Comedian Paddy Gervers gives his chat in this week's Stand column. 


MY accent was buried with my mother. I know that’s an odd start to an article (to be honest it’s an odd thing to say at any time, full stop) but please bear with me and allow me to explain.

“I am Scottish.” That’s what I used to tell everyone – but now I shy away from it. I won’t say I’m English (because I’m not), but my voice betrays me, and the assumption that I am will always be there because of the sounds I make with my face. It used to be easy to tell people I was Scottish when I was a kid, as I had all the hallmarks of a somewhat Scandinavian-rooted Scot (I’m looking at you, early Viking colonisers), and a chirpy little accent to boot. I miss that.

My parents met in Aberdeen in the early 70s. Mum was a thunderbolt from Clan Morrison, Dad more of a gentle snowfall from Clan Gunn. I think Dad was dating Anneka Rice at the time but that’s either just the sort of thing dads say or definitely the subject of a very different article. Love, marriage, moving all over the globe and three kids later, I was born. Down (shudder) south in very-much-not-so-bonnie England. My dad’s accent had softened to a lilt, but mum’s was still a gale force wind. It’s an easy choice to imagine which one stuck in my head and began to take shape.

In 1998, my mother very sadly passed away and, not being a family who traditionally “talked” about things, we did everything we could to not have to look our new reality in the eyes. For me, part of that manifested in my voice. I didn’t even notice it happening.

We didn’t visit Scotland as much, and the trips to Glasgow, Balfron, Stirling and Aberdeen became few and far between as we simultaneously, unknowingly, begrudgingly settled into being “English”.

Years later, my dad decided it was time for him and I to go and see our family in Glasgow. I use family in a loose sense here, as they are a collection of blood relatives, honorary aunts and uncles, old mates and pub locals – but they are 100% family.

Glasgow Times:

I hadn’t seen most of them since I was very little and I was a small, nervous teenager with a habit for suppressing memories. As we knocked on a door in the Gorbals, a cacophony of beautiful voices from my past erupted from the other side and the portal to my past opened up.

There were hugs and jokes, surrounded by smoke and half-remembered memories. “Uncle” Pete held court, waving his cigarillo in the two-remaining fingers of his right hand (bandsaw accident) and waxing lyrical about “having us back from the south” and us “finally being home”. Everyone wanted to talk about the old days with Mum – but when I opened my mouth and started to do so, there was the question.

“What happened to your accent?”

Not in a fun way, in a genuine “hang on, you’re different now” sort of way. We shrugged it off and kept enjoying ourselves, but it kept coming back. “You don’t sound like you used to”, “the south has changed you”, “you used to sound like us”. I want to make it clear, it was never mean-spirited, just fact. It stuck with me though. I was welcomed with entirely open arms, as a Scot, but it stuck with me.

We gig in Scotland a lot now. It’s the best place to gig. That slice of home and fix of what really matters in people – I still feel it here. I want to jump up and wave my arms, joining in with the Scotland I love shouting “me too, me too, I’m Scottish!” – but I’ve never felt brave enough.

No-one wants to come across as a play-pretend plastic Scot, especially a comedian. Scotland is inundated with us on a yearly basis, all trying to get our foot in the door and say “oh I’m a bit Scottish actually” or try our hand at the accent to set us apart from the crowd. It must be incredibly infuriating. I stay schtum.

Every now and then it gets brought up that I’m Scottish, and it’s nearly always an English person that is the first to say “no you’re not”, or worse, “prove it”. A Scot has never told me I’m not. Never asked me to prove it. Just accepted it and welcomed it.

Deep down everyone wants to be Scottish. I am Scottish. Why am I so afraid of saying it? Is it because I’m terrified I’m going to sound like an ashamed Englishman, struggling for validation by trying to appropriate someone else’s culture? What should I do?, seriously what should I do? This is an Agony Aunt column, right? ...right?