Morag, the narrator of my novel, Sweet Charity, comments a lot on the funny things people say. Whether it’s Coach’s delightful malapropisms, or Morag’s own southern African pronunciation that others tease her about, language features a lot. So I thought I’d share five of my family favourites.
- I loved it when our boys said or heard things differently. Like when he was in his first year of school, our younger son won an award for swimming. But when the teacher called his name (initial plus surname) to go up and collect his certificate, he didn’t move. The teacher repeated his name, and still he sat still. Someone nudged him and said, ‘That’s you!’ He said, ‘No, it isn’t. My name starts with a Curly C, not a see.’
- That same son wanted to be one of the Three Kings of Orientare in his nativity play, and his older brother was shocked when he heard someone do a square word. They both loved strangled eggs for breakfast, and their favourite movie for a time was Homerlome. And when our younger son asked me to send his hair apart, I just couldn’t work out what he meant, until he folded his arms in high drama and told me he wanted his hair like his older brother’s: sent apart.
- Both of our sons thought their grandfather came from the Outer Hebridean island, North Joost (as opposed to North Uist – the Afrikaans name and the island name have similar pronunciations), and, until recently, I thought the words to Bruce Springsteen’s Blinded by the Light included “wrapped up like a douche”, rather than “revved up like a deuce”. My husband still teases me about when I told him I’d just heard about Cher’s new album, ‘Five Barrel Eyes’. How does ‘I Paralyze’ make any more sense, I ask you?
- When we were little, my sister and I hurried each other up to get ready to go to the pant of Daddy’s, after our dad had told us we were going to see a pantomime. My sister thought patience was a virgin and I thought the Serviette Union got a lot of mentions on the (very boring) radio news channels.
- A couple of years after we got married, my husband and I went on a long, extended holiday to the UK and Europe, from our home in Harare, Zimbabwe. We spent the last three weeks of our three-month trip, completely broke and living off very little but sunshine and sea breezes on the Greek island of Santorini. We got home thin, hungry, and tanned. When I returned to my gym, someone asked me how I’d got so tanned. When I said, ‘Greece’, she was amazed. She told me she’d tried oil before, but it had never worked. That amused me so much, I wrote it up and sent it in to Readers’ Digest. (Remember those?) They called me, asked me to put them in touch with anyone (not family members) who could verify the story and, once they’d done so, they came and took my photo and published the anecdote. That whole story still makes me chuckle.
What words or sayings have you heard differently or got wrong? Please let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you.
Sunshine signing off for today!