I’ve blogged before about the Saint language, it was however relatively brief and didn’t touch on many of the great phrases and different ways of using language that makes up the local dialect. There is now a book called ‘Speaking Saint’ which describes the language in a much better way than I ever could, if you have any interest in the island then it is worth buying. Coming from Lincolnshire and with one half of my family from the rural fenlands I’m a big champion of dialect and local accents and thinks they are a major part of people’s culture. The same goes here and I love the way Saints speak, especially to each other. One of the standard sayings that you often here around Jamestown is “Not seen you in lonnnggg time” with a very long pronunciation of long. It is especially heard on a Saturday morning as people from over the island descend on Jamestown for a morning’s shopping. The town feels like a thriving village centre on these days, as people move up and down Main Street in the sunshine, meeting and greeting people the saying is used often. It would be unusual not to hear it said once and it will more than likey be heard a ‘nice couple’ (see previous blog but it means a lot) of times. It does raise the questions quite how long people won’t have seen each other for, on an island with 4,000 people and only 10 by 5 miles across, but that’s incidental to the point. It’s a lovely, warm greeting and it makes up part of my Saturday mornings as I do a bit of shopping and head down to the wharf for a coffee.
Now, this all leads me on to feeling like Saint Helena is now home. I’ve been here two years now and have extended the contract for another 18 months until March 2017. A lot of people come and go from the island, either on short term limited contracts or because they can’t settle in such a small, remote place. Local Saints will watch them come and go, often with a slight state of detachment to see how the new arrivals will fit in. Once you’ve been on your mid term break and more importantly returned to the island, people start treating you more as part of the community, they see that you’re staying for a while and the warmness starts shining through. However, it took until this week, two years after arriving before I got my first ever ‘not see you in lonnggg time’, in fact I’ve had three times now this week. Which maybe begs the question whether I have been hiding for the past few weeks, but it genuninely warmed me, I started to feel that I am really part of the community and perhaps for the first time, now I feel like I’m home.