Breakfast’s Ready! – July’s Culture Article

Breakfast’s Ready!

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by Margaret Watson

All of us are used to foreign cuisine, even if we have never left our home country. We have at least heard of, if not tried, food from many lands – pasta perhaps or pizza, curry or moussaka , couscous and Salad Nicoise. Few of us have problems with such things. Breakfasts though can be another matter. Go into a French supermarket for instance and look in vain for your favourite cereal or even English sausage and bacon. In Germany my daughter was offered doughnuts and sauerkraut. I think my weirdest breakfast ever was on a plane which served a very spicy, stone cold, spinach omelette which I was assured was a ‘Full English Breakfast’. Americans eat bacon with syrup and pancakes and I know at least one Australian who eats grated beetroot for breakfast on the days she doesn’t eat grated apple – but she was just strange whatever her nationality. When I lived in Pakistan a kind hearted neighbour bought me what she had for breakfast several times a week until I plucked up the courage to tell her that large amounts of boiled, spicy spinach just weren’t my thing.

English is Always Changing

English is Always Changing

by Margaret Watson

 

I studied linguistics at university. The emphasis was on how language changed over the years from Beowulf to hip-hop.

We are decorating at the moment so old books have been moved and I have in front of me ‘Historical Slang’ – some 50,000 terms, many of them quite crude, that are no longer used by English speakers. Elsewhere I have ‘Hobson, Jobson’ a book of words used in British India – some of which are still in use both by Indians and Brits, but most of which are obscure to say the least.

Where Do I Come From?

Where Do I Come From?

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by Margaret Watson

 

I was born only a few miles from the geographical centre of England. My cousin, the daughter of my mother’s twin, was born a few weeks earlier only 18 miles further south. Throughout our childhood we saw each other several times a month. You would think then that our accents would be similar, but even in this relatively small island there are numerous differences – few men from Cornwall would understand first time round someone from Tyneside in the North East and vice versa. My cousin and I are quite similar in lots of ways, we even look alike and in early photographs it is difficult to tell her children from mine. However, we pronounce many words rather differently. She has always lived below the line that differentiates those who use a long vowel and those who cut it short. – She says ‘BARTH’ and I say ‘BATH’. She says ‘PARTH’ and I say ‘PATH’. My children, who spent their early years in the south and grew up near Manchester, have combined the two – They have a ‘BARTH’ in the ‘BATH’ or even a ‘BATH’ in the ‘BARTH’, while hers are definitely southerners.

Who are we?

Who Are We?

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by Margaret Watson

 

I don’t know about you, but I get a little confused at times as to who exactly I am and even what to call myself. It depends upon the circumstances and who I am with to some extent: In a shop I may be ‘Madam’ or ‘Love’. In other parts of the country it might be ‘Duck’, ‘Pet’, ‘Luvva’ or ‘Hen’ At home I can be Margaret, Maggie, or Mom. Elsewhere I might be Mrs Watson or John’s wife, Jo’s Mom, Brenda’s sister or even occasionally myself. I have been identified as Alf’s daughter, Lizzie’s niece, Eric’s cousin – I could go on. I am a wife and mother, a daughter, sister, cousin, neighbour. I am a cook, a midwife, a gardener, a writer, a preacher, the lady at number 60 and a woman. Sometimes I take on several of these roles in one day and even more than one at once.

The English Garden – July’s Culture Article

 

The English Garden

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by Margaret Watson

This week we have had the Royal Chelsea Garden Show, one of the best and most famous in the world. Gardeners come from as far away as Japan to show their blooms and skills at Chelsea. Although I lived in central London for a number of years I’ve never been. For one thing it is too crowded and for another the crowds are only allowed to view the gardens from the edge. For me it is all about handling the plants, brushing against them, smelling as well as seeing the roses, the freesias and more exotic blooms. I prefer to watch this one on the television with my feet up and a cup of tea. I can listen to the interviews with the growers and designers and see the plants close up. It isn’t as good as real life, but it will do. The one time I would like to be at Chelsea is at closing time on the last day – that’s when they sell off the plants for charity. I’d need more than a taxi to get home that day.