April 16, 2007

Do You Speak English?

Ah. Apparently the British are retiring the phrase 'war on terror'.

I can think of so many Britishisms I would rather see go - starting with "we're having spotted dick for dessert". And that's after the main course of bangers and mash. I'll leave mushy peas alone.

For the record, my mother was from Birmingham, so I was raised in a bilingual household. We spoke English, and we spoke British. With a smattering of German swearing tossed in from my father, we were ready for any international incident.

But if panties are knickers and chips are crisps, and french fries are chips, what on earth is Natty Bumpo? Every year I'd get my Rupert Bear annual from England, and my friends would wonder why a small yellow bear was wearing tartan shorts. I'd mention that Donald Duck didn't wear any pants, and at least my English bear covered his nether regions.

My mother would thrill to a jar of marmite tucked in the Christmas package from her sister - seriously, have you ever seen this stuff? She'd tuck that wee jar of tar in the cupboard like she'd have to fight anyone for it. A favourite breakfast was Egg in a Hole, which until I just typed it, had never seemed odd. (You cut out a circle in a piece of bread, flop it into a pan of -what else?- fat, and drop an egg into it to poach). I almost wrote about Toad in the Hole, until my snarky sister forwarded some really gross recipe and I had a flashback to a time I decided not to revisit. I still make my mom's trifle, which was sublime. One friend of my son's called it a big bowl of candy, which isn't far off.

We watch British programs, and see friends stare blankly at the screen. Every bit of humour is quite simple, actually. Everything revolves around food and sex. You may be the only gay in the village, but you will be well fed. My mother used to make 'chips in paper' for us - homemade french fries wrapped in newspaper - and we'd sit in front of the television wondering why Mr. Humphries stared at men's bums on Are You Being Served?

As nostalgia grips me more firmly every year, come to think of it, I'd hate the Brits to retire any snippet of my childhood. But 'war on terror'? They're right. It's so American, so Bush league, I don't blame them. They should just send out their troops to cook for the enemy, and use artery clogging as a weapon of mass destruction.

Anything less would mean the terrorists have won.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always wanted to know..why do the "chips" have to be placed in paper? Don't they get newsprint-icky?
And My dad (German) also taught us the joys of cussing....to boot he is a trucker too, so you can well imagine MY linguistic health.

April 17, 2007 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

snarky? I prefer to think of it as an editorial gesture before some expatriated Brit corrected your culinary intelligence.

April 17, 2007 8:47 AM  

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