I just like cake…
by maggi dawn
“So how does it feel to be home?” people keep asking me. “What do you miss the most abut home when you are in America?” Well, I say. I would miss decent tea, but that is so important that I actually have good tea sent over regularly. But in the last four days I have tasted, for the first time in 3 years: toast and marmalade a proper bacon sandwich a real anglo-Indian curry English beer cadbury’s chocolate fruit cake And coming soon: a Greggs pie, real fish and chips, and a cream tea. These are tastes that I missed. But these are not the things that are most striking coming home.
On a few occasions I’ve been slightly swept away by sights and sounds that I haven’t consciously missed, but bumping into them after a long hiatus drew me suddenly into tears or laughter. I’ve always found brass bands pretty emotive. On Sunday afternoon, finding myself standing in a field for beer and hymns led by a Sally Army/Colliery-style brass band, I was more than a little weepy. And when they decided to finish up the afternoon with the Miners’ hymn I was just awash. There’s also something musical about the inflection of language that gives a profound sense of being ‘home’. I can understand Americans, and they can understand me (with occasional moments of cultural and vocabulary translation) but it doesn’t sound the same in terms of its musical patterns. And more than the words, it’s the music of language that makes it sound familiar and easy to understand. For three years I’ve been asked nearly every day, “What did you say?” or, Do you come from France?”, or, “say that again, your accent is so cute!” But in the past four days, people have just talked to me. Here there’s no need to concentrate; communication is effortless. And somehow, inexplicably, it makes me breathe in deeper, and feel a little more rooted to the ground when I walk. Speaking of the inflection of the language, here’s a funny anecdote overheard in Durham this afternoon. “I went to see ma Doctor. She told me I was fat.” “She told you you were fat?” “She told me I was fat. Ah said, like, ‘I know I’m fat, pet, ah don’t need a Doctor to tell us that.’ Then she tried to test us for diabetes.” “Did you let her?” “Did ah let her? Ah did not! Ah said, I’m not diabetic, pet, I just like cake.”