Jan 312011

It was George Bernard Shaw who said that England and America were two countries separated by a common language. In the 10 years that I have lived in the United States, I have managed to get along pretty well without commiting any major linguistic faux pas. Occasionally, I do have to repeat myself but that is more down to my accent rather than the language I am speaking.

At times, I do miss the sound of English regional accents and to get my fix of words spoken in my native tongue, I tune into BBC America. And if an English film/movie is playing on Turner Movie Classics, you can be assured I will watch it from start to finish. A week ago, I thoroughly enjoyed This Sporting Life, directed by Lindsay Anderson and starring Richard Harris and Rachel Roberts.

Today I got to hear English accents live. Two dear friends — Charles and Caroline whom I have known since we were at the University of Manchester more than 30 years ago — are staying in St Augustine, Florida, for a week’s vacation. My wife, Margaret, and I met up with them at their hotel, Casa Monica, and enjoyed their company for several hours.

Just hearing English accents, and covering topics of conversation that I am intimately connected to and knowledgeable of, was sheer joy. Naturally, we reminisced a little bit and at some point mention was made of the Plaza restaurant on Plymouth Grove, or was it Anson Road, Manchester, which was famous for its “chicken” biryani served with a curry sauce that could range from fiery to lethal.

I have put chicken inside quote marks because the apocryphal tale had it that the chicken was in fact alsation dog, or German Shepherd as the Americans would say. And that kind of brings me back where I came in with the George Bernard Shaw quote.