Recently I read that within 15 years the true London or "cockney" accent will be extinct. Immigration, the influence of film & music and the "Americanisation" of society will leave the Pearly Kings & Queens of the East End and the true cockney sparrows who were born within the sound of Bow Bells as dead as a Dodo.
There will no more rhyming slang, no more "apples & pears" and certainly no more "how's ya father". The Eliza Doolittle's and the Artful Dodgers of the East End will mostly be dead and buried or they will have sold up and moved out to the suburbs.
The only reference we will have for a cockney accent will be Dick Van Dyke and his dropped vowel romancing of Mary Poppins.
Heaven forbid "Eastenders' ever gets cancelled, it'll mean the end of "popping down the boozer" or "'avin a cuppa tea".
The word on the streets is it looks like the chirpy cockney has finally met his Ice Age.
The older I get the more I have become aware of my accent, my vocabulary and how I use both of them. I have never learned or wanted to learn how to watch my mouth, I prefer to watch other peoples. Occasionally I'll look in the mirror and I see my lips moving but I am far too busy talking to ever watch my P's & Q's. I sometimes forget to sound my T's and I also have a tendency to drop my H's (aitches) but I'm pretty sure I speak the Queens English (if the Queen had grown up on an East End council estate). Speaking like a cockney sparrow will disarm people and they will look at you with fascination, amusement or wild, all consuming lust.
Sometimes it will be all three.
I've always tried to stay true to who I am by never losing my accent, it used to become even more pronounced if I found myself in the company of pretentious people or social climbers. I could quite easily slip into a caricature of an East End barrow boy, which was great for my sex life but it can hinder a career, especially as I wanted to read the early evening news. I could have got the gig as a weather man on a pay per view channel but reading an auto cue about fuel shortages and worldwide famine in the style of Ray Winstone was never going to carry me far.
Eliza Doolittle may have gone upwardly mobile from flower girl to lady but barrow boy to "News at 10" is too far a leap.
If you fancy yourself as Pygmalion it's always best to underplay your language skills in the first place. Nobody likes a rags to riches story if it turns out your humble beginnings were more country pile than tower block and a fake London accent is just as bad as a pretend gentrified one.
The way we speak can open doors or cause them to be slammed in our faces. My accent isn't threatening or intimidating (unless I'm wearing a balaclava and carrying a gun) and although it isn't as pronounced as when I was younger, it's pretty obvious that I could be up for a part in a Guy Ritchie movie. I like my cockney accent. It disarms people and it can sometimes help to catch people off guard.
"You're a cockney with a brain?" Well I never!
I've also learned to temper my language as I've grown older and I know that a little bit of profanity goes a long way - you just have to choose your dirty words very carefully. Effing this and effing that will only make you sound effing stupid. Royalty and babies are the only people who make swearing fun so unless you're wearing a tiara or a diaper there's no need to pepper your personality with profanity. Posh people can sometimes get away with swearing because although they make it sound awfully polite, they also make it sound terribly filthy. Whenever I hear a posh person swear I immediately think of them naked, except for a pair of riding boots and a top hat, and sometimes they are in a stable eating a bale of hay.
Your accent says a lot about you and if you suddenly lose it or it becomes affected then the only message you're going to be sending across is that you're false and trying too hard. I'm all for self improvement but not at the expense of my character.
Whatever your accent it shouldn't really matter. It's what you say that counts and I've had a lot of people tell me that when they read my writing it's like I am talking to them, that they feel they can really hear my true voice. . . .
Which is really rather lovely.
Except I'd never say "oh, that's really rather lovely".
I'm more likely to say "oh, fanks mate but you shouldn't really believe every fing you read".
(Before you call the spelling police, read it aloud, it's the way I talk, innit).