The following is an extract from my (hopefully) forthcoming book, which is tales and anecdotes, and brief historical facts gleaned from living most of my 76 years in Norfolk. If you don’t know Norfolk, this might seem a little strange!
Jackie was a local lady, and always had been. Narwich, as she pronounced it, had been her home from birth. My wife had met her at a ladies fellowship while we were living in the city, and as a result we were both invited to a social event at the local Methodist church where Jackie was a member.
An invitation to a tea party at Buckingham Palace would bring a certain degree of excitement and anticipation to most people. However, that would not compare with the state of near delirium emanating from Jackie, as she beamed at one person after another, gyrating around the church hall. Her heavy court shoes tended to clonk on the wooden floor as they carried her sturdy frame from one small group to another. Her hair had been in curlers, and she had clearly spent some time in front of the mirror applying make-up before arriving at the Methodist bunfight. I suspected that she had been waiting for my wife and I, for within seconds of us entering, there was a rapid clonking as she rattled over to us. “Thank yew for carmin’ this ev’ning,” she gushed. “There’s tea, carffee and sorft drinks. And quiche. We always hev quiche at our soocials. I’m sure yew loike quiche. There’s two diff’rent ones. Yew can choose, actually.”
And then with a giggle, “Or yew can hev one of each.” Her excitement simply overflowed, and I must confess to feeling totally underwhelmed. Well really, soft drinks and two different flavours of quiche!
And then she was fetching two ladies over to meet us. Quivering with unabated excitement, she thrust them forward, saying by way of introduction, “This is June, and this is June.”
“Nice to meet you June,” I said, reaching out to shake hands with the first June. And as I shook hands with the second June, my wife echoed, “Lovely to meet you June.” At which point there was the hint of misunderstanding, as Jackie’s beaming smile faded momentarily. “No. This is June. That is June.”
Jackie’s explanation of a seemingly non-existent problem left me perplexed. “You are both called June?” I ventured. “No,” said Jackie, now a little agitated. “This is June, and this is June. June!”
We paused. We quietly racked our brains. We prayed. And suddenly, all was clear.
Jackie was not saying, ‘This is June, and this is June.’ She was actually saying, ‘This is June, and this is Joon’. Subtle. This was Norfolk, where beautiful is bootiful, queue is koo, and Susan is Soosan. Indeed, our good friend John Pugh is unfortunately addressed as Mr. Poo. Needless to say, Joan was Joon, sounding like June.
“Sorry,” I said. “My mistake. Nice to meet you June. And my pleasure entirely Joan.”
“That’s what Oi said,” Jackie added defensively, “June and June”.
It can be a little confusing, even to a chap who has been in the county for quite a while. One needs to remember that in Norfolk, we indeed do different.
A Shiver in My Finger should be published early summer next year.