Carol is a friendly lady of Carribean (it’s awful, but I never get the spelling of that word quite right) descent. An unreconstructed smoker in what must be her late forties. She walks with a crutch… a recent fall as a result of icy conditions. She exacerbates this injury by driving, but perhaps doesn’t feel she has an alternative, particularly because it’s half-term and she has her teenager in tow.
So, I sit in her office while I wait for her to hobble from her car. I am re-arranging a survey of my flat that should have been carried out some time ago. We conclude our business, and before I can escape she asks, ” Do we have a contact number for you?”
” No. Probably not. We just moved in a couple of months ago.” I can see where this is going.
” Ooh. Okay. Well, could I have your full name, please?” After the usual assessment (carried out at sub-atomic speed since I moved to England), I decide not to give her the Full African.
” Benga.” I give her a good-natured, probably slightly embarassed smile. ” I’ll spell it for you.” I spell it for her. ” Do you need my surname too?”
” Yes.” She joins me in the embarassed smile.
” Okay, I’ll just spell it for you. A-D-E…”
” Hang on, so… A-D-L-E…”
” Um. No. A-D-E-L-E.”
” Oh, sorry. Go on.”
” N. N. K-A-N.”
We made it through. There is a pause. And then the Groundhog Moment begins.
” So, how do you pronounce that? Guh-bem-na? Sorry, uh, Guh-benga?”
” Benga.” Remember, she isn’t getting the Full African. Thankfully she doesn’t appear to know about dubstep.
” Ah, so the G is silent, is it?”
” Something like that.”