It has been a source of constant consternation for me, since moving to the States, that every third person I meet assumes I’m an Australian. I’m fairly sure that my Dorset twang sounds nothing at all like the laid back drawl of your average Outback dweller and, ironically, I can’t imitate an Oz accent to save my life.
It really does happen all the time. A lovely tourist couple from Texas visited our art gallery not long ago and excitedly demanded to know which Australian city I hailed from. They were interested mostly because they spent 12 years living over there – even to people well used to the accent, mine apparently cannot be differentiated.
It’s not that I have anything against Australia – I would, in fact, dearly love to explore its oversized wonders, were I not petrified of giant spiders. It’s just that I spent 30 years cultivating this particular way of speaking, only for people to repeatedly question how successful I’ve been.
Unfortunately, I recently lost the right to complain about it. I met a lovely lady by the name of Elizabeth at a meeting of the local school board, which I was covering for the newspaper. She was helpful, courteous and friendly and I enjoyed talking to her very much, all the while marvelling that there was an Australian residing in the next town, adding to my observations of small-town Wyoming as so much more culturally diverse than I thought.
You can guess where this is going, can’t you? Yep, she was from Sevenoaks. Which is nowhere near Brisbane at all, but surprisingly close to London, England. It would seem that we British ex-pats slowly lose our accents, apparently by way of Sydney Harbour.
I’ll just go fetch my cork hat and a tinny, shall I?