It is my opinion, supported by clinical tests conducted across the northern hemisphere, that persons who seem to hail from foreign climes get better street directions than persons who sound like feckless locals. As one soon to don her pith helmet and start scything through the jungles of exotic Melborneo, I want to be able to sound like the ignorant new-comer I am, rather than a fifth-generation St-Kildarite who happens not to know how to buy tram tickets. To this end, I have recently been revisiting my accent repertoire, trying to decide between Glaswegian, Wessex, Bavarian and Russian.
It takes the better part of half an hour to stroll from the Leichhardt Ladies' Hostel to l'office, and I'm in the habit of using that time to flex the old larynx and natter away to an invariably delightful imaginary interlocutor. Today I was speaking to my imaginary interlocutor in a Russian accent. Just as I had intoned, quite loudly, "Hallo, my name is Vlasta. I would like you for to show me where is seller of tram tickets please", I heard a crunch behind me, and realised that my imaginary interlocutor and I were not alone. Indeed, we were sharing the footpath with a debonair young gent looking more groomed than Sophia Loren's eyebrows. He favoured me with a wary smirk and promptly crossed to the other side of the street.
Something I said? Surely not!