Last Saturday I was volunteered to go to the supermarket with Aunt Gertrude from Australia who is staying with us for a while. The rest of the family wanted some respite from her grating Australian accent and slang.
I must admit, since she’s been with us I’ve started to acquire a slight Australian lilt in my speech as well as a few of her words. The other day, unintentionally of course, I said to the postman “G’day to you cobber!”
He replied, “I didn’t know you were Canadian!”
I did not dignify his comment with a response so as not to promote his ignorance to total ignorance.
Anyway, off we went to the supermarket accompanied by Uncle Herbert who has come to see us from Dundee in Scotland, and to meet Auntie Gertrude.
That Saturday, Auntie had decided, on the strength of half-an-hour of sunshine that day, that we should have a barbecue in the back garden. She started choosing bits of meat when Uncle Herbert suggested a few packets of the best Scottish smoked salmon would go down a treat.
“Ye can’t have stinking fish on a barbie,” she screeched loud enough for the whole supermarket to hear, “you’ll fumigate the neighbourhood!”
“Och aye …” he responded calmly, “ma wee bairn grand-daughter had a Barbie!”
“Did she get burnt badly on the barbie?” enquired a distraught Auntie.
“It wasnae burnt … it was a braw wee doll ye ken!” he replied.
“Your grand-daughter is called Ken? That’s a strange name for a girl!” responded a more confused Auntie.
And so it was that, once again, this time in the middle of a supermarket, I became international interpreter between Scotland and Australia, both countries purporting to speak in English and here we have two nationals who can’t understand each other.
At least at the liquor counter they both agreed – no wine.
She chose a dozen cans of Foster’s amber nectar, whilst he chose Tennent’s lager and Irn Bru.
“It’s made in Scotland from girders, ye ken!" he said proudly.
“Why does he keep saying Ken?” she asked me in a loud voice for the whole shop to hear.
“G’day cobber, fair dinkum, mate!” I replied as I moved the shopping trolley towards the checkout.