Absolute Beginner: The Adventures of a Middle-Aged U.K. Newbie

[Blogger’s note: I was born and raised in America, moved to Canada for love in the early Aughts, and recently relocated again, in my 50s, with my British-born spouse to the southern coast of his homeland. This is an occasional series about learning new tricks in Merry Old England.]

The Madonna Syndrome: Learning When and When Not to Talk Like a Brit

Photo_talks_Send“You look to be a man of rude health,” a colleague of my spouse told me when we were introduced at a pub one evening recently. From his genial tone, typical of the Brits I’ve met since moving to the U.K., I guessed that he meant I appeared outwardly robust with no discernible signs of pestilence. But the use of the word “rude” threw me. After all, I was born and raised in the Southern U.S., where rude is never a good thing. He must have noticed the puzzled look on my face because he hastily added, “Oh, sorry, you don’t say ‘rude health’ in America, do you? You say ‘ruddy health,’ I think.” I replied with a noncommittal shrug. After his compliment, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that few Americans apart from jut-jawed New England matriarchs and Teddy Roosevelt have ever boasted about being in “ruddy health.” We’re more partial to “fit as a fiddle,” or “right as rain,” or perhaps just exclaiming “I feel good!” and then attempting a few spirited but clumsy James Brown dance moves. Continue reading