Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A nice try

you'll remember I posted a while ago about trying to purchase a carton of cigarettes and the comedy we went through in order for the guy behind the counter to understand that I wanted a carton rather than a pack.

Today I went to the same petrol station. By now they know that when I say carton I mean carton. There are three or four different people behind the counter depending on the time of day and the day of the week. Today it was the 'little old lady'. She's very pleasant and friendly; and today she asked me if I was from Scotland! If you go back 5 generations yes, I am; my family hailed from Peebles and, according to a Duncan Manderson who lived in Switzerland in 1972 and compiled a complete family history going back to about the 13th century, the Mandersons were, at one time, one of the leading families of Peebles.

But it would be impossible to hear me speak and seriously imagine I'm Scottish if you had any exposure whatsoever to people from Scotland!

Half a year ago I was in the Sunflower garden at Singapore International Airport, smoking, on my way to Manila. As one does* I struck up a conversation with a young guy on his way to Australia. He had, it seems, been born in Melbourne but his family had returned to Scotland when he was very young. He was on his way to see the place of his birth. Try as I might I could only understand about half of what he said; indubitably he was speaking English words but his accent defeated me! Nice guy nonetheless!

*one side effect of the pariahdom of smoking is that it's relatively easy for smokers to bond. It's much easier to strike up a conversation with a fellow lurker in the smoking lounge than, for instance, with a fellow traveller in the typical airport lounge.

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