Today’s itinerary includes the production and publishing of website prose, a gym session, a pharmacist visit and choir rehearsal. Events ensuring I’ll spent my next few hours in the company of creativity, perspiration, medication and enthusiastically delivered warbling….. And that’s just when I’m writing!

Seriously, though, the penmanship and choir attendance undertaken as vehicles towards improving my mental health wellbeing – The gym and medication necessary for yours truly’s physical efficacy, their remit the aspired combatting of cardio-vascular flow latency.

The first bullet point on the itinerary is this narrative, which I’m journaling from my usual domaine d’ecriture; a coffee house in a south Leeds shopping centre.

A place where ordinarily I’m able to banish background noise while navigating through a creative domain where so focussed I’m able to shut out aural distractions. A skill only normally breached when writing at home when, much to my chagrin, the writer’s conscious mind is somehow unable to shut out any interruptions introduced by mother’s dulcet West Yorkshire tones.

Footnote – I’m going to have to make the effort not to address Mrs Strachan senior as mother. On reflection, it’s a bit too Norman Batesish for my liking!

Akin to mater’s inquisitive orations, today I’ve been unable to shut out distractions from a Glaswegian accented women’s voice. This Scottish lady sat gabbing with her party at volume, a situation not helped by the fact she’s perched on an adjacent table.

Yours truly can only posit why I was unable to shut out this woman’s chatter. Maybe her cacophonous distractions were more noticeable as the consequence of the broad Clydesside dialect. Locutions delivered to her fellow coffee buddies with, what appeared to me, unnecessary amplification.

I’m no Henry Higgins***, a man able to identify with pinpoint accuracy the preciser  location where an individual originates. Consequently, I’m unable to make informed comment on accents. Maybe, though, it’s a fact the stronger and louder UK dialects, such as Glaswegian or Northern Irish, are just naturally harder to ignore….. Something I need to bear in mind should I suddenly acquire aspirations of writing uninterrupted in the Goebbels or Bangor.

*** – Henry Higgins – Fictional professor of phonetics in the movies Pygmalion and My Fair Lady.


Spending twenty seven years in the place of my roots (Leeds), along with twenty fledgling years in Gateshead (ninety miles north of my birthplace), in middle-age my accent has evolved into an amalgam of West Yorkshire and Tyneside patois.

This hybrid dialect resulting in new acquaintances frequently struggling to pinpoint where I originate….. To be honest, though, I myself are unable to respond with any real comfort/certainty when confronted by the enquiry “Where you from?!”

Although not learning this until middle-age, I’d opine that ultimately it’s not important which area of the UK you deem as home. Surely, what bears far more distinction are the lessons absorbed from those particular existential domains, in association with how you act upon them. I’ve learned the hard way mentally that providing for your family, possessing humanity and seeking to better yourself significantly usurp any tribalistic want.

If I respond Gateshead or Leeds when asked “Where are you from?” isn’t important at all. If truth be told, I’ve no idea how to answer the enquiry anyhow; because to my mind there isn’t a wholly accurate retort.

After all, are you ‘from’ your birthplace, area which bear centuries of roots and where you’ve resided for most of your adult life; or is the ‘correct’ response to the enquiry the domain you spent your fledgling years and were educated?….. The resultant identity crisis troubling me for many years. Thankfully, though, experience has taught me the folly of such angst.

The tougher ‘real problems’ that’ve confronted me in the last decade, such as two lengthy familial cancer fights, my heart attack and collapse of my marriage, have taught me many valuable lessons. One being there’s been numerous things I’ve mithered about over the years which were completely and utterly unimportant……. Circumstances I’ll endeavour not to be repeat for the remainder of my time on this dysfunctional planet.

“I don’t know who I am right now. But I know who I’m not. And I like that.”
Amber Smith, The Way I Used to Be