ashington, a place where even Geordies don’t understand the locals.

I saw Bobby Thompson perform on at least one occasion, he was an old man then but a brilliant comedian, I need say no more other than the man was treated as a God within the North East Working Mens Club circuit but he never seemed to travel well outside of the North East – compare his delivery and accent to, say, Ross Noble, and you can see straight away just how diluted the North East pitman dialect has become.

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