I've returned from America. The immediate consequence of this is that I no longer have a cute accent. People remarked on it in shops over there, 'Oh my gad, I just luuuve it!' was the general consensus.
Would I be right in thinking the British accent to an American is what a French accent is to a Brit?
Incidentally, part of my reason for going to America, apart from spending Christmas with my husband's family, was of course to correct my 6 year old nephew's pronunciation of Water. It's an annual exercise with repeatedly disappointing results and goes a bit like this:
Me: No, Waaaar-tah.
Me: Oh whatever.
America is the place where I feel most British. Anywhere else I consider myself European with allegiances to two countries although little inclination to belt out the national anthem of either, and much less with a hand on my heart. Although to be fair, the Spanish anthem doesn't have any words, so I couldn't belt it out even if I wanted to. But in America I do feel and have fun being British. There I feel a desire to befuddle people with cockney rhyming slang or echo the well spoken characters of Enid Blyton books.
While secretly I think American spelling makes a lot of sense, there are some words I can't take seriously. For instance the word 'restroom'. A temple is a restroom, a yoga room is a restroom, but as for the lavatory... really? It's childish but I enjoy asking where the loo is, or the toilet is, because in America they sound like rude words.
America is different. More so than I expected. I didn't realise that they didn't have Boxing day over there or that they would look at me blankly when I asked for mulled wine. I asked for it at a fairground and the woman shook her head, 'This is a family park, we don't serve malt wine.' They didn't have any mulled, malt or ordinary wine in the family restaurant where we ate later. It seems quite common in America to separate alcohol from family establishments, which is strange, because when you're with all the family you generally need a proper drink. As for their no alcohol until 21 policy, don't get me started. You can be married, have kids, a driving license and own a gun by 18, but you can't have a drink... How did that happen?
What stands out most of all about The United States is that everything is bigger. My sister in law has a fridge that would be sold as a one bedroom flat if it were in London. The second thing that stands out for me, and I feel like a country bumpkin for saying this, but everything looks like it is in the films. Before we headed to Washington DC, we spent a couple of days in New York.
Arriving in the Big Apple was so exciting to me. I loved the traffic lights, the taxis and the policemen carrying their coffee and doughnuts. I loved the blinding lights and the bagels.
It's funny and wonderful how the ordinary for one person can be extraordinary for somebody else. That's the great thing about travel. So here's wishing that the New Year brings us all more adventures in distant places!