The Good Neighbour by Beth Miller
Published by Ebury Press
10 September 2015
I’m so pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Beth’s second novel. Beth has written a post especially for this stop on the tour and I hope you enjoy it. My review will be posted tomorrow.
|picture by Katie Vandyck|
You say potato, I say potahto
My dear friend Annabel married an American chap fresh out of university, and she’s lived in the States ever since. Twenty-something years later, she’s pretty much gone native: she has a charming transatlantic accent, understands the rules of baseball, and her kids call her ‘Mom.’ But when her book group recently decided* to read my first novel, When We Were Sisters, she proved that she still has one foot back in good old Blighty.
* It’s possible that Annabel ‘strongly encouraged’ them
We’d planned that I would do a Skype chat with the group during their discussion of my book. Them in Maryland, me in Sussex, at 10.30pm in the evening, to take into account of the time difference (though I suspect they were forced to start on the wine rather earlier than usual). A few days before our Skype hook-up, Kim, one of the members of the book group, sent Annabel an email, carefully listing all the words and phrases in the book she had not previously encountered. I suddenly realised that my novel is an example of that old saw, “two nations divided by a common language“. The book was littered (garbaged?) with weird British-isms that, though completely obvious to me, were baffling to an American audience.
Annabel sent Kim a ‘translation’ sheet, which made me laugh a great deal. The two women have been kind enough to allow me to share their original comments with you. Kim’s puzzled questions are in quotes; Annabel’s translations are underneath in italics.
“Drinking Babycham – don’t know what that is.”
Disgusting sparkling alcoholic drink that is really ‘girlie.’
“Quick tea of beans on toast – sounds like putting beans and toast in the tea to me, so maybe you guys could elaborate on what that means.”
Tea is the word used for ‘dinner’ in many regions – the main evening meal usually served sometime around 5-6pm. Beans on toast is Heinz baked beans served on toast – really common for a quick meal (like grilled cheese for us).
“A Thunderbirds puppet with tubes sprouting from both arms – no clue.”
The Thunderbirds puppets were really cheesy marionette puppets on TV when we were kids – they were kind of heroes who responded to threats to world peace.
“He’s a stroppy bugger, ain’t he?”
Stroppy means grumpy/argumentative (to be ‘in a strop’ is to be really pissed off).
“The baby sparked out on his shoulder – it sounds so cute, is that a common phrase?”
Sparked out means asleep – regional, not common where I grew up.
“Looked like I’d got the lurgy – again, no clue.”
The lurgy is any general illness when you feel like crap.
“Did a quiz in Patches”??
Patches was a teen magazine, full of quizzes on topics such as ‘what hot celebrity should you date?’, ‘your perfect skin care routine,’ ‘how well do you know Adam Ant?’ etc…
“Big packet of Maltesers”
Maltesers are chocolate malt balls.
“I’d got the idea from Blue Peter”
Blue Peter is a children’s TV show that has been on since the 60s. It has live hosts and one of the features is craft ideas using everyday household items (every year we would make the Christmas mobile out of wire clothes hangers wrapped in tinsel).
“He smelled of TCP”
TCP is a topical antiseptic for cuts and scrapes, a clear yellow liquid. The smell evokes hospitals. The boy Miffy was kissing probably put TCP on his zits.
“Wearing a bedtime fug”
Fug is a musty body odor (like the way your car smells when your teenage son removes his soccer cleats after the game).
“There’s a choice of bourbons or garibaldis”
Bourbons are chocolate cookies. They’re rectangular and have chocolate cream sandwiched in the middle – yummy. Garibaldis are weird vanilla cookies with little bits of raisins sandwiched in the middle. Disgusting, we called them ‘dead fly biscuits’.
“Glynn mooches in”
Mooch means slouching in, typical of sullen teenagers.
Biro is a ballpoint pen
Knackered means tired
Kim concluded her email with: “At least thanks to Harry Potter I know what snog means. And thanks to the I Get Knocked Down song by Chumbawamba, I know what pissed means…”
The book group were absolutely lovely and we had a hilarious Skype session. They have promised to read my second novel – The Good Neighbour – and I can’t wait to hear which words puzzle them in that. I also want to meet them again so I can ask how they manage without the word ‘lurgy’ – I use it all the time.
If you’ve encountered words or phrases that were new to you in a UK or US book (depending on where you are), I’d love to hear about it.
Everyone has secrets. How far will you go to protect yours?
After living next to the neighbours from hell, Minette is overjoyed when Cath and her two children move in next door. Cath soon becomes her confidante, a kindred spirit, even her daughter’s babysitter.
But Cath keeps herself unusually guarded and is reluctant to speak of her past. And when Minette witnesses something unspeakable, she begins to question whether she really knows her new friend at all…
An addictive and gripping novel, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Daughter
Beth’s written two novels, When We Were Sisters and The Good Neighbour, both published by Ebury (Random). She’s also written a book called For The Love of The Archers, out in October. She is writing a third novel, which is so far only twelve chapters long, yet already has four different versions. One day she will learn to write efficiently.