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Someone once asked me to.describe his accent.
I said it sounded vaguely underwater.
So he used to sound like someone who was born in that area, which he was? Shocking.
Anyway, to me Neil sounds a lot like Benedict Cumberbatch. Or rather, Cumberbatch sounds a lot like Neil Gaiman. Make of that what you will.
Except he wasn’t born in Sussex but 80 miles away in Hampshire. He lived there in Porchester until he was five before his family moved to East Grinstead in Sussex where he had been living for just two years before this interview.
In the past there were regional accents specific to Hampshire and Sussex (indeed distinct variations in different parts of those counties). But by the 1960s they were dying out and largely confined to rural parts of those counties (Porchester is primarily a suburb of Portsmouth which used to have it’s own distinct accent, East Grinstead a small town). More significantly in the early 1960s local dialect accents were not at all common among middle class children (the fashion for adopting local dialect or working-class accents rather than ‘Received Pronunciation’ (RP) didn’t start until some years later).
I’ve listened to this a couple of times and frankly I can’t hear anything that suggests Sussex specifically, but then while I lived in Sussex for three years I’m no kind of expert. I’m not suggesting Gaiman didn’t pick up some vocal inflections from other children. But the touches of non-RP that can be heard are more likely to be the product of the sort of vocal ‘mirroring’ common to children fitting into a peer group than the product of some authentic cultural background. Even if that wasn’t already somewhat unlikely given his families background, class and involvement in a fairly insular community.
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