Tag Archives: America

Pink Shoes, Charity, & Immigrant Me

Stormy skies can be restful

Stormy skies can be restful

Warnings for: musings (1), mentions of vigorous exercise, and substitute swear words (“Cuss Lite”(TM)

I have given up swearing for autumn, and taking up running til at least early December. It remains to seen which one proves more chuffin’ difficult.

I’ve probably whinged before – and undoubtedly, unless WordPress shuts me down, or the world ends, will again – about the fact that new immigrants to the UK do not receive a handbook on arrival. Nor did the “Life in the UK” test cover such useful subjects as food, old telly shows, or swearing.

“Life in the UK” did (2) include a section on sport, though it was comparatively brief compared to such useful bits of information as, “What percentage of the Welsh population are from ethnic minorities?” According to my husband, who’s a Yorkshireman, and helped me study, the real answer is, “All of them: they’re Welsh.”

The citizenship exams are probably on my mind because a Polish lady we know has just sat her English exam, and is sitting her “Life” exam next. The subjects of immigration, refugees, and the like are also in the news and, judging from my own life, a heated topic of conversation.

It’s also nearly five years since I officially became a British subject. I say “officially” because both practically and emotionally, I already thought of myself as Anglo-American. On a practical level, I had worked, paid taxes – including National Insurance (NI) – and did my best to follow laws and rules such as putting my bins out on the correct day. I’d also become involved in local causes, politics, and charities, as well as given money, and, quite literally, blood.

Which brings me to my latest charitable venture, and the Shoes of Extreme Pinkness:

2015-07-28 06.54.11See?

So far, the shoes and several pairs of socks are the only kit which I’ve purchased for the fund raiser I’m running on Sunday 6 December: the 10k “Percy Pud” race in Sheffield.

I do have one other bit of kit which I have been wearing whilst training: a t-shirt given to me by one of the two charities I’ll be raising funds for, Combat Stress. The other charity is also a mental health one, and is specifically round a project(s) aimed at helping people in my adopted home town of Doncaster.

Because, whilst I’ll always be American – and tick the “White, Other” box on forms – I consider myself to be not only British in law, but by choice, and heart.

Because, in part, I was allowed to make that choice. I was and am white, speak English, and am not – directly, at least (3) – perceived as belonging to a “scary” category of immigrant.

Next time someone asks “But why don’t the such-and-such – fill in the blank with the ethnic and/or religious group of your choice – assimilate?” – ask yourselves: are we honestly giving people a real choice to join in?

Swans on still waters: Doncaster, 2015

Swans on still waters: Doncaster, 2015

(1) This blog is subtitled “Musings of a British Eccentric”, so it’s on the tin
(2) As of Spring 2010
(3) I am half-Romanian on my dad’s side

Pink Shoes, Charity, & Immigrant Me

Stormy skies can be restful

Stormy skies can be restful

Warnings for: musings (1), mentions of vigorous exercise, and substitute swear words (“Cuss Lite”(TM)

I have given up swearing for autumn, and taking up running til at least early December. It remains to seen which one proves more chuffin’ difficult.

I’ve probably whinged before – and undoubtedly, unless WordPress shuts me down, or the world ends, will again – about the fact that new immigrants to the UK do not receive a handbook on arrival. Nor did the “Life in the UK” test cover such useful subjects as food, old telly shows, or swearing.

“Life in the UK” did (2) include a section on sport, though it was comparatively brief compared to such useful bits of information as, “What percentage of the Welsh population are from ethnic minorities?” According to my husband, who’s a Yorkshireman, and helped me study, the real answer is, “All of them: they’re Welsh.”

The citizenship exams are probably on my mind because a Polish lady we know has just sat her English exam, and is sitting her “Life” exam next. The subjects of immigration, refugees, and the like are also in the news and, judging from my own life, a heated topic of conversation.

