Discover Challenge: Identity

identity card
This identity card is a curiosity, a rarity. It was issued by the British Government for me and Identity Cards, as far as I know, were perhaps only issued in Great Britain during the war. I discovered this when sorting some stuff and really do not know why I have it. I know I visited the Soviet Union, as Russia was then known, in 1964, but then I was 18 years old and the card states “under sixteen years”. Perhaps mum was worried that someone might steal me and so she organised an identity card. I know I was given a collective identity card for my school trip to Russia. We all had one, but had to return it after the journey. At that time only the chosen few travellers bothered with a passport.

identity cardSo who am I really. I am British, I am Swiss, but I am in the middle somewhere. Is an identity what you have, or what you feel? There are some days where I feel British, especially when I miss my lemon curd, beans on toast, or even Cadbury’s Milk flakes – all english food. On the other hand what is life without Zürich sliced veal in a cream sauce, or potatoes grated and fried on each side to resemble a potato flan, known as Rösti in Switzerland. We all have our own little quirks of identity.

I am a Londoner, and proud of it? Am no longer so sure. I used to be proud of it, but then I only knew Switzerland from photos, yodelling and cows. Of couse, I would not forget to mention the Swiss chocolate, although to be quite honest, I only really like the dark, almost black, chocolate. Swiss chocolate usually gives people a melt-in-your-mouth vision of something that came from the Swiss gods. Actually we do not have gods, just one lady called Helvetia. I don’t really know what she did, but she is engraved on our money. I suppose she is the Swiss Britannia, although I believe that Britannia did win a few battles, leading her men to victory and Helvetia just sort of sat and posed for her engraving. Anyhow it is probably as genuine as the British George killing a dragon.  There were no dragons and George had probably drunk too much ale to know what really happend. He might have rescued a damsel in distress, but I have a feeling the real distress for the damsel  was after he rescued her.

Anyhow, back to my identity. Now we have a 70 year old golden oldie that speaks fluent Swiss German with her husband, neighbours and actually all day long.

“Mr. Swiss, do you notice that I am english?”

“Oh yes (with a laugh), you still say ……. and ……. (telling me the grammatical mistakes that are embellished in my knowledge of the swiss language) but you speak it very well really.”

which is part of a conversation I had with my husband yesterday to establish a basis for this epic blog I am writing.

The only real english people I am able to talk with are those that might call me on the telephone. English is not really english, but what country does not have its quirks of dialect and so I switch from my Swiss German to cockney english when on the phone. Is it really not surprising when now and again I get the languages mixed up and speak Swiss with my english colleagues. It is then that suddenly a deathly silence arrives on the phone and I might realise why.

I am sorry to say I cannot identify my financial state of affairs with the Swiss system. No, I do not have a numbered bank account. Forget it, I do not have enough money to want to stash it away in an anonymous place. That is only for the rich and beautiful and I am neither, although I don’t look too bad for a 70 year old.

Delving into my ancestry I discovered that part of them were Huguenots escaping from the evil French and emigrating to London, many thanks to Mr. Camroux the first to arrive in London, who made the decision. Unfortunately not all of them escaped and were doomed to life on the galleys as prisoners, if they survived.

As I did not find any other foreign signs in the family, I imagine the rest were all sturdy anglosaxons with blond hair and blue eyes fighting against the evil Vikings. I believe the Vikings had red hair, so they probably did not mix with my tribe, but you never know.

I now come to the conclusion, not wanting to write an book on the subject, that I have one leg in England and the other in Switzerland, which is a rather large step to take. I have a Swiss Identity Card and would also have a British Passport, if I had bothered to renew it last year – costs too much money and not worth the trouble.

My children are Swiss as Mr. Swiss, I am the only foreign body in the family.

I identify myself with the Swiss, no, with the British, oh forget it. Born in England, left at the age of 20 and spent the last 50 years in Switzerland – work it out yourself.

Discover Challenge: Identity

Daily Prompt: Non-Regional Diction – I am the real Eliza Doolittle

Write about whatever you’d like, but write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent

Dad's 100th Birthday

That’s me dad reading ‘is card from the British mob in the parliament when ‘e ‘ad ‘is 100th birfday. Nah I don’t wanna show off, but it ain’t everyone that can say that. ‘E was born and bred in Stratford one of those parts of London where it’s all real, where the cockneys come from. We are a bit different to all the uvvers, like we all talk different. We ain’t as posh as the rest, but we all ‘ave golden ‘earts. Somewhere on the way we dropped our aitches and decided that if you say no twice, it is still no, so if we ain’t got nuiffing, it still means we ‘ave somefing, but all the posh might wanna say that if you ain’t, then you ain’t got a nuffing, because it’s saying the same fing twice, like are you all wiv me? Corse you are uvverwise you can’t speak proper english like we do dahn in the East End.

