the west end and before Broughty Ferry, was another Dundee. It was a
city of adults as short as children and children with old faces, of
drunks in men-only bars, poverty and powerlessness. I was taught –
by my school, my parents, my radio, my television – that nobody
wise should sound as if they came from there. Get a vowel wrong and
somewhere harsh might come to claim you. I learned what so many
children in non-dominant cultures learn – that the inside of your
head was wrong. There was one way of speaking indoors,
another in school and another for the street, while well-meaning
attempts to save children from the prejudices of others left me
feeling inwardly deformed in a muddle of competing languages.
often, what could allow individuals to be polyglot, adaptable, as
linguistically experimental and joyful as Shakespeare’s
many-voiced London, simply leads to silence and insecurity."