Tomorrow morning Chantell and I are off to have facials - at a fraction of the cost I pay in London, and in the evening we are going to see Nathaniel again. She loves this performer, but I struggle to keep up with the Afrikaans bit of the show (he does it in English too) which is fast and filled with cultural references I am no longer privy to. I was never very good at speaking the language, and now that I haven't spoken it in nearly 10 years, it's bordering on non-existent. I can still understand basic things, but more complex vocabulary is lost on me.
My dad hated the fact that I was so bad at the language - as he was perfectly bilingual and able to speak both English and Afrikaans, switching imperceptibly from one to the other without a trace of the others' accent. He told me, with a disgruntled look on his face, that I spoke Afrikaans like an Englishman - which for some reason always secretly pleased me. Now that I am older I appreciate what a skill it is to be able to speak languages without an accent, and am told that Parisians have been known not to respond when you attempt their language with an overt English or American accent. Personally I've never had this experience, but then again my French is so basic it consists of mainly 'please' and 'thank yous' that only the most hardened Frenchman wouldn't acknowledge - if only out of pity.
Today I tried changing my flight to one day later, and the woman at Virgin told me in a clipped tone that the flight I wanted was full. When I asked if I could upgrade with airmiles she sounded annoyed and told me that there were no air mile upgrades available either. She sounded angry, and being a woman I took it personally and got off the phone feeling a bit upset. Why is it that some of the most maladjusted angry individuals seek out public-facing jobs? I can never quite understand that. There's no need to gush, but simple politeness never hurt anyone. In fact this world would be a richer place if people employed simple manners and a polite attitude.
I am learning a lot from my niece and nephew, and thank god they both seemed to have skipped the passive aggressive gene that runs in my family. My mother made a poor joke to my niece about her not wanting pudding because she was on a diet, thinking it funny because she so obviously didn't need to go on a diet - being a skinny 13-year-old and all. But as we all know, you never, ever, talk about a teenage girls's weight even to point out how slim she is. Lauren, who is not even three yet, responded to my mother in a stern little tone, "Don't say that, that's a mean thing to say." My mother was embarssed and stunned into silence.
I beamed at her - what an assertive little girl to be able to tell someone off for making an inappropriate comment - and how astute to be able to notice that it was inappropriate in the first place. My mother was not impressed - in her generation children who speak like that are being cheeky, but I quickly added that I thought assertion was a good thing to learn from a young age, as I still often become mute with shock when someone is rude to me, and then stew over things later when the moment to retort is long gone. My mother only glared at me, which reminded me that I got called cheeky quite a bit myself when I was a kid.