Unreal Nature

July 17, 2009

The Horse’s Mouth

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 11:29 am

A few days ago, in a post on Jim Putnam’s blog, he remarked that, “I am amused when I cannot understand what I call the high-brow British accent.” I can only think of one instance where I could not understand a British accent, and it was low-brow, not high-brow. It was Ray Winstone, speaking very slowly during the opening credits of the movie, Sexy Beast. I  thought he was speaking some foreign language because the sounds did not conform to any words that I knew. I was able to follow the rest of the dialog in the movie, but it took an effort.

Then, in Felix Grant’s thoughtful response on his blog to my and Jim Putnam’s series of posts about the US South, Felix says this (responding to my end remark about good food in “strange” places in my Negatives post): “The food may not seem great to every palate, because it is strange (humans have a universal tendency to regard what they know as the norm and difference as deviance) but with familiarity comes appreciation.”

Given those two tie-ins, here is Ray Winstone, demonstrating British accent and his response to unfamiliar food:

I can understand Winstone in that clip. You’ll have to rent the Sexy Beast video if you want to hear what I was unable to parse. (It’s a good movie, but very violent.)




  1. I thought it was going to be lutefisk, but he’s talking about hákarl. I think the story has become embroidered somwwhere along the line; I’m pretty sure cow’s piss isn’t involved.

    Comment by Ray Girvan — July 17, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

  2. Winstone’s accent is fairly broad north east London … at a guess, somewhere in the Clapton, Dalston, Bethnal Green triangle. It’s interesting that many of my friends in California profess to find some comparable metropolitan New York accents impenetrable.

    To Ray’s comment: I suspect that his leg was being pulled. I’ve often been told, more or less everywhere, that what I just ate involved some sort of waste product – just to see what the soft foreigner’s reaction ld be.woud

    Comment by Felix Grant — July 18, 2009 @ 11:25 am

  3. Sorry about the strange ending to the last comment … an emergency occurred, and I hit “submit” by mistake. Final words should have been: “…just to see what the soft foreigner’s reaction would be.”

    Comment by Felix Grant — July 18, 2009 @ 11:28 am

  4. somewhere in the Clapton, Dalston, Bethnal Green triangle
    Yep: according to Wikipedia, born in Homerton.

    Comment by Ray Girvan — July 18, 2009 @ 2:56 pm

  5. BTW, you wouldn’t get that in the south … :)

    But seriously, this does get into social geography. Iceland: weird history. Settlers from (now) Scandinavia moved there. Thought they’d handle it as they’d done at home: cut down trees and start agriculture. Different geology: no trees = soil all blew/washed away. Had to focus on food from fishing. No trees: no fuel for cooking. Hence ghastly dried/rotted fish products.

    Comment by Ray Girvan — July 18, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

  6. Homerton … Homerton … scrabbles through A-Z … Homerton … ah! Homerton!

    Belatedly notices Ray’s Google Maps link .

    Shamefacedly admits: I’ve always called that bit “Hackney”…

    Comment by Felix Grant — July 19, 2009 @ 3:33 am

  7. Well, to me, Homerton is indelibly the teacher training college at Cambridge, but I assumed he wouldn’t have learned to speak like that there.

    Comment by Ray Girvan — July 19, 2009 @ 10:26 am

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