It’s also nearly five years since I officially became a British subject. I say “officially” because both practically and emotionally, I already thought of myself as Anglo-American. On a practical level, I had worked, paid taxes – including National Insurance (NI) – and did my best to follow laws and rules such as putting my bins out on the correct day. I’d also become involved in local causes, politics, and charities, as well as given money, and, quite literally, blood.

Which brings me to my latest charitable venture, and the Shoes of Extreme Pinkness:

2015-07-28 06.54.11See?

So far, the shoes and several pairs of socks are the only kit which I’ve purchased for the fund raiser I’m running on Sunday 6 December: the 10k “Percy Pud” race in Sheffield.

I do have one other bit of kit which I have been wearing whilst training: a t-shirt given to me by one of the two charities I’ll be raising funds for, Combat Stress. The other charity is also a mental health one, and is specifically round a project(s) aimed at helping people in my adopted home town of Doncaster.

Because, whilst I’ll always be American – and tick the “White, Other” box on forms – I consider myself to be not only British in law, but by choice, and heart.

Because, in part, I was allowed to make that choice. I was and am white, speak English, and am not – directly, at least (3) – perceived as belonging to a “scary” category of immigrant.

Next time someone asks “But why don’t the such-and-such – fill in the blank with the ethnic and/or religious group of your choice – assimilate?” – ask yourselves: are we honestly giving people a real choice to join in?

Swans on still waters: Doncaster, 2015

Swans on still waters: Doncaster, 2015

(1) This blog is subtitled “Musings of a British Eccentric”, so it’s on the tin
(2) As of Spring 2010
(3) I am half-Romanian on my dad’s side

How to be a Foreigner

Not originally from these parts

Not originally from these parts

Brigadier: “Well, naturally enough the only country that could be trusted with such a role was Great Britain.” The Doctor: “Well, naturally. I mean, the rest were all foreigners.”

Fancy being the square peg amongst the round ‘uns? Someone who, perhaps, did not originally use the words “amongst,” or “‘uns”?

Then let’s begin:

1) First, choose your parents: the simplest way to be a foreigner is to persuade your parents to move far, far away.

2) Alternatively, move later in life. Make sure, however, that you move far enough that you’ll look, sound, and / or behave a bit suss. Moving three blocks or even three miles from where you were before just won’t cut it.

3) On the other hand, it might. Villagers are naturally suspicious. So are small children.

I don't think we're in S Yorkshire anymore, Toto.

Zebras? Where?

4) Having moved, get ready for the long haul. As in, the rest of your life.

5) Any good at accents? Then – assuming skin colour isn’t an issue – you may be in with a chance. Try getting the expressions down first: eg, instead of verbally spelling out “sob”, consider the joys of the word for which I substitute the lesser expression “twonk”.

Mug Shot #2

Labels: Sometimes you gotta embrace ’em

6) Get ready for people to smile, comment, and even laugh the first time you swear using expressions favoured in your new country. And the second time, and the third, and the 300th.

It never gets old.

7) Re 6) above, oh yes it does: for you. Not them.

8) You may think I’m banging on about swearing, but it is a vital part of many cultures. Also, by moving countries or areas, you have an unlooked for opportunity to mine a new, rich seam of profanity.

9) Local culture is all. Eg, just because you’re used to people waving flags, and/or going on about God, doesn’t mean such behaviour won’t be viewed with suspicion in your new environment.

10) On the subject of religion, becoming a foreigner may mean you have the chance to pack in your childhood faith, and become the Jedi Knight you always wanted to be. Let’s face it, unless you’ve made the sort of half-assed move which means only the weather and your address have changed, you’re always going to be seen as a bit of weirdo.

So why not buy that light saber, get measured for some white pjs, and a brown cloak, and put out an advert for your very own Padawan?

11) Food: be prepared to be puzzled whilst the locals argue amongst themselves as to whether a certain yeast based object is a “breadcake”, “breadbun”, or “bap”.

These things are important.

‘appen.

Don't know what you're smiling about, mate: you're sat next to a Dalek.

Don’t know what you’re smiling about, mate: you’re sat next to a Dalek.

