A Throwback for the Queen

A few years ago, my sister and I used to photograph “oldies” concerts.  One of the singers we loved to photograph was Peter Noone from the band Herman’s Hermits, which was originally part of the British Invasion back in the 1960s.  (And, no, we weren’t around back then to know this firsthand.)  We knew Mr. Noone, and he knew us very well.  In fact, my kids even called him Uncle Peter.  And whenever we went around him, my sister and I always spoke in our best British accents.

The story I’m sharing today for my Throwback Thursday, took place at a fairground in Reading, Pennsylvania where Peter and his band were playing.  And although I’m really reaching to make the connection, it remotely has to do with writing, because it has to do with my sister and me being able to act as on-the-spot storytellers.  (Well, okay, technically I guess it’s called lying, but there was no malice or ill intent involved, only good clean fun.)

Our British accents were quite polished after years of practice, though at the time, neither of us had ever actually been to Great Britain yet.  We’d successfully fooled numerous people into thinking we were from Manchester and sometimes Liverpool for years at that point.

On this particular day, we were with our best friend from Canada, so we had yet another glorious accent to add to our melting pot, eh?  So, as we walked around the fairgrounds that day, we were enjoying ourselves, saying things like bloody, governor, loo, lift, quid, smashing, and the easiest one to use at the fair, candy floss.  At one point, a vendor heard us then talked to us for a while and gave us each a British flag (or rather a Union Jack).

So, Michelle and I donned our Union Jacks like capes and continued walking around the fairgrounds, eating chips and biscuits and considering buying a pint to get pissed.  As we walked, we encountered an elderly English woman who was compelled to stop us to chat.  Well, she proceeded to ask us the usual questions, such as if we were British, why were in the U.S., how long had we lived here, etc.  She then told us that we had beautiful accents, to which we replied our usual response of, “Thank you.  You know we hear that all the time, but it’s funny, we’ve been here so long we don’t even think we have accents anymore.  We can’t hear them at all like we did when we first moved here when we were small.”

The woman replied, “No, no, they’re great.  Tell me, where are you from?”

I don’t know why neither of us said our usual response of Liverpool or Manchester or even London, but for some reason, I jumped right in there and said, “We’re from Reading.”  What I meant was we were from Reading, Pennsylvania.  (As in, we’d lived there since we were small when we moved there from England.)  But I didn’t actually clarify that.  (I was just trying to get her to stop asking so many questions since we knew she was British and we didn’t want to get caught in our web of deceit!)  What she replied however, made me not enjoy our game much longer at all!

The lady said, “Reading?  I knew it!  I could tell straightaway from your accent!  I’m also from Reading!  I lived over near the River Thames near the motorway, but I spent a lot of time in Swindon these past few years.  Which part are you from?”

I wanted to die!  In my haste to conclude the conversation, I’d forgotten there was a Reading, England!  My sister sensed my fear and helped bail us out of our predicament.  “I’m sorry, Mum, but we can’t tarry any longer,” she said.  “We’re here on holiday, and we need to go spend some time with our Uncle Peter,” she added as she pulled me by the arm.

I was glad to walk away as quickly as possible.  The whole experience gave me the collywobbles.

union jack (1)

24 thoughts on “A Throwback for the Queen

  1. You cannot qualify as an English, English speaker until such time as you have mastered London English and the rhyming slang that is integral to its very being young lady. And we’re not talking Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins here. He was never able to show his face in London after that debacle for fear of death threats! Nice post.

    • This is true! And the accents are only good after loads of practice…. When I’ve been out of practice and try on command, I’m afraid I sound more like Liza Doolittle! YIKES! 😀

  2. Loved the story and the English spellings : )

    You will now have to practice your Parliamo Scots just in case you ever pop north of the border.

    I’ll give you a few verbs to start with : )

    “Get your heid in your hands” – receive a severe scolding. In Glasgow the severity is added to by “Ye’ll get yer heid on yer hauns – an’ yer teeth tae play wi'”.
    •”Haver” – to talk nonsense. “Yer havering man” or “Don’t give us your havers”
    •”Hirple” – limping or hobbling. “I could only hirple after spraining my ankle”
    •”Jouk aboot” – duck, dodge and weave about. To “jouk the school” is to play truant.
    •”Lichtsome” – carefree and cheerful or light on one’s feet. “She was right lichtsome at the Strathspey” (where a Strathspey is one of the many forms of Scottish country dancing).
    •”Licht” is of course “light”.
    •”Loup” – to jump or leap as in “Come and see the salmon loupin.” Something which will “gar ye loup” will make you start with pain or surprise. “Loup the cuddie” is leapfrog.
    •”Pit oot his pipe” – put him in his place.
    •”Pit the hems on” – keep in order, as in “Jeannie pit the hems on her husband so he couldnae get to the pub.”
    •”Plouter” (rhymes with doubter) – splash through or play with water or mud (a favourite pastime of children…) To “plouter about” is to do something in an aimless manner


  3. I am so jealous!! I loved Herman’s Hermits!! And DO remember the Brithish invasion! Great story, too. You must have been great to fool a true Englishwoman.

    • We did okay at the time, though without practice, we sound less like a true British lady and a more like “My Fair Lady”…before ole’ ‘Enry ‘Eiggins got hold of Liza Doolittle! LOL!

      • I enjoyed his take on the topic. I was also intrigued to find out that he had meant to write a novel about the Irish Civil War, but that he’d never got around to it. I guess the people in the Parallel Universe got tired of waiting for him, and went looking for somebody else to do it … me!

  4. British people rock! If I had a British accent, I would sit there and just talk to myself for hours, admiring the sound of my accent….

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