Standing innocently at a 'bus stop by the Railway Station in West Oxford the other day, I was approached by someone whom I suspected, from the way he bore himself, to be a North American. In the confident and laudably audible tones with which some visiting members of the Imperial Race tend to address us, the gentleman enquired where "M'gdall'n" street was. I probably looked nonplussed for a moment or two, because he repeated, and with even more admirable clarity, "M'gdall'n". Then the penny dropped: I expect most readers know that in Oxford and, I wouldn't be in the least surprised, Cambridge, "Magdalen" (as in S Mary Magdalen) is pronounced "Maudlin". (Even among those English not given to such arcane eccentricities, I suspect Magdalen is commonly pronounced Magd'l'n.) "Ah", I said, deferential as ever towards the Fellow Americans of the Obama, "I think you may mean Maudlin Street. Now; if you go straight down there ...".
He was having none of such nonsense. With the patient tolerance of one accustomed to handling untermenschen, he interrupted me. "No; it's definitely M'gdall'n Street. Look, guy [I loath being addressed as Guy], if you don't know, I can ask someone else". And with the consummate courtesy of a Rumsfeldt, he turned round and shimmied off.
In retrospect, I wished I'd had the ready wit simply to direct him to hurry down the Botley Road and keep going.
I'll be ready for it next time.