Julie Andrews and cast in My Fair Lady the Musical. Picture courtesy Wikipedia
From where I am from we have a very old bad joke. Like a lot of people from my land were to work on the French vineyards in the past. Well, almost in present too… When they came back people asked to them what they had seen. Somebody one day answered: “Do you know French kids are very clever? Since they are very young they already know how to speak French.” That was the bad joke.
However, this cliché about the French kids are clever because they talk in French has stayed in my society. It keeps staying and it is also extended to English kids. So, fellow English readers: “Congratulations! You are very clever!”
And you know? All this things happen because you speak weird. Let’s see: if a “sofa” is the same piece of furniture in Spanish than in English why do you must call “chair” to the “silla” and “armchair” to the “sillon”? Or if a “banana” is the same fruit in both languages why the “apples” are not “manzanas” or the “oranges” are “naranjas”? See, the patron…? You, English people, have changed all the words. And for this reason you have the fault that Spanish people have not easy to learn the language of Shakespeare. Nitwit!
Can you imagine what have could happen if Phillip II of Spain had reclaimed the British islands and he had governed them? Horror! Inquisition! Aaaaahhhhh! It think I am having a panic attack just thinking about it… Ewwww!
However, do not worry. Despite that most Spanish people still hating YOU because the Brits destroyed our Spanish Armada. I am an exception and I love you folks. I love the Queen, she looks so lovely and cute. Her mother Elisabeth was even cuter and I love this strange sense of humor that you have. Who, if not a Brit, will design full crockery sets with the face of Charles and Camilla on the bottom? Do not tell me, dear, it is not ideal. You are eating your soup, or enjoying your tea, and when you are leaving that the last drops of that pleasant meal delight your mouth. You find that “pretty” royal faces looking at you. As Scottish say: “Lovely”
Seriously, like I love to create movies. I am going to create a scene right now based in how a British person acts. Downtown Abbey style. And like it is only in my head I am going to cast the best English cast.
SCENE – EXT. BRITISH MANOR GARDENS. AFTERNOON
In a well dressed table full of dishes, light meals and treats. DAME MAGGIE SMITH and DAME JUDY DENCH are enjoying the tea time. From inside the house comes DAME HELEN MIRREN. She joins to the conversation meanwhile she serves to herself some nibbles.
DAME HELEN MIRREN
Good afternoon, ladies. May I join to your lovely party.
DAME MAGGIE SMITH
Of course, dear.
After this classic British small talk and a long period of silence Dame Maggie Smith decides to open the conversation.
DAME MAGGIE SMITH
Helen, dear. Would you like to join the conversation that Judy and I was having? If Judy doesn’t have any problem, of course.
DAME JUDY DENCH
Of course, I don’t have. We can keep talking and deciding who is going to win this year.
Another long silence. Some sips of tea here and there but not more talk. Finally Dame Hellen Mirren decides to talk.
DAME HELLEN MIRREN
Who is going to win what? If you do not mind that I ask…
DAME JUDY DENCH
Not at all, darling. All the years Maggie and I create our own personal awards.
DAME MAGGIE SMITH
(Making a sign to Helen to approach closer)
Yes, dear. This is a secret but all the years Judy and I decide who is the best British actor of the year.
DAME JUDY DENCH
And we don’t let newspapers or other awards influence us in our decision.
DAME HELEN MIRREN
I see… And do you only decide who is the best actor?
DAME MAGGIE SMITH
We’ve tried several years to decide who is the best actress too…
DAME HELEN MIRREN
DAME JUDY DENCH
However, darling, Maggie and I had the tendency of to always finish our best female acting debates in a tie. So, since some years ago we have called another actress to join our Tea Awards.
Long silence. The Dames enjoy some nibbles and they drink more tea.
DAME HELEN MIRREN
My apologize, but why aren’t we deciding who is the best one?
Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judy Dench look at each other quite concerned and after, they look to Dame Helen Mirren with a lovely smile.
DAME MAGGIE SMITH
Dear, we still waiting the third actress who will help us to decide.
More silence and more tea. Then, MERYL STREEP shows up and joins the Tea Party.
My apologize, ladies. I’ve been entertained by our nominees inside.
DAME MAGGIE SMITH
Do not worry, dear. It is completely fine.
DAME HELEN MIRREN
Now, I understand why there is no more Best Acting Female Tea Awards.
The four ladies look between them with complicity. All of them show their most lovely naughty smile.
SCENE – INT. BRITISH MANOR ROOM. AFTERNOON.