 

Hello, Sweden!

Well, shit. I took a lengthy hiatus from this blog for the last few weeks and I feel kinda rotten about it. I’ve been really sick. I had what I suspect was the flu that turned into laryngitis causing me to lose my voice for 4 days. That was not comfortable. I like to talk. I talk a lot. The first day was annoying. The second day was frustrating. The third day became mildly psychedelic because I was completely trapped in my own head and my brain doesn’t like to be bored so she started thinking up wacky things for me to focus on so I wouldn’t go bananas. Things got weird. By the fourth day, I started to like it a little. I was in this Laura bubble and it was kinda turning into a playground. I stated hearing things. When you can’t make any noise, you start to notice that things around you are kind of melodious. I heard the tinkling of piano keys in the sound of rushing water. I heard the percussive textures of my footfalls. When I listened to music, I added my own notes. Bizarre stuff. Had I not been ill, I might’ve enjoyed it more. I have a nice relationship with hallucinogens.

So, I’m pretty much better now and I’m back in the world doing worldly things, which, for me, generally includes politics because the political theatre of my country is basically a show that never stops. I’m inclined to tune in even when shit gets tiresome. For those of you who don’t follow American politics, we’re at the beginning stages of selecting our next president. The campaigns will be going on, ever growing in fervor and diced into soundbites and mini-scandals for approximately the next 19 months. I anticipate weirdness and sometimes with glee.

So, Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont has thrown his hat into the ring, hoping to win the democratic primaries. I’m not gonna get too into my political ideologies, but it’s probably worth mentioning where I lean. My values tie me most closely to socialism but I’m not registered as a member of any party, though I almost always vote Democrat. The Democratic party in the U.S. is not liberal or progressive enough to enact a lot of the changes I’d like to see in my country, but, realistically, it’s probably the best I can hope for.

Recently, Bernie Sanders made some very direct comments about what he thinks the United States can learn from Scandinavian countries in regards to social and fiscal programs that affect the overall wellbeing of the people who live in there. I find myself agreeing with him for the most part. Probably because, over the years, I’ve put Sweden on this pedestal, believing it to be a socialist haven where I could see myself being comfortable and happy. It occurs to me that I may have some serious blind spots here, because Sweden is not a utopia and I know that. But in a society where Creationists head my congress’ science committee and where political discourse boils down to: pick a team or forfeit your voice, a life in a well-oiled, left-leaning country looks pretty rosy. (Any Swedes out there who want to school me on their county’s political system are welcome and encouraged to do so. Those blind spots gotta get fixed somehow.)

So, yeah, dreaming of a life in Sweden. There are about 90 things that would potentially prevent me from moving to another part of the world even if I really wanted to. Maybe in 10 years. Maybe in 20. I don’t know. But the thing that does truly frighten me about emigrating is my worry that I might not be able to maintain stability concerning my mental health. This is a little counterintuitive considering how many countries, including Sweden, have healthcare systems that make the one in my country look like the joke that it is. But it plays out like this:

How do I get my meds? How do I make sure I stay on the same meds I’m on now which seem to be working? How do I find a psychiatrist who can truly help me? How do I find a therapist who will keep me on track? How hard will it be to start over with a new therapist after having made close to 8 years of progress with my current doctor? What does mental health stigma look like in other parts of the world? How long of a gap in treatment will I have to endure during a massive life change? What will that gap do to me? Do I have it in me to deal with the inevitable stressors of an international move? 

Some of these questions are just stupid worries I have because I tend to worry stupidly. They have psych meds in Sweden. They’re probably not super hard to get if I really need them, which I do. They also have therapists and doctors. I wouldn’t hold a country in such high esteem if I thought its healthcare system was too inadequate to deal with me. Theoretically, my experience there could actually be better than the one I’m having here, but the reason my American healthcare is so precious to me is partly because I’ve learned how to work it and partly because I can afford to pay for things that are genuinely effective.

