It was only a few months ago that I told the story of an incident at a post office in Brisbane in about 1979 in which the European man serving me was very sure, from the way I spoke, that I was from Europe, rather than from a house 300 metres down the road. This happened just after I had returned from staying in youth hostels in New Zealand, where nearly no one picked that I was from Australia.
Fast forward 35 years, and yesterday I went to a new barber about 300 m from my house. He had a European accent, and after my explanation of what was desired of the hair cut, he said "Are you from Munich?"
As with the post office incident, the following conversation went something like this:
"Um, no, I'm from Brisbane."
"Really! I could have sworn you were from Europe. The way you speak English.."
"Er, no. Born in Brisbane. Never even been to Germany."
"It just sounds like you learned English in Europe as a second language - I thought German, maybe French.."
And then I told him the post office story from 1979.
The barber, incidentally, was from Spain, and has only been living in Brisbane for a year or so, escaping the terrible economy of that country. So it certainly seems that to at least some European men, I sound very much like English is my second language.
I am not entirely sure what to make of that, but it is at least amusingly odd. I told my family that it perhaps gives me a certain air of mystery and intrigue. They aren't convinced.