This year nominees are waiting next to the drinks cabinet. All of them seem very nervous. Some of them have served some Scotch and are drinking. Others are smoking. There is a lot of tension in the ambient.
Can anybody explain me what are we doing here?
Not sure. Gary, please, can you remember me why do we come here year after year?
Not sure neither, but the liquor isn’t bad.
GARY OLDMAN is serving some drinks to the new ones BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH and EDDIE REDMAYNE. Benedict grabs his drink with a firmly cold pulse, Khan style, but Eddie is very nervous and when he takes his drink, he drips a bit of it.
Oh, so sorry. I didn’t…
Sorry, I’m getting old…
No, no. It was my fault.
No. The fault was mine.
I insist. It was my fault. Please, accept my apologize.
I don’t have to accept your apologize for something that you haven’t done.
ALAN RICKMAN approaches to Eddie. Alan touches Eddie’s shoulder as a symbol of acceptance.
Don’t worry. We, all, get nervous in our first Tea Awards Nomination. Dan almost did the real magic trick of disappear the first year that the Dames invited him. Isn’t it Dan?
(Looking to the infinite)
Is in this moments when you really ask yourself why after all this years in Hogwarts I haven’t really learnt the most important spells…
How long is it going to be this time?
With the ladies nobody knows it for sure… And don’t spy. They will call us as they use to do.
Are you going to continue with your instructing tone, Rickman?
Benedict leaves his drink on a near table. He grabs a cloth from the drink cabinet and he kneels down to clean the wet floor. Eddie acts in response. He kneels down to clean the mess too. He tries to grab the same cloth that Benedict is holding. There are no more cloths inside the room.
Let me do it. After all it was my fault.
I’ll do it.
No, I’ll do it.
Benedict looks with his deep psycho face to Eddie who seems a bit confuse by the reaction. Gary, watching the expression, kneels down too to clean the mess and to try to relax the situation. He taps Benedict’s back. Benedict turns back towards Gary with the same cold sight.
I can do it too.
I said: “I’ll do it”
Sorry, but none of you two have to do it! It was my fault!
Sorry, son. But I have already told you it was my fault!
No! It was mine!
I SAID IT WAS MINE!
A huge silence invades the room. Nobody dares to reply to Gary, the angry man.
NOW! GIVE ME THAT F* CLOTH AND LET ME CLEAN IT!
(Cold and calm)
No. I’ll do it.
Because I’m better… In everything…
Suddenly, a call to Sean Bean’s phone interrupts the tense scene. Sean doubts between to pick the phone or not. Finally he does it.
(on the phone)
I don’t know who you are but I will find you and I will kill you.
Try it. I’m a professional dead man.
A bullet cross the window and it kills Sean Bean in a new weird style which the audience have not seen before. Alan Rickman and Daniel Radcliffe magically disappear. Gary, Benedict and Eddie look one to each other confused and nervous.
All the years the same… He dies. The wizards and superheroes disappear and Gary has to clean everything!
Gary nods his head in a repeatedly affirmation gesture with tones of huge desperation. The three men have forgotten about the spilled drink and they are now standing up looking at each other. The new ones are surprised and confused.
And who wins the Tea Awards?
Meryl Streep! Or don’t you already know that she always wins all the awards?
Benedict and Eddie look at each other very confused. Gary, exhausted, sits on the sofa. He is sad, about to cry, because he has seen how Sean Bean has died so many times.
FADE TO BLACK:
Now that I have fulfilled my dream cast in a silly scene let’s be serious. Do not deny me that “dear” and “sorry” are always in the vocabulary of Brits. Is it me the only one who find it cute and adorable?
Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Picture courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures.
No offense americans but I lived in the West Coast of your country for a while and you speak even weird than the Brits. You even change more words and people from South… Brrrr…! “Ain’t get half wha’chu sayin’?” but I am glad because I know that I am not the only one in this universe with that compression problem.
Probably most of you, dear english speakers, have never experienced the respect that your language causes to other cultures. I say you have not experienced because you have been born talking english so to you it is normal. However, to the rest of the world it is not.
We learn the language of Shakespeare because we must, but most of the times we also learn it with fear. We are scared to say things wrong or that you will not understand us. I am not sure were this fear comes from but it happens a lot. I have seen it a bunch of times. Now please, non english-born people, tell me and raise your hands. How many of you have apologized, like thousands of times, because you are not sure if you are communicating right in english? How many of you still being unsure about how to write certain things or how to pronounce them? To all of you: “welcome to the club” but I am going to confess you a secret; most english-born people have the same problem than us.
