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This report is taken from PN Review 165, Volume 32 Number 1, September - October 2005.

Letter from Belgrade James Sutherland-Smith

A late, but sharpish winter seems to be over in Belgrade, city of good coffee, heavy smokers and girls with gravelly voices. The maples outside the flat that we moved to in autumn were covered in a pleasant blur of pink buds a few weeks ago and the mistletoe, which infests them, sprouted a rash of lime green shoots. Now May and Golden Rain have blossomed and the tiny striped lizards, which inhabit the crevices of the walls along the street, are visible. We live at the upper end of Bulevar Mira, which has just been renamed after Alexander Karageorgevich, although the street signs have yet to be changed and the taxi drivers have yet to take any notice. At the top end of the street is one of the residences of the Serbian royal family, who are descended from the original enigmatic hero of 1804. Late last summer, I was introduced to a nephew of the present crown prince, who is a dead ringer for the last king of Yugoslavia, King Peter II. The youth, Prince George, spoke to me in perfect English in what could be described as an estuarine accent. I felt that the way I speak is now truly a minor social relic from the last century. According to a lecture recently given to the Defence School of Languages at Beaconsfield by David Crystal only 2 per cent of the British population now speaks in an RP accent.

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