Someone heard me holding forth (waxing lyrical I thought) on Radio 4 last week and said I sounded West Country. Apparently I had come over all Wurzel. And there’s me thinking I was an RP person.
The lady I had to phone in Louisiana about a possible visit from Natural Theatre Company certainly thought so. I was discussing mundane details such as dressing rooms and excess baggage allowances. I just lurve your accent, she suddenly interjected in tones redolent of steamy nights on a rickety veranda in a bad Tennessee Williams play. I was somewhat taken aback.
I didn’t know I had one says I, fearing a Cheryl Cole moment was coming on and we would be refused the gig because nobody stateside would understand us.
You sure do, she continued, silkily. Why you British could make the side of a cornflake packet sound like Shakespeare! What, like riboflavin I asked, in my best Leslie Phillips voice? This was followed by what I can only imagine was the sound of her melting like jelly at the other end of the phone line. Irony was obviously not her strong point.
Well, we did get the gig, and though I never met the sultry sounding lady in question, I imagine she looked not unlike Liz Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Well, there’s nothing better than a good stereotype.
While we were there, we stayed at a hotel which once accommodated the Beatles. There was a signed photo of the loveable mop tops in the foyer. One day we were invited to dine with the sheriff. It was raining, as is usual for Louisiana, and seeing us in our finest tuxedos, the gold-braided commissionaire offered to bring the car to the door. This literally involved moving the limousine about ten feet, but I think he just wanted to line it up with the red carpet that straddled the sidewalk outside. Thanks, but we can walk to the car I said in my finest sardonic manner. We don’t mind the rain, we’re English.
The commissionaire whooped, slapped his thigh and came out with this cracker: Sheet! I knew yous was English cos yous all speak jus’ like Paul McCartney!
Come on, Cheryl, just repeat after me: Riboflavin, pet.