Mine started a long time ago. When I started at Oxford in the late 80s someone told me, ‘You can’t possibly be studying English at Oxford with an accent like that!’ This came hot on the heels of a teacher at a study week telling me ‘The northern accent is generally associated with being thick.’ I now teach on the outskirts of Birmingham and it’s lovely listening to some of my A level language students who are really proud of their accent despite the prejudice they encounter. Same kind of things I was getting back then.
While working as a waitress in Spain I was once asked by a fellow Englishman if I had ferrets and lived on a farm because I was from the north.
Also while working at the same job another English customer told me ‘oh, you’re actually quite intelligent despite your stupid northern accent’.
While working as an English teacher in Spain, a student once asked me why I didn’t ‘autocorrect myself and at least try to speak in standard English’.
I grew up in the South East, in and around Royal Tunbridge Wells. I went to university up north and uni friends, housemates and course-mates (vast majority Northerners) would often remark on the way I pronounced things, particularly the classics like ‘grass’ and ‘bath’. One person would repeat the word/phrase in an over-done RP accent and the rest of the group (including me, most of the time) would get a bit of a giggle out of it. People would often assume I had loads of money and my family were landed gentry or Viscounts or something.
I went to the ‘second’ university in the town (an ex-polytechnic) and, interestingly, people I met who didn’t know that, would assume that I went to the ‘primary’ university in the town, renowned for being (better) and with higher entry requirements.
Definitely found myself inadvertently adopting a bit of a Northern twang by the time I got to third year!
My current headteacher told the rest of SLT that she’d rather I didn’t read out in assemblies due to my ‘flat Northern voice’. I insisted. Ever since, I’ve been told by teachers I do the best assemblies.