I’m afraid of change, but I’m more afraid of stagnation. That’s a tricky one. But bipolar disorder is not an illness with borders. I knew that before I started this blog, but I’ve been able to see it firsthand, as so many of you who share your experiences with me and who come here to read what I have to say don’t live in the U.S. You’re not dead. That’s a good sign. People with bipolar can and do move all over the globe.

So, I’m sitting here thinking about this and realizing more and more that the shit that’s preventing me from having the confidence to make a leap all the way across the pond is coming from me, not from my destination. But after having worked so many years to get myself to the place I’m at today, I feel sort of bound to stay the course. Sometimes I feel almost literally chained to my own wellness, which, in turn, is chained to a system that I can navigate, even though I know it’s flawed very deeply. I’m entertaining concrete fears about a true hypothetical. What does that say about my self-confidence?

It says that it’s shitty. When I was younger, I did do some globe trotting and it didn’t kill me. It was actually pretty great. That should be an encouraging sign, even if it only replicates my worries in miniature. I don’t wanna live here forever. I don’t wanna settle all the way down. I don’t want my creature comforts to overshadow my sense of adventure but it’s so fucking easy to let that happen.

At any rate, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. I’m looking forward to the coming year and a half of campaign insanity that will surely yield some entertaining and face palm inducing rhetoric. It’s gonna be a hilarious nightmare, it always it. It’s nice to have something to depend on.

-LB

Tagged: America, Bernie Sanders, bipolar disorder, change, emigration, flu, healthcare, meds, politics, public health, self-confidence, socialism, stress, Sweden, therapy

Let’s Ban Sport!

An Andrew Motion poem: Sheffield, S Yorks

An Andrew Motion poem: Sheffield

I think I attended one football game, back in high school. Who knows why.

Perhaps I’d run out of library books.

I was in Sheffield the other day. At the bottom of the hill overlooked by a wonderful poem by Andrew Motion (above), I saw a load of police. Being a nosy soul, I asked what was happening.

A local derby between Sheffield United, and Donny Rovers, the wpc said.

Meanwhile, in my original home town of Detroit, it was opening day.

You expected what, a catcher's mitt?

You expected what, a catcher’s mitt?

A Michigan friend predicted what the British – when their traditional stiff upper lip is installed – call “unpleasantness”.

Sadly, my friend was right. The debris included litter, and what I – having installed my lip stiffener – will describe as bodily fluids, and related items.

Tour de Yorkshire: Sheffield

Tour de Yorkshire: Sheffield

When an English friend was a lad, he read a comic titled, “Roy of the Rovers”. Roy’s fans didn’t fight, or pee in inappropriate places. If he missed a goal, they said: “Oh, bad shot, Roy!”

If only, eh?

I never attended a Red Wings’ game. Detroit legend claimed that the scenes on the ice were so violent that the closest the fans got to misbehaving was when a player scored a hat trick, and a fan would throw an octopus on the rink.

Not very nice for the octopus, of course. The chap with the Zamboni machine probably wasn’t keen, either.

As for the Pistons, meh. I cannot name a single player, past or present. Over 40 years later, I can still reel off names like Al Kaline, Mickey Lolich, Willy Horton, Denny McClain, and Bill Freehan.  The “old men” who won baseball’s World Series in 1968.

I remember, too, the way the fans trashed not just the interior of Tiger Stadium, but also several surrounding streets. It was after the pennant. And, the year after a race riot which tore our town apart.

But, opening day? That never used to involve anything more criminal than bunking off school, or work.

Enough’s enough. Let’s ban sport.

All of it.

Tiddleywinks? Dangerous. Miniature golf? A nightmare cloaked in tiny windmills, and cottages. The kids’ card game, “Go Fish”? Another “Doorway to Danger”.

Just think of all that free time, and money, for other things. Like re-opening libraries, or extending their opening hours.

So that bored teenagers need never again sit through a football game: here, or abroad.

Statue of monks carrying St Cuthbert's body, outside the library: Durham.

Statue of monks carrying St Cuthbert’s body, outside the library: Durham.