Corse for them that ain’t cockneys, it might get a bit complicated to get the meaning. Nah my old man never referred to me as the trouble an strife, but ‘e’s Swiss see, so it’s too advanced for ‘im. It’s a wonder we ever got married, but luv always finds a way dunnit, at least that’s wot they say. Me, I ain’t really a real cockney ‘cos you ‘ave to be born wivvin the sahnd of Bow Bells and I wasn’t. All the ‘ospitals in London were full up when the soljers came ‘ome from the war ‘cos their troubles and strifes were all ‘aving kids, so like no room for me mum and she ‘ad to go to a place called ‘itchin, a bit furver away, too far for me dad to be there when I arrived. Anyhow she managed it, but like the government stole me cockney rights ‘cos there were no Bow Bells in ‘itchin. All the same I grew up speaking the lingo and I soon learned that there were no stairs, just apples and pears, as well as a frog and toad (that’s the road).

So there we ‘ave it, the rhyming slang, altho I don’t know it all, jus bits and pieces, like me dad would ‘ave a butchers‘ook at the black an white wiv ‘is bins on (look at the newspaper wearing his glasses). One fing I noticed is that this computer don’t like cockney. It keeps ‘aving to correct it all when I’m writing and after all it’s all english ain’t it?

Any’ow back to dad. Yer ‘e was real proud getting that telegram, even if ‘e didn’t say so. ‘E even got a card from the Queen and ‘e never even really liked ‘er, but ain’t everyone that gets a card from the baked bean is it and it didn’t even cost anyfing. Most stuff from the baked bean does. I fink I will now put me daisy roots on and go for a ride in the jam jar, it looks a bit Mork and Mindy outside.

Daily Prompt: Non-Regional Diction – I am the real Eliza Doolittle

Daily Prompt: Non-Regional Diction

Write about whatever you’d like, but write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us LOCAL.


Was – ig glaube es nit. Ig soll uf schwiizertütsch öppis schriebe. Dash isch nit ernscht. Es würde nieme verstah u ig bi sicher es wäre langwielig.

What more or less says “Huh, I don’t believe it. I should write something in Swiss German. That cannot be serious. No-one would understand and I am sure it would be boring.” OK I might even have a few mistakes in the written Swiss German, but written Swiss German does not really exist as such. Everyone writes in their own way, but following the German way of doing it. One author comes to mind that wrote in dialect, Jeremias Gotthelf. He was a priest in a place called Lützelflüh and wrote about the local yokels, some of his stories were filmed (naturally in original Swiss German) and they are really good.

Swiss German is what is spoken in the German speaking part of Switzerland – logical really. But there are as many dialects as places almost. We can start with hello – where I live in Solothurn “Gruessech”, in Zürich “Gruetzi”. Saying goodbye is easier, “ciao” has become quite Swissified in all language regions, after all it is Italian. Wait a minute, some say “adieu” but that comes from the French influence. Of course the people living in the Kanton (State) of Graubünden would say “Sta bain” as a farewell, but they have their own language with about six different dialects. So you take a walk along a street in a village in Graubünden and meet someone, they greet you with “Allegra”.

I think I had better keep with English, as this Swiss German stuff with its over one hundred dialects and four languages is going to confuse everyone. Me – I have been living in Switzerland for 46 years, 44 of which I have been married to a native, so if you cannot beat them, just join them.

Nah let me talk in cockney. That was me lingo where I grew up, dahn in the East End of London, Befnal Green to be exact. I ain’t gonna explain all the rhyming slang, as that gits more complicated as the years go by. At one time me dad would talk about “ ‘aving a dekker at the black and white” and “gimme mi bins”. Eesy peesy ‘e just want to ‘ave a look at the newspaper and needs ‘is glasses.

Of course that cockney stuff is getting more modern every day. Like they now talk about a “Bobby Moore” ya know, that was a footballer dahn in West Ham, but these days a Bobby Moore ‘as become a door. Ya can also talk abaht a Gordon and Gotch – easy – a watch. And so it goes on wiv all that new stuff. In my days it was just dahn the apples and pears (like the stairs), or go dahn the frog and toad (the road). We don’t really talk that way so much any more, but it ain’t wot you say it’s the way that you say it I suppose. The first cockney rule is drop your ‘aches. You know that letter that comes after “g” and before “I” in the alphabet. It just don’t exist east of the City of London. We don’t need it. Have becomes “ave” and a real advanced  word would be “ain’t” but that for the clever ones cos it means “have not” in the Queen’s language. Nah it even goes furver like “you ain’t got nuffing”. Nah that really need some finking, like exhausting the old brain cells. If you ain’t not nuffing you got somefing, but dahn in my part of London it don’t mean that, cos it means you got somefing. Just a matter of knowing wot you talking abaht.

