“Be not afraid of Greenwich, some are born Greenwich, some achieve Greenwich and others have Greenwich thrust upon them…” *

Sue and I have been discussing ways to tell if someone is a true Greenwichian or a happy incomer who has found Paradise in the Land of a Thousand Domes…

I guess you could say you were Greenwichian if you were born within the sound of St Alfege’s Bells, but they don’t ring very often. It would be most inconvenient to be born at a time there’s no campanological practice. Christ Church’s always-slightly-late chimes, then? Hmm. Maybe.

Sue reckons there’s an easy way to tell a Born-Greenwichian. She says:

“Locals (including me) call it “Grinnidge” but immigrants to the fair borough and the people who make the announcements on the train and the DLR pronounce it “Grenitch”.

I am in accord. My elderly uncle always used to call it Grinnidge. (He also had a sweet tooth and enjoyed a nice slab of ‘nuggit’ from time to time.) I, neither to my shame nor otherwise, have always called it Grenitch (and enjoyed the occasional nugget of noogar.) Both are wrong, considering its spelling – even my pagan pals don’t call it green-witch.

Sue continues:

“The other thing about the local accent is the aaaaas. My north London friend is fascinated by the number of “as” I can place in the middle of a word. He says it sounds like hay without the h.”

Interesting that many Greenwichian accents seem to owe more to rural Kent than Sarf London. Some people say they can tell the difference between accents from Greenwich, Charlton, Woolwich etc. I confess I wouldn’t be able to but Sue says that a few trips to the terraces at The Valley should help me out. And I do intend to put my aversion to all kinds of sport to one side next season and actually attend a Charlton match, just so I can say I’ve done it. Oh – and listen to all those different accents, of course.

Thing is, I’m not totally convinced that you actually need to be born in Greenwich to be a true Greenwichian. In fact it’s entirely possible you don’t even need to live here. Like the rest of London, Greenwich is now a cosmopolitan place. Being born here is cool – but that isn’t the only way. I am coming to the opinion that Greenwich, like New York, is a State of Mind. You merely have to allow Greenwich into your heart (ooh – that sounds a bit creepy and evangelical…nah, I’ll let it go…) to be a True Greenwichian.

So today, I would like suggestions for what makes someone ‘a true Greenwichian.’ And, indeed, ideas for a Person-of-Greenwich noun less wanky than ‘Greenwichian…’

* from the First Folio edition of “Twelfth Night.” Censored by the Lord Chamberlain as being ‘offensive to people not from Greenwich,’ it was replaced in later editions by the synonym “greatness.”

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