Next month, as I complete eight months of life in England, a poem by Fleur Adcock comes to mind. People in Someone Else’s Country feel the same, irrespective of where they come from. Most of us blend in eventually, picking up phrases and pecularities that are so British that they cease being funny when you say them all day long.
Eight months isn’t long enough for me to get round to testing my accent though. It’s funny how the Europeans and the Americans have to (no choice there) pay attention to the Asian accent now after all these centuries, especially since all (most) banking, telephone, internet and utility response centres are now staffed by Indians in Mumbai, Gurgaon or Bangalore, pretending to be in Leeds, London or Lancaster. The tables have turned. The world better get used to it!
November ‘63: eight months in London
I pause on the low bridge to watch the pelicans:
They float swanlike, arching their white necks
Over only slightly ruffled bundles of wings,
Burying awkward beaks in the lake’s water.
I clench cold fists in my Marks and Spencer’s jacket
And secretly test my accent once again:
St. James’s Park; St. James’s Park; St. James’s Park.