It's one of those things we always celebrate at the Beaker Folk - the great richness of our English accents.
Indeed, we sit on one of the great accent divides - between the Cockney tribes to our south and the East English accents to the North and East of us.
But there is one way of speaking that manages a remarkable consistency across great swathes of our green and yellow land. I refer, of course, to the Clergy Voice.
You may at this time be considering a career as a Clergy. Or perhaps you already are a Clergy, but had the misfortune to be born Northern or Brummy. Or possibly you are a notorious con-person, needing to impersonate an Archdeacon in order to swindle some pearls out of a Duchess. Whichever it is, you will need to sound like a convincing Clergy to succeed. And I'm pleased to say I can share the following tips with you.
Emphasis is all-important. Any fool can manage an approximation to Received Pronunciation, but that just identifies you as a member of the down-at-heel Posh Classes.
What makes the real difference is emphasis.
Read that last sentence out loud to yourself, as follows: let the tone of your voice rise on "makes" and "diff". Leave unduly long pauses after "makes" and "difference". Run "is" into "Emph". Stretch out "emph" as long as you can. It should now sound a bit like this.
What makes... the real dif-ference... is-emphfff-asis.
Try this two or three times. If you are doing this on the train, it's about now that you will realise that you're alone in the carriage, and the carriage next door is really crowded. But if you're safely at home, you will be becoming aware that you sound a bit more like a Clergy.
Secondly, learn to identify those words that you can randomly emphasise - either in normal speech, in liturgy or when preaching. Words like "rejoice", "exalt" or "smote" should be shouted out as if they are printed in bold and small-caps. Get it right in church, and the old folk in the back row should rise about three inches into the air. At the other end of the scale, "lament", "repine" or "mourn" should generally die away to a quaver. But this is not an absolute rule! Suddenly shouting out "darkness", when the congregation are thinking that's more of a dying-away-to-a-quaver word, can elevate the back row even up to five or six inches.
If what you're saying has a series of monosyllabic words- you'll be reading from something here, as a Clergy would never normally average below about four syllables per word - try kind of singing it in a monotone. Particularly effective if you discover, to your joy, that there's a "repent" to shout out at the end of the sentence.
And don't forget your "r"s. Any word beginning with an "r" should be rrrrrrolled out as long as you can. Gives a rrrrrremarkable rrrrrrhetorical rrrroundness.
Should you have followed my instructions, you should now be sounding like an authentic country or small-town Clergy. But maybe this isn't enough for you? Maybe you aspire to being the Clergy of a well-heeled trendy suburban evangelical church? In that case, just follow this one easy step. Go to Eton.