I think I’m turning Englishese, I think I’m turning Englishese, I really think so.
It’s true. I said “smashing!” this week without conscious thought. I didn’t exclaim to any designer clad, Verve Clicquot guzzling wannabe. No, I said it in Waitrose to a olive and green clad employee who I know is too well trained to even privately roll her eyes and think”wanker”. Suddenly I realised I’ve been minutely but significant anglicised. Small talk about the weather? Yes! I can do it. This pointless conversation in Fiji or Greenland here offers a wondrous variety of conversational entry, exit and diversion points with a wide variety of people. Dogs in the nave! Yes, I can do it! On Wednesday I insisted it was absolutely acceptable for a couple bring their dogs into the 18th century baroque masterpiece, Great Witley Church where I volunteer. I used to be appalled. But the English inordinately adore their pooches. They gush. Strangers gush. Now I gush. It’s cultural. Like the Italians with bambinos, it makes them human. I accept.
I’ve also stopped responding to the ubiquitous greeting “y’oright?” with ” I’m fine thank you. Nothing wrong at all”, stopping my small island brethren in their tracks, wondering if they should ring 999. Because they are not, I know now, asking me if I need help. They’re saying G’day or Kia Ora or I-am-briefly-and-politely-acknowledging-you-and-your-presence-on-the-planet-as-we-pass-by. Now I say “y’oright” right back. I intuitively understand the phrase’s social function and meaning and the exchange may take place with absolutely no confusion or unintended personal (please no I’m English!) interaction.
During the Olympics when the swimming finished and my home nation had a fortnight to prepare for the closing ceremony, I turned to Team GB and cheered for charming boys and girls hauling in chunks of gold in sports I hardly knew made the list – rowing, cycling , horsing about – sports as my friend Val says best performed sitting down. They were marvelous ambassadors and I felt the tiniest bit proud.
Even my home is becoming anglicised. The annoying need for electrical adaptors is diminishing because I now own an iron, coffee maker, mixer and hairdryer complete with English G type pins. The disgrace of inbuilt electrical redundancy aside, these new purchases have freed up enough Aussie I pin to English G pin adaptors to leave every modern convenience bought from my homeland plugged in situ. I no longer unplug the desktop/printer/lamps/toothbrush/iron/hairdryer/mixer/ipod/ipad/vacuum cleaner/camera/blender/wok/electric blanket to plug in items from the same list. Gradually the aesthetic ugliness of a power board stretched like a corporate target preventing the placement of bed side tables against the wall is no more.
I may not recite English royal lineages like my mate Moira but I do know what/who a Job’s comforter is, the origin of the saying “it cost an arm and a leg”, and what to do when there’s enough blue to make sailor’s trousers or a baby’s bonnet*. I’m becoming anglicised and not as my spell checker suggests “anguished”. I am 80% Aussie, 10% Kiwi and now 10% Pom.
You know that performance review I conducted in April with Mother Nature’s darling offspring, Summer? It worked! England’s average summer temperature clocked in at 0.6 degrees above normal – share my joy. The Bureau of Meteorology reported this year’s average across UK was 14.9 degrees (don’t choke on your vegemite/ fejoa jam). This number is in fact silly – why do they bother reporting an average taken from Penzance to John o Groats. Nevertheless I’m not so anglicised that I rated this summer as acceptable. Around Foxtwist it was a bit dull, the Met backing up my experience to report Summer didn’t hit her target sunshine hours (down 6%), offloading instead 13% extra rainfall. This is why I like Autumn. No drenched expectations or clouded hopes, every pleasant day a gorgeous bonus before the Big Chill.
Shoulder Fracture Update
Just Don’t Do It. My physiotherapist is a Job’s comforter. After my assessment at week six I went home convinced the synovial fluid was thickening up, the surrounding capsule shrinking and manual manipulation under a general anaesthetic was pending. At some stage in the next three months I can see myself throwing all his torture toys against the wall, sobbing into his massage table and demanding an amputation. My least favorite exercise of my set of thirteen, invokes lying on my back holding a broomstick above my head and trying to drop it backwards. I haven’t made it to my ears yet, despite gritted teeth, last gasp breathing, staying conscious through dizzying pain. Twenty times, three times a day; rehab is the equivalent of a full time job.
Sadly I haven’t been able to collect autumn damsons (a sharp, tart, deep purple local plum) from my trees this year. They are on a steep slope at the back of Foxtwist and I daren’t risk it with my broken shoulder. Last year I made jar upon jar of deep purple damson “cheese”. It was ever so slightly rubbery with tiny, tiny bubbles on the surface which would disqualify it from winning a Women’s Institute prize. But as my farming neighbor Gail kindly said to me, “Ann, it’s for eating, not for looking at”. Fortnum and Mason in London sell it for about £40 a kilo and as I type and remember the sharp sweet taste of damson cheese with Shropshire Blue on a crisp cracker perhaps I’ll reconsider, lower my centre of gravity and slither carefully around the tree trunks rescuing the fallen.
Travel Notes to Self
- The Peak District, Debyshire. Fast becoming my favorite county not least for its ability to induce visions of Lizzie Bennet and Mr Darcy.
- Mam Tor trail. Lyme Hall. Peveril Castle.
- Great Witley Church. My latest volunteer activity, talking to visitors (aka captive tourists – my favorite kind) about local history in a gorgeous setting.
* Job’s comforter. Job, in the Book of Job was consoled by three comforters whose consoling approach was to aggravate Job’s distress under the guise of giving comfort.
* “It cost an arm and a leg!” When the art of portraiture arrived from Europe in the late 1500s, English royalty commissioned opulent portraits of themselves standing full height holding symbols of their divine right of power. Full length paintings including shapely arms and legs were very expensive. Lesser nobles and ordinary gentry, without the readies tended to go for the cheaper head and chest option.
* “There’s enough blue sky to make a baby’s bonnet/sailor’s trousers,”, said Mother. “Outside! Outside you go!”