Monday morning and Mass at St Edward King and Confessor in Clifford. I share my pew with a man who welcomes me warmly with a voice redolent of the playwright Alan Bennett. In this part of Yorkshire people of a certain age refuse to yield an inch of diction to Estuary English. Consonants remain as firm as a Geoffrey Boycott forward defensive stroke.
The clarity of enunciation in God’s Own County may, historically, have been a legacy of work in the textile mills. Clear communication was needed to counter the din of the loom. There were strong accents, of course, but no glottal stops. Not if you wanted to avoid painful contact with a stray bobbin.
Walk around Leeds, Halifax or Sheffield now, though, and your hearing is assailed by upswings. The dialect is recognisably northern. But the rhythms of speech – to my ears, at least – hail not from Emmerdale, but EastEnders.
I am in North Yorkshire as the guest of a banker friend. He is highly chuffed with his new Land Rover. It is not yet driverless, but the onboard technology hints at the direction of travel for all of us. The car does a lot of thinking for you. As we motor down a darkened rural A-road outside York, the full-beam lights switch off automatically when the car identifies an approaching car which would otherwise be dazzled. Clever stuff.
My pal, to his credit, says the feature that won him over was not the robotics, but the hook in the passenger footwell. It was installed, he claims, because Land Rover drivers wanted somewhere to hang their Indian takeaway bags without the contents spilling everywhere.
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