Monday, November 24, 2014

Perfect timing (not)

So it's Thanksgiving on Thursday in the USA. It's a big deal here. The in-laws are coming, as is the college girl, flying in on Tuesday and leaving Sunday. Ours is a fairly small gathering as we have pretty much no family here. I have friends who are hosting 25 people and one couple has an annual outdoor Thanksgiving celebration for 100 people! They even get a mention in the local paper!

Whatever the size of your Thanksgiving gathering, there's always food involved and usually home-cooked. It's a BIG deal.

Which is why I'm sitting here on tenterhooks (or pins and needles, as they say here) waiting for a telephone call ...... from the oven repair man.

Yes, the bloody oven has given up the ghost. Dead. It is no longer. Possibly over-worked since the Little Guy and the Ball & Chain have taken up cooking with a passion only otherwise reserved for golf. They cook the entire week's meals on a Sunday these days. (I know - it's great.) However, as the Punk Rocker son said, it's like going from doing moderate exercise every week to running a marathon every day. Naturally it's broken down. (I think I should be offended by that comment, but I shall ignore it.)

So here I am, three days before Thanksgiving, waiting for a call from the repair man. Of course, even after they come out, it's not a given that they have "the part" in the van/truck (do they ever?) or that the oven will be fix-able.

We are already in Plan B mode as to how to cook the meal. BBQ the turkey? (Which will be really nice actually, - slow-cooked therefore moister.) The turkey won't fit into the crock-pot, so that's out. A kindly neighbor has said she'll give me the keys to her house to use her oven. How nice, and yes, it's given us a measure of calm.

So fingers crossed, and all that. But really - what timing eh?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Don't Encourage Americans to try a British Accent

I read with great interest about a study of accents today. Apparently children on both sides of the Pond pay more attention to British accents.

The article says - "It can be a struggle to get children to listen to instructions with so many distractions around, but speaking with a British accent might help."

The study was done on both British and American children, and both sets paid more attention when addressed by someone speaking in a British accent, preferably with a northern lilt. Yes, apparently someone with clear pronunciation and a non-regional accent commands less attention than us northerners. I have to think however, that part of the "commanding attention" might be amazement at hearing the accent in the first place. Like the posh kids in the Catherine Tate sketch when faced with a Geordie babysitter for the day.

If it's anything like my experiences in the USA (with both adults and children) people hearing my not-quite-like-the-Queen accent spend more time trying to guess where I'm from (Ireland? Australia?) than actually listening or following my directions.

Given that the Daily Mail web site is now available in the USA, I'm assuming that a few Americans actually read it. That fills me with dread. It's bad enough when they try to imitate me - sounding more like someone from Navi Mumbai than Newcastle - but listening to them pulling a fake Mary Poppins in an attempt to get their kids under control might just be the undoing of me. It was bad enough when Dick Van Dyke did it.

Yes, a lot of them actually sound just like this -

Heaven help us!

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