The Queen's English

The Queen’s English

She had always suspected that her future lay elsewhere. Looking through her bedroom window, Beth watched as miles of tear drops ran down the window pane. In dull and dreary Melbourne one thing could be depended upon: it would rain. Fortunately, Beth had better things to occupy herself with than the state of the weather. She was packing, making lists, preparing. Smiling to herself, she clutched a one way airline ticket to London, running her index finger over the area printed with her name. She was leaving, after all these years and she wasn’t coming back.

A few things were going to have to change and Beth was mighty glad of that. She was going to a new job, a new flat, a new country! England here I come! Had been all Beth could think. Of course she wasn’t expecting a direct trade from boring to brilliant. She knew there would be difficulties. To begin with, she would have to start including words such as shan’t into her vocabulary.

“I shan’t imagine using the word shan’t shall be a problem.” Beth laughed aloud. “Finally!”, she called to no-one in particular, “Finally!”

Aboard the huge Boeing 747, Beth listened closely to the British Airlines Stewards, mimicking their accents and replying to offers of coffee or tea in her best version of the Queen’s English. In one instance she was so successful that the lovely young steward, (who was probably gay because he managed to carry on a conversation with Beth for over five minutes without patronising her), mistook her for a native of the U.K. Beth was so flattered that she blushed a wonderful shade of crimson, and in trying to answer what part of England did she come from, completely forgot the name of everywhere on the planet except Newcastle upon Tyne, which as everybody knows, except foreigners pretending to be English, is in the North of England. Nowhere near ‘just out of London’ as Beth had initially said.

All this should not have mattered a hoot, except for the fact that Beth had leased a flat in a building in Sussex which happened to be the same building in which the lovely young, probably gay, British Airlines steward lived. Nearly twenty-four hours later Beth was hauling her luggage up three flights of stairs when the lovely young steward offered to help her. Having helped Beth move into her new flat, the lovely young, probably gay, steward remarked that Beth should consult maps about places she was liable to lie about, in order that she save herself any further embarrassment. And, on top of that, the lovely young steward said that he would have liked to ask Beth out sometime, however he preferred girls who weren’t such bullshit artists. ‘Bollocks’, thought Beth as the lovely young steward closed the door. She was still practicing her vocabulary.

The Queen's English

Joanna Beilby

East Bentleigh, Australia

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Artist's Description

Short Story

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