The best thing about the Euros? Hearing regional accents on TV

England's Harry Maguire celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game during the UEFA Euro

England's Harry Maguire celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game against Ukraine - Credit: PA

It was a relief there was no time added at the end of England’s 4-0 thrashing of Ukraine in the quarter-final on Saturday.

Perhaps like me, the referee was keen for the ball-kicking to be over and for the real action to begin.

The fun actually starts when everyone moves away from the pitch and the sports reporters collar the players for a post-game chat.

It’s then that something magical happens, something you rarely see (or hear) on prime time TV: a regional English accent taking centre stage in all it’s melodious glory.

As a Geordie, I’m used to never hearing anyone who sounds like me on television. Pretty much every drama rattled out by the BBC is predictably London or Manchester-centric, with its usual 8 and 9pm shows distinct for their lack of casting diversity.

But football, along with Love Island, is one of the great accent levellers.

I have to be honest: when I hear Jordan Henderson’s dulcet Mackem tones I can feel a massive smile brewing on my face.

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He might be from Sunderland – and if I was back in Gateshead right now I’d have a target on my head from saying this – but at least he sounds like home.

And then you’ve got Sheffield’s Harry Maguire, an unfettered Yorkshireman who unleashed his accent upon us for a good five minutes in Rome. It was so brazenly regional I had a tear in my eye.

Don’t forget Jack Grealish either. Birmingham-born, I clap when I see him warming up because I can’t wait to hear him be interviewed at the end of it all.

The list goes on: Jordan Pickford is from Washington, Kalvin Phillips from Leeds, Jude Bellingham from Dudley and John Stones Barnsley. Performance aside, they are putting their regions and respective accents on the map.

All we’re waiting for now is someone from Norwich to join the squad.

A stock image of traffic

Norfolk was described by Andrew Proctor as a "car county", but we shouldn't have to settle for that in the 21st century - Credit: PA Images

'Car county' needs better public transport

I love Norwich and I’m glad I moved here – but it’s such a shame the countryside beyond the city is essentially off-limits to anyone without a car.

My boyfriend and I came here just before the pandemic.

After being trapped indoors for 18 months, this summer was supposed to be the time we finally explored Norfolk’s stunning beaches, the Broads and countryside.

The only trouble is we can’t get there.

According to Google Maps, the quickest public transport route from Norwich to Wells, for example, is two hours and 11 minutes.

A trip to Downham Market and back from the city would wipe four hours off your day.

To get to London, on the other hand, would take you just 1 hour and 40 minutes.

I’d quite fancy a trip to Beeston Bump, pictured, as I am told it is hilly for Norfolk. But I’d probably have to take a week off work to get there. 

Andrew Proctor, leader of the county council, recently came under fire for saying people need to accept the county’s rural nature means it is a “car county”, and rightly so.

Norfolk needs a more integrated, faster and cheaper public transport system. Anything less doesn’t do it justice.

Is it time to scrap face masks? People in Huntingdonshire don't think so

Boris Johnson has said masks are not compulsory after July 19 in England - Credit: Archant

Why is the government copping out on the mask situation?

If there’s anything the people of the UK have been deprived of in the last 18 months, it’s independent thought.

We were told what we could do, and when we could do it, and we were fined or publicly shamed if we fell astray. That was a good thing. Life has been bad enough – left to our devices, chaos would have ensued.

Well, imagine no longer. This Monday, Boris Johnson announced an end to the era of government-mandated restrictions with the news that masks and social distancing will be scrapped on July 19.

The news is welcome, and unwelcome. A return to normality is a must – and for many, the face mask is quite literally the most intrusive restriction of all.

But what is branded as 'freedom' is in reality the opposite. Though annoying, restrictions are effective. Making them voluntary in settings used by the vulnerable and elderly – such as supermarkets, or public transport – will bring less freedom, not more.

For the young and healthy, it seems like a no-brainer, but they won't be the ones who suffer. If it can save lives and make others comfortable, wearing a face mask in Tesco is a slim price to pay.