Wisdom, and the “Place of Understanding”

“Whence comes wisdom, and where is the place of understanding?” – The Bible

2000-10-04 18.49.02

Church, St Pancras Road: London

“Do you know where you’re going to?” – The theme from “Mahogany

A former-Protestant turned Pagan, my most profound religious moment happened in an Orthodox church.

Most of our visits to St George were family related: a service before a Mother’s Day lunch; another which was followed by a performance by a Romanian dance troop; the occasional “parastas” service for a relative, or family friend.

I relished such visits. After the Plain Jane experience that was our local church, going someplace where the sights – such sights, such colour! – sounds, and even smells were exciting, and mysterious, was a breath of incensed air.

"White Flowers" (Florele Dalbe)

“White Flowers” (Florile Dalbe)

Occasionally, I could hum along to some of the songs, though I couldn’t join in. Many years ago, my father told me: “My Romanian accent is bad, but yours is worse.”

I cannot remember exactly when I saw the splendidly dressed deacon lift up the huge, elaborately decorated Bible, and chant the single word: “Wisdom!”

Inside, something thrilled, was moved, was amazed. So many times, during my Protestant childhood, and youth, I heard about sin, and duty, and – by inference, if not directly – guilt.

Never before, outside of Bible stories of Solomon, had I heard about “wisdom”.

Years later, in school, we sang this:

“Whence comes wisdom, whence comes wisdom? And where is the place of understanding? It is hid from all eyes, and revealed by the mouth of the Lord.”

Many miles, and years, later, I became aware of Paganism. About how God can be gods. About how the connection made with them can be through the earth beneath our feet, without the need to put on tights, and a skirt, and sit in a pew.

Horsechestnut in a  Yorkshire wood

Horsechestnut in a Yorkshire wood

What did I want? a Pagan friend asked. Wisdom, I said. I’m looking for wisdom.

Have I found it? Occasionally, perhaps: glimpsed in the distance.  Dancing, like a leaf in the wind, or shining, like a reflection in the water.

A trick of the light, a brief visit by a bird to my garden feeder, a phrase on a page, a comment from my husband, a client, a friend.

The mouth of the Lord is an awesome, glorious, sometimes frightening thing. And it is everywhere, and anywhere.

I wish you wisdom. I wish you peace, asthe green blade rises.”

Old, older still: St Olaf's, York

Old, older still: a York church.

Bottling the Past, Building the Present

So far away: early 2000s Detroit

So far away: Detroit, 2002/3

I have two songs going through my head. One is definitely from my past:

“Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore? / It would be so fine to see your face at my door…” – Carole King, “Tapestry”

The other is from my present: as in, I first heard it after moving to Britain. It was already an old song, but it brings back memories of when we were first married, plus my fears for the future.

All in a single which lasts just over four minutes.

Have you guessed what it is yet?

American Steiff Bear (l), British Car Boot Bear (r)

American Steiff Bear (l), British Car Boot Bear (r)

“One more song about moving along the highway…”

Sing it to me, Carole, love. I was a deeply uncool kid, but even I remember “Tapestry”. That album cover, plus a few others like Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, are among the few I can easily call up from my sometimes haphazard memory.

I’m writing this whilst waiting for a visit from my mental health worker. I’ve not seen them for awhile: part of a plan to move me further and farther along that services highway.

It’s not been the easiest three months or so, but then, who does have an easy life? Like most things, it’s all comparative. And, thanks in part to my job, every week I meet people with so much more to cope with, than me.

Canada Geese, photographed in Yorkshire, can make me think of America.

Canada Geese, photographed in Yorkshire, can make me think of America.

I haven’t managed to start meditation yet, despite the knowledge that it would do me good. Perhaps it’s that business about “one more step” along that highway. Not two, or three, or 17. Just one at a time. Because, gods know, sometimes it’s a struggle just taking that single step.

