Summer's here and the time is right for giving this place a good old clean and tidy-up. To which end, I have just got myself a brand new industrial strength (2100kW) vacuum cleaner (not a Dyson, but the traditional kind) which, while boasting a special horsehair parquetry brush, unfortunately only came in midnight blue. It also came with a manual as thick as your arm, a 5-year warranty, and a price tag to match (ouch!). But the sales clerk assured me the motor would probably still be running on it in 15-20 years' time, so the hefty price should work out as a steal 2 decades from now. I hope. Right now, I've got to unpack it, assemble it, and see if it really does do a better job of sucking up the dust from my parquetry floor with that horsehair brush than my previous cheap piece o'crap hoover without such a nifty device ever did.
There was one slightly uncomfortable/embarrassing moment during the purchasing proceedings, though; and it had nothing to do with the hoover or the price tag, but with the almost inevitable reaction I tend to get from sales people especially, "Do I detect the hint of an English accent?" I would like to tell them that "No, you do not!", but I've gotten this remark so often in recent times that I'm starting to wonder whether something in my use of my native tongue hasn't gone slightly off through my daily exposure to and use of the English language at work for the last 13 years. I don't know whether it's the cadence, the turn of phrase, the way I enunciate (my fellow countrymen tend to not make a clear distinction between d- and t-sounds at the end of words, whereas I do), or simply my pronunciation of the English words our language is interspersed with, like 'computer' and 'printer' and 'monitor', that leads them to suppose that I'm non-native Dutch, and it embarrasses me when they next compliment me on my mastery of what they suppose is their language, not mine.
I got the same reaction from Rutger last week, when I told him that I hurt my ankle while in Manchester some years ago, and the way I pronounced the name of the city made him think I might be from the UK, as "no Dutch person could ever quite say it like that" -- but I'm Dutch, and I honestly don't know how else I should say 'Manchester' if I am to avoid this constant confusion over my nationality. Perhaps it would be best if I never mentioned the place of my accident ever again, to anyone.