An Expats View Of Life In Nerja

Back in the day when the missus and me were putting rucksacks on our backs and catching early morning buses in order to save a dollar, we found ourselves checking into a lovely little guest house in the ancient city of Hue, which is about halfway up the eastern seaboard of the People’s Republic of Vietnam. It was the very early days of tourism in that country and we had gone there under our own steam in the hope of securing a “twinning” agreement on behalf of the People’s Borough of Newham. Hue sitting as it does on the banks of the beautifully named Perfume River, had what we thought was a lot in common with the ‘people’s borough’, sitting as it does on the banks of the River Lee.

Any- way, and what is more to the point, on arrival and after presentation of our passports to the young hotel receptionist, we were floored by his apparent command of the English language, and in particular by his question,

“Please can you tell me what is meant by the Past Pluperfect?”

“No,” we said

“But are you not the countrymen of Shakespeare? Is it not true that of all the western imperialists, you are proud more than any of your beautiful language and enjoy an educational system that even Uncle Ho desired us to emulate?”

“Are you sure you’re not thinking about the French?” we said.

“Uncle Ho was not keen on the French,” said he, “And I think you will find that your ‘Uncle Will’ was born in a place called Stratford, situated on the banks of the River Avon, which is in England, a place with which I hope one day, Hue may be “twinned”.

“There is also another place known as Stratford, situated on the banks of the River Lee,” we retorted, “which, unlikely as it may seem now, may, we hope one day, play host to a great international sports festival, perhaps making it worthy of you and your countrymen’s consideration”.

“You are in room number 12,” he said.

And very nice it was too for the money.

Twenty five years on, and the ignorance of my own language has once again revisited me, becoming an annoying hindrance to the learning of a another- Spanish!
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