When we moved from London, one of the first things I noticed about our new home town was the lack of diversity. Perhaps “lack” is too strong a word, but having previously been based in East London, as a white family we were probably in the minority, and I had grown used to our neighbourhood being a mish-mash of different cultures, languages and beliefs.
So I have to admit, slightly patronisingly, being a little bit too excited when I met a lady at the library children’s song time who looked perhaps Iranian or from somewhere in the Middle East. Our children started playing together so we started talking. She had grown up in the UK and had no hint of an accent. And what happened next was entirely my fault. In my defence there was a lot of background noise.
Me: So, your little girl – she’s lovely, how old is she?
Lovely lady: Just turned two.
Me: Ahh. What’s her name?
Lovely lady: *says something unpronounceable*
Me: Sorry, I didn’t catch that.
Lovely lady: Thallithuthan
Me: Oh how unusual. Lovely. Tally-thuthan, did you say? (Me, being smug trying to pronounce this interesting ethnic name.)
Lovely lady: Thallithuthan.
Me: I’m really sorry, you’re going to have to spell that for me.
Lovely lady with a lisp: S-A-L-L-Y S-U-S-A-N
I am an idiot. This is why I can’t go to baby groups. I should be kept indoors. Ideally with cake.