In a comment she made about an earlier entry, my Wife said:
"When people hear Graham's accent generally one of two things happen: 1) They ask if he's from Australia; 2) They ask where he's from and he deadpans... "New Jersey. Can't you tell by the accent?"
Those are definitely common reactions that people have when they hear my accent. There are others too.
My accent is both a blessing and a curse, as they say. Mostly a blessing. Occasionally a curse. In true British fashion, I'll start with the negative. I recall chasing a "sales associate" around Target trying to get him to understand what I meant when I said I wanted "batteries." Again and again I carefully said the word. Again and again he said he had no idea what I wanted. I wondered whether there was a different word that Americans used - I was sure there was not. I pronounced it carefully and slowly. Still no luck. In the end, my Wife took pity on me, and said the word "batteries" - I swear she said it exactly the same as I had done, but magically, we were shown where the batteries were kept. This kind of thing happens from time to time, and it can be frustrating.
But mostly, my accent is a good thing. It gets me noticed, and in a good way. It opens doors, and sometimes gives me an unfair advantage. For some reason, unlike many other accents, an English accent sounds very attractive to American ears. They seem to think it indicates sophistication. For the record, my accent, from my home town of Luton , is quite similar to a London accent, and to English ears is more likely to be associated with lack of education - certainly not sophisticated.
But over here, many people go to great lengths to tell me how much they love my accent, and I've heard similar things from other expat Brits I've encountered here. I've had people in stores - and before my Wife chimes in and points this out, probably pretty equally divided between women and men - cooing over my accent, telling me they could listen to me talk all day.
When I first moved over here, I often would pick up on an English accent if I heard someone in the vicinity. One of the first expats I met over here was a gentleman who has made a career out of recording talking books for the blind. Apparently, they really love their stories read with an English accent. I remember him recommending that I try doing this myself some time.
But these days, my Wife is more likely to hear a British accent than I am. I've become quite deaf to the differences between American and British accents. As for my own accent, people over here say that my accent has not changed. My Wife thinks (and I agree) that whenever I talk to family back home, which I do most Sundays, my accent gets even more pronounced. Occasionally, the folks back home think that I'm sounding more American.
As an added bonus, I thought I'd share this lovely resource with you: How to Speak in a British Accent
Things To Do In London: Friday 30 January 2015
5 hours ago