Alexei began to try hard with his English as soon as he moved here. He looked words up, wrote down them and repeated them out loud. Every day there seemed to be something new. He also wanted to get to grips with the many strange British customs he kept encountering.
After a delicious evening meal at his boss’s place, her husband went into the kitchen to make the coffee. Alexei smiled to himself. He folded his napkin carefully and stood up. He walked around the dining table and out of the patio doors into the garden in as overly-camp a manner as he could muster. It was silly but felt great. Just what he needed after that big dinner. Why didn’t they do this back home? Oh, he did love it here. He could sense the others following him and pranced even more outrageously. He turned round to grin at them all.
His host and the other guests were still sitting at the table. They stared at him, puzzled. The dark-eyed woman, so pretty Alexei couldn’t look at her for long, asked if he had cramp. The boss let out one of her famous outraged donkey laughs. Then everyone was laughing. Alexei stood there in the garden, dew from the long grass seeping over his shoes and into his socks. He felt a fool.
That was over sixteen years ago but he still can’t look at a box of After Eight Mints without cringing.