When I first came out here to live in 1982, my ear was very attuned to English accents. It's not something many English people talk about and I don't know if I'm particularly sensitive to them. England is a very small country and yet it has an amazing range of accents. Like America there are basic changes in speech in the North, South, East and West. I'm not too good at spotting the smaller variations out here I have to say.
But in England, the differences are quite marked and I think we become very aware of exactly where people come from by their speech.
On one of my first trips to Big Bear I heard an English woman talking in a restaurant and I knew exactly where she came from. I spoke to her as she was leaving; "Do you come from the New Forest?" I said. She turned on me and said quite abruptly: "No, from Totten!"
Totten is about ten miles from the center of the New Forest in Hampshire. But the fact is she didn't want me to think she had been a forest dweller. I don't think I could be as accurate these days with my long absence. Here is Jane Horrocks, who has a rural Lancashire accent. It's one of the few Northern ones I like. I takes about a minute to hear her speak. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa_lm46Zp74