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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Holiday love and the preface

A speech delay can be a curious thing, for both the speaker and the listener. Around here, for the longest time, my youngest son has prefaced most of his remarks with the warm up phrase –‘I am be.’ It’s the verbal equivalent of ‘um, er, well, actually.’ It’s a kind of precursor we’ve learned to live with, hardly notice. Just when we think it’s disappeared, it pops back.

After many tortuous years, our annual holiday to England, becomes easier. We have finally reached the point where my country of birth is not longer ridiculed, mocked and loathed – or at least somewhat less so. They have been won over by a few of the finer features of British life, some resurrected from the mists of time for purely artificial purposes. Archaic practices such as ‘afternoon tea,’ are welcomed. Without the actual tea, it’s a winner. A box of indulgent shop bought cakes and other nefarious dalliances. No more hand-made, wafer thin cut slices of cucumber, pre-soaked in wine vinegar with the lightest dusting of white ground peppercorns and crust-less bread, cut into triangles. I know I’m beat, primarily due to their fake, but very realistic, vomit noises – gems before minors. But we’ve made progress in other areas:-

“Tell me one new thing that you like about England?”
“I am be love dah pink meringues.”
“Great! Anything else?”
“England respects lions.”
“Oh the joys of Longleat Safari Park!” But that’s the thing about a speech delay—we bimble along the usual pathways, only to be pounced on and decimated by one perfect sentence. Frosting, glitter and sprinkles on an otherwise quite ordinary existence.
“And? Can you think of anything else? A third?”
“I am be love dah chutz.”
“Chutz? What’s a chutz? I don’t think I remember anything called a chutz?”
“They be chutz are wooden things.”
“What kind of a wooden thing?”
“Large… no small wooden things with painted.”
“Hmm. Give me another clue?”
“They are be big enough for a body to be inside.”
“A box. A coffin? Do you mean coffin? No you can’t mean that. I’d remember if we’d seen a coffin. Another clue please.”
“Sigh…No. Dey are be on the sand.”
“Shell? Rock?”
“No. No.”
“I give up.”
“It is be…for peoples.”
“Ice-cream cones, hampers, coolers?”
“No. No. No. It is be…for peoples who are be on dah beach.”
“A wooden…spade? Deck chair? Parasol? Windbreak?”
“No. No. No. No. Dey are be in dah wooden thing with paint.”
“People in wooden painted things on the beach?”
“Yes… you sayed they were be for peoples to be out of the rains.”
“I did? The rains? Ooo, you mean beach huts.”

Clearly my diction needs brushing up.

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