Yesterday, I went to see Andy on the Cressingham Gardens estate in Tulse Hill, SW2, which – as he informed me – is not the same as Brixton, SW9.
Andy is a born and bred South-west Londoner: born in Wimbledon and raised in Clapham Junction. ‘It makes me quite upset when people call me a Cockney’, he laughs.
Even though he reckons he has a good ear for subtle accent differences, it is nowhere near his mum’s, who could tell the difference between a Putney, a Wimbledon, and a Battersea accent. Andy says he ‘really likes London urban English’, because of ‘how words and phrases get compressed. It is more effective, and it just sounds nicer’ than other London accents.
Andy has not just been a resident on the estate for 15 years but also an active researcher into re-generation in Southwest London, a topic close to his heart as the survival of the estate has come under threat. Andy – together with other neighbours – is an ardent campaigner to save Cressingham Gardens from demolition by Lambeth Council. The estate has been a life-long home for a peaceful and (linguistically) diverse community, providing affordable living space in a calm area next to Brockwell Park. Having met some of its residents, I can only encourage everyone with a couple of pounds to spare to help them in their cause: Gofundme_save Cressingham Gardens.