Do I detect an accent? 

Just before the lock-down restrictions became our way of life, I found myself, perhaps sub-consciously going into slow down mode. As if my mind and body could
already sense a change was coming, and without realising it, I started moving at a far slower pace. I recall on March 12th, I cancelled all appointments and
RSVP’d ‘no’, to all upcoming engagements.

For the first time in years, I had no flights booked, and no packing to do – usually, I travel between Milan, Monaco and Marbella each month. As a first, I had an empty diary and a sense of freedom. Freedom that I hadn’t realised would soon be taken away. During these days before isolation, I became something of a beach hippy. Marbella, unlike other places, is relatively quiet at this time of year, so I spent my days trying the various chiringuitos,
from Playa Los Monteros to Cabopino. Some fantastic, whilst others should be ashamed of the mess they operate. After a few days of beach lifestyle, and a number of long, sunny lunches, I finally made it to the far end of East Marbella, to a great spot, Simbad. A place I look forward to returning to, once the outside world re-opens. At lunch, as I sipped a glass of wine and stared out to sea, an English man at the next table, leaned in to say he recognised me from my column and asked how lunch was going. He seemed a nice sort-middle aged, well-dressed and smiling. I replied to let him know that both my choices were perfect.

He looked strangely, before asking, “do I detect an accent?”.
I have to admit, it did make me laugh.
“An accent, what on earth do you mean?” I asked, although it was clear what he meant. By my accent, he was, of course, referring to the fact that I wasn’t from the UK. That’s one thing I have noticed since moving to Spain, those from England feel that anyone without a similar accent, is the odd one out. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against people from the UK, or in fact anywhere, but I did feel the need to point something out. This is Europe, a place where many nationalities blend together and the only ones with the “accent” are the non-nationals, of whichever given country we visit. He stared blankly as if offended, before proceeding to list the statistics of how many UK ex-pats there are
on the Costa, and how important they are to the local economy etc.

My accent is somewhat neutral, having lived in London, Italy, Monaco and now Spain. In fact, I am sometimes asked where I’m from, as my accent can sound quite mixed up. When he learned that I’m Irish, he went to crack pretty stupid jokes about the
Irish accent and asked me to say things such as “thirty-three”, to see if I could pronounce it correctly. Naturally, I declined his odd request. It was after about ten
minutes of his now intrusion, that I explained I have trouble understanding most accents from the UK, and while he was finding his evaluation of the Irish accent hilarious, I suggested he look at some of the bizarre accents of his own people. He didn’t find that too funny.

I finished lunch and walked back along the beach, stopping when a lady wished to say hello to my dog, Henry.
“Isn’t it a beautiful evening,” she exclaimed, with a posh London accent. “Innit though,” I
replied with a wink. Try to stay strong, and remember, we will lunch again. Once the restaurants re-open, we must dress up and go out. So many of these bars and
restaurants have supported so many worthy local causes, to keep spirits strong during these tough days. When we are free again, let’s make a huge effort to
support our local businesses.

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Written by

Gavin Lambe-Murphy

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