Henceforth, all witnesses should talk like Fiona Hill

No, I’m not just talking about the accent, although I would love that.

And it wouldn’t have to be her specific Northern-English accent, either. I’d settle for a nice, posh RP mode of speech, which for a brief second was what I thought she was using — she just has such an authoritative delivery that it came across as upper-class until I’d listened a moment.

Or failing that, perhaps a thick Cockney — say, Michael Caine or even more so. Or Scouse — think of any one of the Beatles, especially George.

That would really liven the proceedings, and make me want to listen. But I don’t mean merely to indulge my unabashed Anglophilia. I’d love to hear a Scottish accent, a la Fiona Ritchie. (A Scottish ancestress of my wife was accused of witchcraft back in the 1650s, although eventually released. I suspect her guilt, in the sense that I find few sounds more bewitching than a woman speaking with a Scottish accent.)

Or Welsh. I seldom hear a true Welsh accent, and would like to become more acquainted with it. Especially since family lore holds that the Warthens were Welsh (although to my great frustration, I’ve been unable to nail that down).

Better yet, given the topic of these proceedings, how about having a witness who lays out all the facts in a true Ukrainian accent? That could be edifying.

But I digress…

Back to where I started: It’s not about the accent. Tonight, my wife was watching a rerun of Dr. Hill’s testimony and remarked that she seemed the most intelligent witness she’d heard yet.

I don’t think that’s a matter of accent. After all, while she sounds as educated as she is, those Northern tones — she’s from County Durham, the daughter of a coal miner and a nurse, educated at the University of St Andrews — tend to be looked-down-upon, historically, by the Southron snobs in London.

No, it’s the fact that she knows what she’s talking about.

Like most of these witnesses, she’s a professional, a person of obvious expertise and discernment. The accent just serves as a garnish, calling extra attention to the fact this is not your average idiot at the end of the bar holding forth on what his gut doth dictate.

She — like Vindman and Taylor as so many of these people, and so unlike Nunes and Jordan — is the embodiment of what Trump and his supporters despise. They are, as I said, people who know what they are talking about, and have this country’s best interests at heart. It radiates from them; it’s undeniable.

They are, in short, the anti-Trumps.

And I want to hear more from them, and less from some of those idiots on the committees. I doubt Fiona Hill could get elected to Congress from any district in the country. And that’s the country’s loss. And an indictment of democracy as practice in the 21st century.

I want to hear more from her. And people like her. They give me hope for the country, hope for humanity…


28 thoughts on “Henceforth, all witnesses should talk like Fiona Hill

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, the accent is the thing that grabs me, no doubt.

      But then, there’s the other stuff, which she shares with other witnesses who do NOT have cool accents…

  1. bud

    Ok. So if she has a thick southern drawl but says the exact same words does she still get high praise? Her accent is entirely irrelevant. So why bring it up?

      1. bud

        The accent just serves as a garnish, calling extra attention to the fact this is not your average idiot at the end of the bar holding forth on what his gut doth dictate.

        So you’re saying the average idiot at the end of the bar couldn’t speak in a British accent. I can only conclude that the accent makes her smarter. Is that an intuition thing to reach such a ridiculous conclusion? Go back and watch Georgian Sally Yates testify in her southern accent. She was pretty sharp and believable.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      But beyond the fact that you missed my point… why bring up accents? Because it gives me joy. I love hearing an interesting accent, and dwelling on the fact.

      They’ve always been kind of a thing for me, probably because of the way I grew up — moving around hearing different accents and languages…

      When I was younger, I was very, very good at mimicking accents. I could sound like anybody, from anywhere. It was a little weird. Sometimes, unconsciously, I would adjust my speech to where I was imitating the accent of the person to whom I was speaking. I’d catch myself doing it and stop, worried the person might take it as an insult. But I never meant it that way. I just found different manners of speech fascinating.

      I doubt I was ever as good at it as this kid, but I was pretty good.

      Nowadays, I really have to work up to an accent. I can’t turn on a dime; I need to warm up.

      I enjoyed doing an RP accent several years ago for the stage adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice.” But my character, Sir William Lucas, didn’t have many lines. But I enjoyed doing practice sessions with our speech coach, an Englishwoman. She’d sit off in a corner with three or four of us and just have us read a few pages of dialogue, and critique us.

      At one point I was reading the part of Mr. Collins, and as I read on and on I could tell I was getting better as I got used to being in that mode. Mr. Collins had enough dialogue that I could get into the accent better than with my own character.

      And I was very proud when the coach stopped me and said my accent was very good. And I was like, “I’ve still got it!”…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        But I still have a trace of that bad habit of mimicking people.