So that’s enuf for now. I ‘ad a look in YouTube and fahnd a little film where they had a cockney crew in Star Trek, so let’s see if ya can understand it.

‘ave fun.

Daily Prompt: Non-Regional Diction

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Weekly Writing Challenge: A Manner of Speaking

This is right up me street mate. Yer see I was born a cockney. Now I ain’t going to write all that rhymin’ slang cos ya won’t understand it, I can’t be bovvered to explain it all and you probably won’t get it all any’ow. The fing is you ‘ave to drop all your aches. You know that letter in the alphabet, comes after g and before i. I don’t mean it makes a crash bang and lands on the floor, it just don’t exist in cockney, don’t need ‘em, so frow ‘em away. Like we live in a ‘ouse. Somefing else, we luv doing two no’s when we talk. Like I ain’t got nuffing, see. If you ain’t got nuffing, then you ‘ave to ‘ave somefing, but you don’t ‘ave somefing cos you’ve already said that you ain’t got nuffing. Simple ain’t it.

Nah I was ‘appy wiv all this way to talk. Me mum understood me, me dad knew wot I was talking about, and so did me aunts and uncles. Of course it weren’t the proper Kings English was it? At least I don’t fink that Queen Elizabeff talked like that. She was more in the way of talking wiv an apple in her gob.

Then I got older, like wasn’t a cockney sparra any more, but grew up and ‘ad to go to a posh school, like ‘igh school and they wanted us all to talk proper. We were all from the East End of London and cockneys, some more than ovvers. I was a bit more. All the same I ’ad to learn to speak proper, so if you can’t beat ‘em you join ‘em and I was quite good wiv me vowels and consonents. I even started to use me aches.

And then something remarkable happened. I threw all this cockney behind me and left England to work in Switzerland, thinking that I would get by with my English language and my elementary German. Wrong! If you think that German does not have any dialects or accents, then forget it. The Swiss invented the dialect. No-one speaks good German at home, on the streets or in the supermarkets. They invented the dialect. First of all they have four languages. German in the East, French in the West, Italian in the South and sandwiched between all of this somewhere in the mountains in the east they speak Romansh which is a language descending from Vulgar Latin. That would be complicated enough, but dialect being the mother of invention in Switzerland Romansch is also split into roughly four dialects.

The German language in Switzerland has more than 30 dialects, varying according to which village or town you live in. What the French do with their language I am not sure, but I do know it can vary with the way things are said, and the French find the Swiss French quite amusing. Italian is spoken in a sing-song sort of way.

I would add that in the Swiss German schools, so-called high German is spoken, otherwise the Swiss children would grow up speaking a dialect that only the Swiss would understand. Switzerland is a small country with approximately seven million population, so the Swiss would be quite isolated with their strange guttural dialect(s). Broadcasting language is also basically high German the news and the weather forecast also, but the rest is a mixture. They seem to speak what they feel like speaking.

So there I was, a simple cockney sitting in Zürich with two years high German confronted with everyone speaking their own dialect. I decided to move from Zürich to another town, perhaps hoping that the dialect choice would be restricted. No, I was a sucker for punishment. Not only did they speak differently in Solothurn, where I arrived, but I even married one of them, my Mr. Swiss.

I have now been living in Switzerland for forty-six years, forty-four of which I have been married to a Swiss and even possess a Swiss passport. Mr. Swiss brought two Swiss children into the marriage, who could speak basically only Swiss German. I myself made a contribution of two children, who grew up in Switzerland speak Swiss German as their mother tongue. What choice did I have?

So that the story of a cockney in Switzerland. Not that I ‘ave forgot me cockney. Oh yea, I can still speak it if I want to, trouble being that no-one would understand it. Mr. Swiss can understand it, ‘e ‘ad to, ovverwise we would ‘ave ‘ad problems. The kids sort of understand it, me youngest best of all. ‘E likes to frow a few cockney words in when ‘e’s speaking English, but I fink ‘es just showing off a bit.

And now I will close down this bit of blog stuff. Life ain’t easy when you are surrounded by a lot of foreigners all speaking their own stuff, I just ‘ad to learn it meself. No problem, but when I see me dad in England ‘e sometimes asks wot language I’m speaking. See I get a bit mixed up now and again, but you can’t blame me can you.

Weekly Challeng: A Manner of speaking