Let me tell you a personal story. When I was just a kid I had the capacity of to be hours quiet and silent in a same spot. No, I did not had any development problems. My family just told me: ”Stay here and don’t make noise” and I did. My record is 3h 50min without move of a chair and don’t say nothing. At that point. I asked permission to move. That’s me: the weird.
I grew up sharing room with my aunt who was in her early twenties but she was like an angry teenager in her fifteens. Everybody knows how annoying is a teen… If you did not give me the order of to be quiet and silent I did not. Let’s say that I was extremely good following orders… She did not say that order to me because I was creepy. In other hand, I did not stopped to ask things and being curious. Fact, which is extremely frustrating for a teen. So why did she in that times? She put me the headphones of her walkman and she always played the same cassette: a basic english learning method. I was only three years old.
The good side of this story is that I started to learn another language very soon. The not so good side is that she never bought the cassettes which continued the learning method. So I was stuck in my language learning process for several years.
Then, you arrive to school and you are a genius. English, my favorite subject, always A+… So, yes folks, put your babies to listen language tapes. It works.
Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Picture courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures.
Maybe this is the main reason that I feel more comfortable writing and speaking in english than in my mother language. I do not know. I am a real weird case.
Imagine, if I am weird that since very young age people from my country is always asking me from which country am I or if I speak Spanish.
Once, in Los Angeles, two latinos (Mexican to be exact) started to had fun with me in Spanish saying one to each other: “Qué te parece la gringa? Viene acá tratando de platicar el español, será bicha!” (TRANSLATION: “What do you think of the dirty foreinger? Come here trying to speak Spanish, bitch!) And you listening their pathetic “español” understanding perfectly how “huevones” they are.
I am not kidding when I say that I have had to show my ID or passport several times in my live to confirm to people that I am from Spain. And, before you ask: “No, I don’t dance flamenco”. Neither I speak like Penelope Cruz. I have my own accent. It’s a special brand. One day, in the British Museum an anthropologist who worked there tried to classify me without I said a word from where I was. He said some strange place in Welsh… Not sure about that.
The case is my accent it is quite funny, undeterminable, but funny. When I was living with my roommate from Alabama she introduced me a woman with the most amazing facelift job. Seriously, we went out to clubs and I thought she was thirtish early forties. When we was back at home my roommate confessed me that she was the step-daughter of a famous Beverly Hill beauty guru and she was, in fact, 54 years old. My eyes kept open as dishes for long, so long… Anyway, when my roomie introduced me to her, the first that she told me it was: “Oh, “Roomie” told me that you were from Spain and you had a bit of funny accent but it’s not the one I expected”. Surprise! Be ready to the unexpected…
Although, I am not perfect. I make tons of english mistakes and I have problems with pronunciation. Some of your words are like tongue-twisters to me. I have problems with the R, C and Z, X if it is in between letters, almost all the verbs in past and the U and A but when they do not sound like U or A. Are you really aware that they are only five vocals and you pronounce them like if they are fifty? That is the reason you have problems with the spelling!
If you cannot understand ones between the others! Have you ever heard a guy from the muddy deep Louisiana? They make so many talking short cuts that it is already impossible to try to dub them to other languages. Checked! The dubbed voice could keep playing meanwhile the Southern folks has already finished half an hour early.
Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. Picture courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures.
Once, I had a real British professor. We, the college folks and I, were extremely scared that nobody will understands us. Do you know what she confessed to us? That her lovely mother which was born in the British Island could not watch American movies without subtitles because most of the times she did not understand what the Americans were saying on the movie. That gave me hope, but my english baptism and new faith came a bit later. In the same class, half of the folks had studied in English schools. When it arrived the english exam, they were extremely scared of to answer basic english questions like:
Fill with the right verb (HAVE, HAS, AM, IS, ARE):
You ______ beautiful.
_______ you done your homework yet?
I _______ writing this as an example.
Where ______ he been? (I know it sounds weird)
_____ it raining?
So, imagine if the insecurity that aliens have to your language is huge that even having they studied in english schools and talking this language ALWAYS, they have fear to speak your language and to answer this simple questions? What is it going on?
Furthermore, how people who has been studying in British schools since 6-7 years old until 18 years old can say that they have forgotten how to talk and to answer this questions? Is like to ride in bike: you never forget that! And I am the hillbilly… Nice!
Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady the Musical. Picture courtesy Wikipedia
The case is, that in all this years, the people who has told me that my english is awful, horrible and depressing were not people who has been born talking english. I mean, the people who has said terrible bad things about my english are Spanish (for excellence), Indians, Germans, Mexicans and Brazilians. With the “honoris causa” exception of an Alabama woman who doesn’t know that “violate” exists in her dictionary and it means “rape” (After one hour of discussion and making me doubting about it) and an Australian woman who did not know that “reflexion” (“Reflection” for Yanks) also exist in the dictionary and it means “think deeply”.
Do you want to know the most shocking thing of all? That english people is very polite and when they see me they do not put in doubt my English if I do not say my nationality. They put in doubt my Spanish. Spanish people (Mexicans included) put in doubt my English and also my Spanish because they say I am pedantic. English folks use to tell me that I am quirky. Oh dear, after all this english confusion I am exhausted…
However, it seems the main problem of my english incompetence it is that I do not have any academic title which can prove that I speak english or I can write it. Yes, folks, you are hallucinating: all the texts that you have read until now, including this one are not written in english because I do not have an English Academic title. So I am going to say that they are written in Ambrosian and it is ME the only one authorized to give that Academic titles…
I remember a conversation with an old folk whom I do not met anymore because she has so many crushes with fictional characters and actors. That is also exhausting.
The conversation was after she had an english exam in one of this official schools in which they give this kind of titles. She told me that the Conversation Exam was extremely difficult because they have chosen hard matters. The first text to read and to comment was about “bəgs”. To what I answered very impressed: “Wow! And what have you talked about beetles, ants…?” Her answer: “No idiot! ‘Bəgs’ that things with pages which are for read.” “You mean ‘bo͝oks’” I replied. And then she said: “And what I have said?”
She told me the next text was about ‘tʃɒpin’. I was dubitative because she had expended almost half an hour before this to tell me how dramatic and hard it was the exam. So I tried to guess a hard conversation matter and I bet for ‘ˈSHōˌpan’. Unfortunately, I guessed wrong and after another lovely word like: “bitch” she explained to me the theme of the text: ‘ˈSHäpiNG’. Definitely, Mr English it is not my pal.
However, the worst it is not the discrimination because you do not have a title. The worst is that in some Yank places they do not even want to rent you a place only because they have read your surname. It is the most absurd since when I was 14 years old and I went to Florida with my parents. The guy who was written us the Disney passes asked me if we were family of Jennifer Lopez. Sure! Why not? Later, when I came back to school nobody believed that I was in Miami and Orlando two weeks and I had simply invented everything. Ignorance, again. She is the best friend of a bunch of folks in this planet.
In resume, do not ask me for my English anymore. I know it is pitiful and I should feel very ashamed of it. Since now, I will communicate with the rest of the world in Ambrosian and if you do not understand me it will be your problem, not mine. I am also aware that I am going to keep suffering of discrimination the rest of my life, simply for my surname. And that if I pretend to rent a place I should not say my nationality at least the landlord ask for it. Non-Compressible but true, if I do not say nothing after they have seen my face my surname or nationality does not matter. Same happens with job search. Ai, ai, ai Alejandro G. Iñárritu you do not have idea of how much I understand you…
I do not know… Maybe one day my nuts get loose and I will become an UK citizen. On there, everybody treats me kindly. They are so polite… I have only found a woman who was a bit dry and harsh with me when I said to her where I was from. It seemed she had something against the people from my country who went to her place to try to get a job. However, she relaxed her tone after explain to her my tourist intentions and after she saw me feeding my beau Dan the Swan. Everything can be resolved with a good communication: in English or not, verbal or not. On there, it resides the pure magic.
So folks, do not be ashamed of your english because I can swear that most of the times British cannot understand Americans, Americans cannot understand British and nobody can understand Scottish, with the exception of the Scottish, of course.
Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Picture courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures
Everybody makes spelling and typing mistakes in their own mother languages so do not be afraid to do it in other ones but always be polite. To me, for example, it does not matter how bad written is the message that somebody will send me always that this person use nice words. One rude word and my claws I will show.
Be polite and do not worry so much about the spell. Most of the times, it is far better to be excessively polite and to create a comedy situation like the one in my short scene than to speak perfectly well. By the way, thank you very much to the amazing cast who made the scene true in my head. You are ALL of you a bunch of very talented and inspiring folks. Including the Iron Lady, Meryl Streep. Next time, I will try to book you in real. Dream seriously, speak nice and let others enjoy the fun. Good luck.
NOTE: Despite in the film My Fair Lady is Audrey Hepburn who plays the role. She was dubbed by another singer. So I think it is good to also remember Julie Andrews who also played the same character on the stage musical. For this reason, the mix of the pictures.