For The Expatriate, A Veddy British Club Means Home

Tea And Scones Help Ease The Transition

December 11, 1991|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff writer

ELDERSBURG — Here, you have to have your driver's license renewed every four years and must carry it with you whenever you drive.

"My British license is good till I'm 72," said Susan Evans, a native of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. "Nobody carries their license with them in Britain. If you're stopped by the police, you have five days to get to the police station."

A second difference between the two countries is the way they drive: One of us drives on the wrong side of the road. The British say it's us, and we say it's them.

Another change for the British in the United States is the food. British tea, for instance, is better than American, say those from the British Isles.

Evans has found Macy's department store restaurant section to have "a very nice selectionof British foods." Another place to find real British foods is the Scottish Shop in Frederick, she added.

Rita Pearsall tells of trying to find real British fish 'n' chips in Disneyland.

"We went intothe British part, and the waiters and waitresses were all British," the native of Edinburgh, Scotland, recalled. "The waitress leaned over to me and said, 'I can tell by your accent you're British. It's notreal fish 'n' chips. Don't order it. The cook's American and has no idea how to fix it!' "

When the laughter from the women around Pearsall dies down, she said, turning serious, "I've been here (in America) 23 years, and I don't belong in Britain and I don't belong here either."

She's at home this evening, however, because she's surrounded by fellow Britons who have come together to share their heritage -- memories, treasures from home and, of course, their food.

In Evans' home, the table is set with tea and scones for the British Club,which Evans started several months ago. Ten women from England and Scotland are in attendance.

"I used to meet people on the street, and they'd hear my accent and say they were from so-and-so and maybe we should get together," said Evans.

"You don't like to do that with a stranger in your home, but if you have a group, it's different."

The club began with friends who were British. Then Evans sent notices to area newspapers and word of the club spread. Members come fromPikesville and Milford, Baltimore County, as well as from Carroll.

"It's just nice to get together and talk, and share with people whounderstand and have similar backgrounds that we have a heritage we want to keep," Evans said.

"We enjoy living here, but we're Britishand we want to pass that heritage on to our children."

Most of the women are married to American men who were sent on job assignments to Britain. Two are married to Britons whose jobs brought them to America. One woman, whose father was in the Royal Air Force and stationed at the British Embassy in Washington, met her husband here.

The women have lived in the United States from three to 28 years, and saythey have become used to American colloquialisms. But no matter how long they've been away from Britain, they still speak in the accent of the country they call home.

"When I came over here, I found I had to pretend with people because they thought the accent was cute," said Margaret Korzie of Eldersburg. "It took me a really long time to make friends."

Korzie now volunteers to speak to groups around thecounty about her native country and former home of Bellshill, Scotland. She thrills to the sound of her children calling her "Mum" ratherthan "Mom."

Group members also share ideas on places to go and things to do that make them feel at home. Together, they can be themselves -- accents, food and all.

Evans coordinates the meeting placesand dates, which change to accommodate members' schedules. Anyone from Britain is welcome.

Most meetings are held the third week of the month.

Information: 795-7259.

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