In “What’s Wrong with Twinkling Buttocks?” Theodore Dalrymple bemoaned the vulgarization of Britain — the “unbridled hedonism that leads in short order to chaos and misery, especially among the poor.” There’s no need to read the diatribe, since the essence of it is preserved in this brief letter.
Dalrymple is back, this time suffering from “accent rage.” It seems the announcement that he used to hear upon dialing a wrong number was delivered by “a lady [with] a cultivated and velvety voice.” So delightful was the woman’s voice and enunciation, in fact, that Dalrymple was “tempted to redial the unrecognisable number”
until he reached orgasm “just to listen to her all over again.” Now, he says:
The lady has been replaced by a mere woman, who speaks in an adenoidal voice that brings to mind the Isle of Dogs on a wet Sunday afternoon. Every time I hear her, I want to scream and smash the phone….
Maybe I am growing paranoid, but I believe there is an attempt in this country gradually to supplant received pronunciation….
[I]n railway stations that have no compunction about using as announcers incomprehensible Nigerians and Punjabis for whom English is their seventh language, the announcements giving the good news that the stations are no-smoking areas and that something nasty will happen to those who infringe this regulation is always given in what one might call exaggerated standard pronunciation, just as in Hollywood films the cultivated English voice always stands for unspeakable evil.