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.