I am doing a lot better about living in the present, rather than dwelling on the past, or tearing myself into shreds about the future. Like the one in that second song:

“So the past has been bottled …”

Paste on that label, right now. Write on it “with love“.

Then put the bottle away. To revisit, occasionally, on this blog.

Next, get on with your other writing. Your other living.

And never, ever, stop moving forward …. except when you look back, just for a moment, with love.

To the present, and the future: ark not required.

To the present, and the future: ark not required.

Fat, Fifty & Mad: A Blog for Mother’s Day

Mom, taken on VJ Day, at a carnival in Tennessee

Mom, on VJ Day (1945)

“Over the hills and far away…”

It’s an odd song to think of, yet it seems to fit. I know you used to pine for the hills of Tennessee. As a child, you travelled there every summer with your parents, to visit cousins with double-barrelled names like Betty Lou, and John D. And aunties like the one who used to talk about being “down in the piney”, which I took to mean the woods.

Aunt May died so long ago, it’s far too late to ask her.

Or you, of course.

Today, I took these to the PDSA. I like to think you’d approve:

Bless your heart, indeed.

Bless your heart, indeed

I don’t remember you wearing any of these, Mom, and couldn’t see any point in them taking up space in my knicker drawer.

If I need physical things to remember you by, there’s always this chap. Pretty sure I was there when you found him amongst your mum’s things, after Grandmother’s death:

I called him Sebastion. She called him "Teddy".

I called him Sebastian. You called him “Teddy”.

Remember that trip we took to an Ohio shopping centre, where Otto Steiff identified your bear as a “Teddy Baby”, then autographed one of its paws? I don’t know who was more delighted: Otto, at seeing Teddy, or you, at meeting Otto.

Speaking as I was a few minutes ago about my knicker drawer, I’m pleased to say that my speculative children decided to buy me some pretty-but-practical new pants from Marks & Sparks. I considered getting you some flowers – to be displayed at my house, on account of slight problems with distance, and death – but decided to buy you a chocolate chip cookie, instead.

So, Mom. Here I am, your not-so-dutiful daughter: fat, fifty(ish), and mad. You loved words, so you’ll know that “mad” can be taken at least two ways, and that I more than qualify for both.

My report card – which, if I actually still received one, you would almost certainly keep – would probably read: “Could do better”. I’d also get a A+ in swearing, though I have to say my use of scissors and paste has improved considerably since Kindergarten.

For starters, I no longer eat the paste.

So Happy Mothering Sunday, Mom. You kicked this blog off, and have been a reoccurring character ever since.

And what a character, eh?

To the woman with all the best lines,

Love,

Sheila

Ps: Okay if I eat that cookie for you?

""As for me and thee / Make ours tea"

“”As for me and thee / Make ours tea!”

 

 

 

 

Embracing My Inner Idiot

The first in an inordinate number of mug shots.

The first in an inordinate number of mug shots.

“God bless idiocy.” – James Cagney

Unless we live in a cave, and eat rocks for a living, we all rack up a number of labels. Some are generic, such as “Mum”, “sister”, and my personal favourite, “friend”.

Thanks to a quirk of Facebook, I’ve recently added “brainwashed Useful Idiot” to my ragbag of labels. I think it will look rather good on a calling card:

“Sheila North: Useful Idiot”

Beat that, Harry Dresden. “Wizard”, indeed.

The “brain washed” part is a bit redundant. Because who hasn’t watched hours of trash telly, with its endless breakfast cereal adverts, ludicrous complaints about foreigners, and soap operas about troubled Londoners who appear unable to do their own laundry, or toast?

Before I achieved Official Idiocy – prior to that, I was, like Emma Peel, a “talented amateur” – I was already considering a blog about labels, to be called something like “Got it? Flaunt it!

For instance, see Mug Shot 2:

Mug Shot #2

Mug Shot #2

When I learned Simon Saynor at The Notorious Aaardvark Record Shop was offering bespoke mugs, this was my inevitable choice. “Writer” is more flattering, “Weirdo” possibly more accurate. But, whilst I remain in my adopted home of Yorkshire, this is a label I might as well embrace.

