Rude awakening to a new month

PUBLISHED: 13:13 07 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:48 06 May 2010

ON TURNING up at work the other day I was cheerfully assaulted by a colleague. Before I had the chance to grab a stapler and defend myself I was pinched, punched and had some mumbled words thrown in my general direction. The worst thing was that my attack

ON TURNING up at work the other day I was cheerfully assaulted by a colleague.

Before I had the chance to grab a stapler and defend myself I was pinched, punched and had some mumbled words thrown in my general direction. The worst thing was that my attacker was smiling.

Apparently it was all part of welcoming in the new month, she told me.

God knows how she celebrates a pay rise.

Ok, so it wasn't necessary for me to be rushed off to intensive care, nor did I feel the need to press charges, but boy did it catch me by surprise.

When I want to celebrate something I smile, will often say a few nice words and, when feeling really chipper, can even go as far as patting the recipient on the back. Hardly a pinch or a punch I must say.

All of this was completely alien to me.

But that is the thing. I'm a northern boy by birth and have been living here for little over 18 months. There are still things which catch me out and amuse me.

For example, I always emit a chuckle when I see road signs saying The North, as though it is one large town somewhere north of Arlesey.

But life here is nice. Very pleasant, indeed.

Crime is low and prices aren't too bad unless you want to buy something.

I can sit at home twiddling my thumbs on a Sunday afternoon and look out from my house - a bit like one of those Appalachian hicks in Deliverance - and not see anybody for hours.

This is quite contrary to where I grew up where once a fortnight we would awaken to find a half-naked stranger fast asleep in our garden after a night out on the tiles.

I don't want to start criticising life in Lancashire, so I won't. And I will correct a few stereotypes - the houses are made out of bricks and mortar and do have indoor toilets. Well, most do.

Life in Lancashire was great. But meeting an Arlesey-born girlfriend I decided that moving down south would be the best option and, so far, things seem to be going pretty well.

For a start, people can almost understand me when I speak.

This wasn't always the case. I remember meeting my girlfriend's mother for the very first time. I was in a restaurant with her, my girlfriend and girlfriend's sister.

They both went to the little girls' room and I was left to keep their mother entertained for the next few minutes which I happily did.

I was reliably informed a few months later that she wasn't able to understand a single word I had said and was only laughing and smiling to keep me entertained.

However, now it seems the tables have turned. I had some nephews and nieces visit the other day, with their parents in tow, and the thing is I found them difficult to understand.

I felt bad having to continually ask them to repeat themselves, which they did. Much to their irritation, no doubt. I am sure they had difficulty understanding my lingo also. I have witnessed that kind of laughing and smiling some place before.

Feeling awkward it dawned on me that although my roots belonged to Lanc-ashire, I now belonged to Hertfordshire. I do have family and friends visit every now and then but I am settled and getting used to things down here.

I may run back 'oop north' one day. Actually, I will have to when the water supplies run out completely down here.

Until then I'll accept the changes and adapt. Which reminds me, I've got until October 1 to find myself a self-defence instructor.

* John Adams is on holiday

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