I'd like to welcome Linda Swift to Terry's Place today. She's offering a prize to one lucky commenter, so be sure to read through to the end for details.
My husband and I lived for a time in Kingston-upon-Hull, a city of 650,000 in East Yorkshire, England. I felt secure living in our English-speaking Mother Country from which all our forebears had come to form the Rebellious Colonies. But I soon realized that I didn't really speak the language. I speak American, Southern-style, and more than the Atlantic separates the two. So for your enlightenment, in case you are fortunate enough to spend some time in Yorkshire County, here are a few helpful translations.
Our flat had a large lounge (living room) with a color telly (TV) and I watched the Look North weather report daily to determine what to wear when going out. Of course, the temp was given in centigrade and conversion was never easy. I usually needed to take my brolly (umbrella), wear my wind cheater (rainproof jacket), and sometimes my Wellies (rain boots/ Wellingtons). And if the forecast said it would be "fresh" I could count on wind strong enough to blow my sox off. But no matter the weather, mums would be out with babies in prams (buggies) and pushchairs (strollers). Small wonder those Brits are such a hearty lot!
Victoria Dock had many buildings still in various stages of completion and "To Let" signs dotted the complex. And if "To Let" meant "For Rent" I never understood why the signs saying "For Sale" didn't say "To Sell." A puzzling inconsistency.
I sometimes took the coach (bus) to the city centre (downtown) which was easier than navigating those roundabouts by car. We call them traffic calmers here in Florida but let me tell you there was nothing calm about the way those big lorries (semi-trucks) wheeled around them in Hull. Although lorries were average size, cars were mostly compact which saved petrol (gas) and fit the small spaces in car parks (parking garages). A car in the UK had a boot (trunk) and a bonnet (hood) Highways were called motorways, and a four-lane motorway was a dual-carriageway. A camper or trailer suitable for sleeping was a caravan.
When my request for directions to the rest room in a department store was met with a startled look, an English friend explained that this was a waiting room in a mortuary and what I should say was toilet. I got into a queue, not a line. And once, when paying our admission to visit a castle, we saw a price for "Concessions" on the list. But how could they have one price cover whatever one might buy in the tea room, I wondered. Then I learned that meant a senior discount.
My first visit to a beauty shop was going well until the hairdresser asked me if I'd like her to use the tongs. Visualizing some instrument of torture, I cringed until she pointed to the curling iron. Clerks and shopkeepers thank you when they take your money, again when they give you change and then tell you goodbye. We in the US could take a lesson here.
On sightseeing excursions, I often wore my fanny pack. But I stopped calling it that after learning the word fanny literally means vagina and the pack is known in the UK as a bum bag.
Another faux pas was announcing to my English friends when we took a coach
tour one day that since the weather was fresh, I was wearing my pants. I meant my slacks instead of skirt and wondered why that statement caused raised eyebrows. Since to them that meant I was wearing my panties, I suppose they may still wonder if I only wore panties on "fresh" days. It was my turn to caution my friends that when in the US, it would not be a good idea to tell the hotel clerk "I want to be knocked up in the morning" when requesting a wake-up call.
Ticked off meant to check off something, not get your nose out of joint. And poking your nose in just meant looking around, not being rudely nosey. And to be struck off was to be fired from your job. Even I, thanks to Frazier, knew what the worker installing our long awaited shower meant when he left the job unfinished one day because he was feeling peckish. I don't know if he went to the surgery (doctor's office) and saw the surgeon (doctor) or the chemist (pharmacist) for a remedy.
Food was dear, and that referred to price, not affection. I discovered that jello was jelly. I don't know what jelly was called because I found that without asking for it. Salad dressing was salad cream. Cookies were digestive biscuits. Scones were sometimes called fat rascals. Popsicles were ice lollies. And listed on the dessert menus of some of the nicest pubs was a spotted dick. Don't even ask because I don't know as I never ordered one.
It was difficult to find lace curtains for the flat until I asked for nets. A window valance was a pelmet and dust ruffle was a bed valance. I learned to dose my laundry with detergent, empty the fluff trap and ask for lint when I needed a band-aid. I put my garbage in the dust bin.
The Brits are always sorting things out. And they do more popping than microwave popcorn, as in pop up, down, in, out and over. And I would like to pop over again right this minute and spend a couple more years enjoying their wonderful country and learning to speak more English. For I realize there is much yet to learn. For example, a friend emailed me last week that she had been kipping on her mum's floor while the workmen were making repairs. I am still trying to figure out exactly what she was doing. I hope someone reading this will enlighten me.
Linda will be giving a download copy of CIRCLE OF LOVE chosen from a random drawing of those who leave comments before April 10, Good Friday. You must check back here for the winner's name. Good luck!
Linda Swift writes contemporary and historical fiction for The Wild Rose Press and Awe-Struck Publishing. Her newly released book, CIRCLE OF LOVE, is now available from The Wild Rose Press. For more information on all of Linda's books, she invites you to visit her at www.lindaswift.net