Because, apparently, I still sound like I’m fresh off the peanut-butter-and-jelly boat.

At the risk of boring some of you with photos you’ve already seen, I also have this label:

Chair property of "Time to Change Leeds"

Chair property of “Time to Change Leeds”

And the fun I’ve had with it, too! Fancy spending week after week – or month after month – wanting to die? Tails, it’s depression. Or heads, for mania.

Cue the next mug shot:

Aka "Sheila Queen of the World"

Mug Shot #3: Sums up my experience of mania.

I thought I’d waved goodbye to mania, but I’m beginning to think my latest label, Mrs Angry, is not unrelated to the former Missus Manic.

And Mrs Angry is one label I do not choose to either embrace, or get stuck with. It’s not clever. And it’s certainly not pretty.

For now, I’m happy to shake hands with my Useful, Inner Idiot. So long as I know when to stress the “Useful” part: when trying to help someone, including myself. And when to embrace the Idiotic, such as when writing, or taking daft pictures.

It’s one thing to have a big box of labels. It’s quite another not to have a sort out from time to time, and chuck a few away.

The flip side of "Yank": my inner aardvark.

The flip side of “Yank”: my inner aardvark.

On Hols, Since 1986? No.

Acts like a tourist, & sounds like a tourist, does not necessarily = is a tourist

Acts like a tourist, & sounds like a tourist, does not necessarily = is a tourist

You’d think, after nearly 30 years amongst the heathens – sorry, in Doncaster – the locals would’ve stopped asking.

The scene: a market stall, a few weeks back. Me: purchasing a belt. Because, even in Doncaster, it’s not considered good form for your trousers to keep falling down.

Market trader: “How long are you on holiday?”

Me: “Nearly 30 years, and counting.”

Try and assimilate, and what do you get? Decades of daft questions, and poor attempts at American accents. Oh, and being told: “You’ve not lost your American twang.”

Twang? What am I, a bloody banjo?

I could, and quite probably will, whinge for both Britain and America about this. For the rest of my life, in triplicate, with church bells on.

Hatfield Churchyard, May 2012. I bet they have bells.

Hatfield Churchyard, May 2012. I bet they have bells.

This mongrel voice of mine may be as British as it’s going to get. Or perhaps my accent will rot down even further, like a pumpkin on a compost heap, and I’ll end up saying: “Like as ‘eck as not” like a good ‘un.

I’ve been thinking about assimilation, and mongrels – the human kind, not the ones that make puppy eyes at you til you splash out forty quid on squeaky toys, and dog beds – a lot. Because not only am I an Anglo-Romanian-American, I’m living in Muttsville, S Yorks.

I was quite honestly shocked when I realised that three of my local friends were actually born in Donny, rather than elsewhere in the UK. Up til then, most of my Doncaster friends had turned out to be originally from Notts, or Wiltshire, or were Army kids who previously lived in Germany and other parts abroad.

That’s not counting the neighbours and friends who moved here from Pakistan, the Czech Republic, Ireland, the Philippines, the West Indies, etc., etc. Or their children, who were born here, and boast the kind of Yorkshire accents I’m never going to achieve.
.
The flip side of having a mongrel Michigan-Yorkshire accent is that having met me, people tend to remember me. I’d like to think it’s down to great personal charm. Deep down though I know it’s because I have a voice that stumbles and bumbles its way between one continent, and a big county, in a bigger island.

A county and an island that I love: deeply, fiercely. Even, occasionally, despite myself.

So I’ve resigned myself to what remains of a lifetime of answering daft questions, and people taking the piss.

A  close up of the "Elephant and Mahout", from the 2012 exhibition, "The Elephant in the Room"

A close up of the “Elephant and Mahout”, from the 2012 exhibition, “The Elephant in the Room” (1)

Note: The Elephant in the Room” is an on-going project by Doncaster’s Richard Bell, who is known to many in Doncaster as “The Sandhouse Man”.