I only noticed when I moved from England to North America – I spoke English. I don’t mean the regular English understood across the world, but a weird 1960’s comedy English I assumed had died out with my grandparents. How queer.
I thought I was doing well to fit into my new country. I started to use lots of ‘z’s in words, a very underused letter back in Blighty. I accepted that pants were the things you wore outside your underpants. My new car had a trunk, not a boot. I was still having trouble with the term ‘fanny pack’ as that does mean something awfully rude in England. Oh, rather.
I’d frequently lapse back into English. Apparently “Popping to the shops”, “Just nipping out for a bit” and “Joining the queue at the Post Office” are uniquely English pastimes. “Oooh,” my friends mocked. “Are you popping for a cup of tea? Nipping out to get some biscuits?” And then they would laugh, as apparently biscuits are something you have with chicken, not dunk in your tea. Chicken and biscuits? How simply dreadful.
Did I ever say I was nipping to or popping anywhere back in England? Maybe the spirits of my English ancestors had possessed me, angry at my overuse of the letter ‘z’ and attempting to claim me back as one of their own. I was being forced to say “Cheerio!” against my will.
Dick Van Dyke
Whatever was causing this strange phenomena, I was morphing into a stereotypical cheeky chirpy Brit, complete with bizarre Dick Van Dyke-style cockney accent, if yer please. And I’m not even from London.
My friends liked my spoken English after all. I thought I sounded like a walking, talking Carry On movie but they thought it was just awesome. Well, one is not amused. It seems a part of me will be forever England, whether I like it or not. What a palaver.