        It took me by surprise one day in Killarney, during our visit to Ireland in the spring.

        We were in a shop looking for little souvenirs for the grandchildren, and trying not to spend too much, since the trip itself had set us back so much. We were looking for a tee shirt for my grandson, and we’d looked at enough of them that I was getting a sense of the prices.

        Then I pointed to a really nice one — a Kerry Gaelic football jersey like this one — but I told my wife it was probably at the high end of the range we were shooting for. I guessed aloud that it might be 25 euro.

        The man who worked in the shop corrected me: “No, dat’s TURTY-foive.”

        Before I could catch myself, I exclaimed, “TURTY-foive?”

        He just said “Yeah,” like he hadn’t noticed….

      2. Norm Ivey

        Sometimes, unconsciously, I would adjust my speech to where I was imitating the accent of the person to whom I was speaking.

        I am moved by Hispanic accents in much the same way you are by Anglo accents. And I used to do this same thing as an adolescent. I didn’t even realize it until I complained to a friend that this girl I was hitting on just didn’t seem to like me very much.

        “Maybe if you didn’t make fun of her accent every time you talk to her…”

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I read Scripture in Spanish at Mass from time to time. Whenever I’m scheduled to do it, I have to practice not only my pronunciation, but my accent.

          Which makes me feel bad, since when I was a kid I spoke Spanish without a gringo accent of any kind. And I was very proud of that.

          The thing is, I can get it back, but I have to warm up those facial muscles to get to where it sounds right.

          It’s still not great, but after I’ve read the reading over six or seven times aloud at home, I feel like I can do it without embarrassing myself TOO much…

  2. Barry

    Right wing network’s White House correspondent


    “Fiona Hill with that Prince Andrew accent, and ‘Defense Minister’ Vindman from the Ukraine…” she wrote, referencing Hill’s Northern English birthplace and Vindman’s birth in the Soviet Union.

    Vindman fled to the United States in 1979. He is a Purple Heart recipient, who has served the U.S. army since 1999.

    Hill became a U.S. citizen in 2002, before serving on the National Intelligence Council under President George W. Bush. She then worked for the Trump Administration as a Russia advisor starting in 2017.


  3. Norm Ivey

    I enjoyed hearing what she had to say to the committee as well.

    Please don’t do this ridiculous thing that our adversary so wants you to do.

    OK. But what about this Ukrainian interference in our elections?

    I fear we’re at the beginning of a long, slow slide into irrelevancy.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Speaking of long, slow slides into irrelevancy…

      Been watching The Crown on Netflix. It took Britain awhile to slide from its pre-eminent position in the world, although there were times (and we’re living through one now), when it has seemed to be sliding at a breakneck pace.

      Still… I wouldn’t call Britain (or England, as it’s liable to be reduced to ere long) irrelevant. It’s just greatly reduced from what it was….

      1. David T

        I stopped watching about 3/4 the way through the first season. The show is extremely slow moving and boring, about like watching paint dry or grass grow slow.

  4. Bill

    Mr Rogers loved G.I.JOE dolls and puppets
    but was never popular with anybody until NOW
    Tom Hanks is a hack

    1. Norm Ivey

      As a kid who grew up enjoying Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, The Electric Company and Zoom on PBS (including for years after I outgrew them), I have to disagree with you. He is simply experiencing a resurgence of popularity.

      He was the commencement speaker at Carolina a few years before I graduated. I had to settle for George H.W. Bush.

  5. Realist

    I cannot recall the name at the moment but she bears a striking resemblance of a male British actor. Same hair, jaw line, mouth and eyes. I suspect if she was dressed as a male or he as a female and they stood side by side, one would believe they are siblings.

    1. Mark Stewart

      What if she dressed as a woman and the actor you are trying to picture dressed as a man? What then if they were side by side? Would you be more or less certain they were siblings?

      1. Realist


        It was an observation, nothing more, nothing less. Why are you trying to insinuate that my comment is more than what it is, an ‘observation’? Get over yourself.

        1. Mark Stewart

          Testy ain’t ya?

          I found your drift into gender dysphoria slightly amusing this morning. Nothing more.

          1. Realist

            You made my point. It was an observation and yes, it did irritate me because you will always believe yourself to be the smartest person in the room and then make it a point to find something in a harmless comment to cloud it and assign a totally different meaning by interjecting a totally irrelevant conclusion on your part.

            Gender dysphoria? I don’t recall including it in my comment. Apparently it is you who is making the assumption that Ms. Hill suffers from gender dysphoria.

            By the way, the actor’s name is Bill Nighy.

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