Loot for our local vocals

According to a survey by the Aziz Corporation, businessmen (we must assume this includes businesswomen as well) from the South-West who speak "with a West-country accent" are considered to be more honest and trustworthy than anyone else in England. Not Scotland, apparently. Speak as if you have a haggis in your sporran, and you sound even more honest and trustworthy.

But ooh-arr, ooh-arr, we be telling no porkies down yer. That's how it strikes "25 per cent of UK directors". The other 75 per cent presumably think we're lying our teeth off, my lover.

This is another golden opportunity. It means that we have a chance to get hold of a huge proportion of the business managers in the country, and flog them anything we don't want, and, what is more, they'll believe every utter whopper that filters through our lips.

Now therefore is the chance to make a killing. Let's face it, we need the cash down here. The Council should set up a few South West Invormation Zenters (SWIZ for short), to see how much we can con out of the rest of the country. According to local hotelier Simon Preece, the region is buzzing. So let's get the phone-lines buzzing as well.

Brrring, brrring! Brrring, brrring!

CALLER: Is that the SWIZ?

SWIZ OPERATOR: Aharrr, excuse me, my darling, while I be taking this straw out of my ear.

CALLER: Is there any chance of investing in your region? I have a mind to do some trading with the far-flung regions of our island home. I am from the Home Counties.

SWIZ OPERATOR: Where be they to?

CALLER: Oh, near a frightfully big place called London. What is it like where you live?

SWIZ OPERATOR: It is land overflowing with milk and honey...


SWIZ OPERATOR: Wait, Oi in't finished yet. Milk and honey, and gold and diamond mines, and sheep that jumps through great fiery hoops when you whistles.

CALLER: Are there any investment opportunities?


CALLER: Did you say "Och aye"?

SWIZ OPERATOR: Arrrrr, oi did, zurrrr. That's because I be just a little old bit Scottish as well as West-country.

CALLER: I say! I say! I say!

SWIZ OPERATOR: Be you a comedian, zurrrr?

CALLER: Pardon? We were talking about investment opportunity, existence of.

SWIZ OPERATOR: We be full of it, zurrr. Down yer, 'tis a chance to make your first million.

CALLER: Second, in fact.

SWIZ OPERATOR: Hoots, the noo! We has a beach in this rrrrrregion, zurrr, and 'tis empty as a cider flagon at sundown. It could do with zum of they Hotels and such, for we is crying out forrrr places for our Fifteen Million Tourists to stay.

CALLER: Fifteen Million?

SWIZ OPERATOR: 'Twill be Sixteen afore the morning, Oi reckon.

CALLER: Where is this impoverished stretch of seaside, my good man?

SWIZ OPERATOR: 'Tis called Torquay. Rrrripe for developing. The sands is flat and pink as the feathers of that there flamingo which is native to our sun-kissed and undiscovered paradise, where hula-hula girls do wring the ice-cream straight from the bulging udders of our pedigree cattle. Which has, zurrr, horns of perfect ivory, which they do shed each springtime near the bulging pearl-beds of Tavistock, mine's a pint o' heavy, pal.

CALLER: Pearl-beds?

SWIZ OPERATOR: Full of pearls. In which they do often find, zurrr, oysters as big as pasties.

CALLER: And you say there are no hotels? None?

SWIZ OPERATOR: None, zurrr. There bain't none at all, since the very beginning of time itself, for we has only thatched inns and the like.

CALLER: Golly! How may one implement some inward investment, my good fellow? My portfolio is highly proactive, businesswise, and I am eager to action plan for a retail catchment enterprise zone. Surely there is tremendous demand.

SWIZ OPERATOR: You'm the first to call, my lover, although Oi sees from the swizboard that there be another few hundred as is queuing. 'Tis lucky you rang.

CALLER: Great heavens, I must act quickly. In what denomination do you deal?

SWIZ OPERATOR: Money, my sweetheart, provided 'tis in plastic. Us has no use at all for that folding stuff down yer. 'Tis only good for feeding the very rare indeed moor-geese, as do lay golden eggs down near the silk plantations.

CALLER: Visa or Mastercard?

SWIZ OPERATOR: Both please, zurrr. If us gets them both in the post within five working days, then the contract will be written for 'ee in two shakes of a local griffin's feather. And a bonny wee hogmanay, aharrrr.

You see? It'll be as simple as that. Our attractively dulcet and obviously honest tones, cut with a little Highlander, will enable us to sell the rights to build a fair at Widdecombe; a Hoe at Plymouth; a Cob at Lyme Regis; two moors; a winding cobbled, and almost vertical street at Clovelly; a surfer's dream at Newquay; a medieval Cathedral in Exeter; and customs posts on the M5 at Taunton and Willand.

Because of course, what we shall insist upon as part of the deal is using our own tried and trusted contractors. The owners will come down expectantly, and find the South West Peninsula of their imaginations, i.e. just as we have described it to them.

They will be flabbergasted and delighted in equal measure, and it would be only kind to prevent them ever finding out they have been conned. A short trip on one of the lifeboats they have "paid" for, a whack over the back of the head with some local lobster, and no-one need ever know. Their colleagues in The Other Regions will assume they have been permanently seduced by our thriving culture, and we can get on with repeating the whole sting.

In no time at all, I tell you, we will be rich, rich, rich.

In the meantime, could we all practise that strong, attractive and highly reputable burr a little harder. Some of the local residents have been heard recently speaking like "toffs" - a hangover, perhaps, from the con worked on the university students a few months ago.

Or, put it another way, get your "r"s in gear.

Bill Greenwell

From Express and Echo