I’ve never been good at accents. Ask me to voice more than two teddies and it can quickly descend into a picnic hosted by Jim Davidson.
My knowledge of animals isn’t great either. Beyond the Farmyard and pages of ‘Dear Zoo’ it’s pretty much all guesswork.
With just two toddlers it hasn’t been a problem. When the audience includes half a dozen school kids and their teachers it does become a little more awkward.
And so, with Sonny at Nursery and after promising all week that we’d go and see T-Rex, off we ventured to the wonderful Manchester Museum.
On previous visits he was content with pointing at animals and letting me hazard a guess at what they might be. Happy days. Not any more, today he’d decided it was only polite to introduce himself and strike up a conversation.
We talked to the Dinosaurs. Obviously all Dinosaurs have a deep husky voice, interspersed with the occasional roar. I can do Dinosaurs!
The stuffed animals were a little trickier, but still I confidently voiced the Elephant and Lion.
On such good form was I that we attracted a small crowd of school kids, eager to hear about the adventures of Ellie and Leroy.
As we approached the next display cabinet we were joined by their teachers.
“Hello, what are you?”, Luca enquired.
“Shall we go and get some lunch?”, I replied with a sudden onset of stage fright.
“NO! What is your name?”
“Erm… I’m Olly ….. the Otter?” I said, desperately trying to read the display board.
Otter, Beaver, aren’t they much a muchness? (It was a Muskrat).
“Hello Mr Otter, what is your friend called?”
“He’s a ….. Yak?”
Oh, come on, seriously, how am I supposed to know what something with horns is called? (A Wildebeest, obviously).
“A Yak wouldn’t talk like that!”, suggested one of the school kids.
“How would it talk then?”
“You do it Daddy!”, Luca interjected.
I was being sold out by my own flesh and blood. I crumbled.
“Hello everyone, my name is Mr Yak, and I live ….. abroad …..”, I mumbled in a toe-curling Indian accent.
In my head it was definitely a far less offensive Welsh.
“What do you eat Mr Yak?”
It was turning into a Questions and Answers session. I was panicking. I still didn’t know what the damn creature was, let alone what it ate for lunch.
“….errr … rabbits and …. mice?”, I muttered apologetically. They were the first two things I saw. I know it was most likely herbivorous. I know that now!
“Come on kids, leave the poor gentleman alone”, was the official line.
Their faces however were clearly saying,
“Dear God, get the kids away from that racist weirdo spouting bogus facts!