Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 23rd 2015 Contents B9
Thursday, July 23, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
I still cannot speak French. I was grateful, how-
ever, to my friend Jimmy who offered to send me
Michel Thomas Learn French CD.
Jimmy moved to Valencia in Spain two years ago
and is, somewhat painfully, trying to learn Spanish.
He has patient friends who suppress their mirth as
he struggles to conjugate verbs.
Recently, a Jehovah s Witness knocked on his door
holding a bible. Jimmy kept him there for almost an
hour while he practised saying things very slowly
until the Jehovah became annoyed, snatched back
the bible and left muttering things that Jimmy didn t
understand. Jimmy is an atheist.
"When it comes to learning French it doesn t get
easier than the Michel Thomas Method," says the
blurb on the website of the eponymous languages
guru. "It eases you into the French language like an
Old English sheepdog into a deep warm bath."
That s what I wish it said. It actually says "...by
breaking it into its component parts."
Before I continue, an update for regular readers:
In a dramatic turn of events, the studio apartment
in Paris Latin Quarter which was to be sublet to us
by the girl who relocated to Luxembourg and her
boy who relocated to Cote D Ivoire, has fallen through!
Instead, we will now be living in Montmartre in
the apartment of a Mexican couple who live in Pak-
istan. I met one half of the couple some years ago
on a press trip to Las Vegas where we spent three
days with a group of other journalists sampling spa
treatments, pool parties and restaurants. People still
don t believe me when I tell them it was jolly hard
These international connections made me think
about our amazing globalised world which grows
smaller each day through social networks which are,
essentially, modern-day telecommunications.
In the past, I would not have had contacts in Haiti,
Senegal, Palestine, Israel, Ghana or Singapore unless
I spent considerable time and effort maintaining
contact through letters, expensive phone calls and
Simultaneously, the progress of international rela-
tions means we are witnessing exciting historic devel-
opments like Washington opening an embassy in
Havana---and vice versa---as normalisation between
the two countries kicks in.
Global trade facilitates the flow of both economic
and cultural capital. Between 2010 and 2014, for
example, 29m litres of rum was exported by Barbados
to the US with US$98m flowing the other way; 13m
litres of rum (US$65m) was traded by Jamaica to the
US and 18m litres (US$30m) by T&T.
All that money, all that rum, all tomorrow s par-
On a social level, with better travel links and more
porous borders, we Londoners are blessed to be sur-
rounded by people we would never have dreamt of
meeting on high streets 20 years ago---Lithuanians,
Bulgarians, Colombians, Vietnamese, Congolese,
Chileans, Finns, Iraqis and Iranians.
But some people are determined to cry at this
party. For some, our globalised world with its transfer
of populations is a threatening thing. The march of
time, culture, language and colour is something they
only want to happen on their own terms.
The 1960s cult actor Terence Stamp this week told
a newspaper columnist: "It s very sad how few English
people there are in London now."
Stamp is right in saying the number of English
people has decreased. Currently five million of Lon-
don s eight million people are UK-born and the other
three million come from around the world. Stamp
may even be right in saying this decrease is a sad
thing, but it s not sad for the reasons he implies (that
foreigners are taking over), it s sad because English
people in multi-ethnic areas seem determined to
"When I grew up in East London everyone seemed
to speak English, and now you can barely get by
speaking our own language," Stamp said, implausi-
bly.One in ten Londoners born in other countries are
unable to speak English, according to census data.
Though this number (300,000 people) may seem
high, many of those people are, like Stamp, aged
over 65 and live, like Stamp, exclusively within their
own communities. The fact they don t speak English
doesn t affect anybody else s life. If Stamp moved to
India, I d be surprised if he picked up the language.
Stamp went on to give a ridiculous example of
how this language barrier affects him.
"I absolutely love mangoes and so occasionally I
go back to buy these wonderful Alphonso mangoes
from the market on Green Street," he said.
"I m lucky if I can buy one now at all because no
one speaks English."
I probably don t need to point out that the origin
of these mangoes is the same as the people selling
them. Presumably Stamp prefers his mango-sellers
to have cockney accents, not Indian. Like the geezer
outside my tube station who writes and pronounces
"Julie mangoes," like the month of July.
Although the issue could be solved simply by point-
ing at the mangoes he wishes to purchase, there is
nonetheless a serious issue at stake for poor Terry.
If Terry can t get his mangoes there s no reason for
him to come to the East End and he would instead
be stranded in his house in the California hills, com-
pletely bereft of fruit and social contact.
Spare a thought for Terence. Stop Johnny Foreigner
coming over here flogging us mangoes.
How do you like them apples, Terrence? British?
I thought so. Toodle pip.
Poor Terry can't
get his mangoes
Terence Stamp believes a language barrier is
stopping him from enjoying his favourite Indian
mangoes in London.
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