|Hard At Work, Picture by Jo Crawford of theonlyplaceblog.blogspot.co.uk|
|Hard At Work, Picture by Jo Crawford of theonlyplaceblog.blogspot.co.uk|
|I am soooo confused…|
Following my last post, I keep being asked whether I think in English or in French.
Guys, I wish it were that simple…This morning for instance, a guy asked me on the street whether he knew me from somewhere. Obviously he didn’t. He probably just thought that he was funny. Well, I hadn’t had my morning coffee, and didn’t fully appreciate his sense of humour. The very first thought that came to my mind was, I am proud to say, in English. If you must know, it was: “F**$k off!”. Me being me, I simply answered ‘No you don’t’. I told you I was British. So there you go: I think in English. But does it mean that English has become my main language ? Well, I am not so sure.
|Me: French Or English? About To Go Out…|
Today, I had an epiphany: I am not the same person in French and in English. Come to think of it, it is really weird, right? But it is true: for instance, I am stricter in French. When I tell my daughters off, it is always in French. I wonder why. Apparently, I am scarier in French. As in, really scary.
That said, I write almost exclusively in English. Somehow it is easier for me, because in French I tend to rewrite the same sentence over and over again. In English, I can go straight to the point, and I like it. And, if I am completely honest, I feel less judged in English. Maybe I have had too many bad grades for my essays in France. However, I still count in French. This is probably because I don’t do the imperial measures. Never have. Never will. The only thing I can’t say in French is my mobile phone number. I know it by heart, but in English. Life is complicated, right?
How did it all happen? I have no idea. Maybe it is because I act according to different cultural norms depending on which language I speak. Sometimes, I get it wrong. For instance, the British keep saying ‘Great’ at every possible opportunity. When I start saying ‘Super’ all the time in French, I get funny glances. Go figure. I was just trying to be positive.
I sometimes feel sorry for myself in French, but pick up the pieces and move on in English. That’s just the way it is. I think that I am suffering from a severe case of split personality.
But there is one thing that doesn’t change, and never will: in French or in English, I love listening to music and singing along as if my life depended on it. It drives everybody around me absolutely mad. And I sometimes add a little dance routine to up the ante. In French and in English, I am hugely embarrassing.
NB: I wrote about bringing up bilingual children in London, please go to Knightsbridge Village if you are a member.
Just a very quick post to let you know that I was very pleasantly surprised to see that I am featured in The Guardian booth.
|Big Ben: Relax, You Are In London|
I tried so hard to make it work. I really did. And no, I am not talking about the good old cliches here -don’t get me wrong, most of them are true-. No, there is something deeper going on here. After ten years in London, I have come to the conclusion that the British and the French are so similar that they can’t help but hate each other. Any differences between them will appear to be magnified because of this close cultural proximity, and all hell will break loose eventually. It is only a matter of time, and that’s just the way it is. We have to accept it, and get on with things. Such is life.
Take the British sense of humour for instance: it took me a while to get it, and I must admit that I sometimes still don’t, but the British can laugh at their own expenses, even in a working environment. This would be impossible in France. It would be interpreted as a sign of weakness. No, in France, you need to be serious. And if you must joke, it has to be at somebody else’s expense.
And it doesn’t stop here. Let’s talk about the Anglo-Saxon puritanism for a minute. If, like me, you have spent some time in the Corporate world you will know that office affairs are a common occurrence. Come on, just open your eyes! That said, in France, it is something to boast about. Simply put, a good old-fashioned French boss is not really a French boss if he hasn’t slept with a few of his employees. I have lost count of the number of advances I got in France. This side of the Channel, they have affairs too, but they don’t talk about it. It is all a bit hush hush until the boss finally tells you over some drinks about his divorce settlement. He will also inform everybody that he moved in with a younger version of his ex-wife. Come to think of it, I have also lost count of the number of advances I had over here. Some things never change. Who said the British were stuck up?
One of the most difficult aspects about this bicultural working relationship is the language. My English was always corrected, no matter what. Verbally and in writing. My notes were rewritten because they were not in ‘Oxbridge’ English, and I had to eventually develop a lexicon of all the magic words and expressions that my colleagues were so fond of (such as: ‘the crux of the matter’ or ‘the different stakeholders’ -if it makes them happy, it can’t be that bad, right?). I was thinking of selling it at some point. To make matters even worse, some of my colleagues were also convinced that they were speaking better French than me, and were correcting my French as well. That said, the treatment of British expats who dare to work in France isn’t any better: their pronunciation is always corrected (because a pull -jumper- is not a poule -chick-, right?) and, believe it or not, there is a French way to write a note in English, and they simply don’t get it. I told you, it can’t work between us.
Where does this leave us? Well, I don’t know, but let’s just say that I am not surprised by the long and rocky relationship between Britain and Europe. Because both parties are very proud and of course convinced to be right. As for me, well, I suppose that I have to suck it up. I think that I am lost somewhere in the middle of the Channel. It is a funny place to be in, but not always a comfortable one.
|How Do You Like My Collage?|
Talk is cheap, right? This side of the Channel, everybody talks. They do it all the time. They call it counselling sometimes: before fitting braces to my daughter, we had to listen to a lengthy presentation made by the orthodontist. To make sure we had got the point, we even had to endure it twice. We almost fell asleep. Complete and utter nightmare.
|Brad says Hi!|
|Turner, Self Portrait|
|Nympheas, Claude Monet|
|Wreckers Coast Of Northumberland, Turner|
|Shipping O The Maas, Aelbert Cuyp|
|My Home-Painted Blue nails|
There is something going on right under my nose. It is happening in London here and now. And I am not sure that I like it. Once again, I didn’t see it coming. I went to the bank this morning to meet my new account manager. I looked at his impeccable stripy suit. Very nice. And so British. Then, somehow, I started looking at his hands.
The guy had had his nails professionally manicured!
I couldn’t believe it: his nails were better looking than mine. They had a thin layer of clear nail polish. Seriously, when did men start getting professional manicures? I barely have time to get one when I need to go out. Not to mention the fact that it never dries properly, because I simply don’t have the patience. I spent the whole appointment looking at his hands, completely mesmerised. I almost asked him where his nail salon was. And then it dawned on me: Great Britain is suffering from an inexorable rise of the metrosexual. They look perfect. Some even do have Botox to remove any unwanted wrinkles on their foreheads. They moisturise, they exercise, they are clean-shaven and smell nice. They are, well, high maintenance. Probably more high-maintenance than me. What is going on over here?
Don’t get me wrong, most French men are high maintenance too. I can’t have a shower in the morning because my husband is using the bathroom for the best part of an hour. I have to shower in the evening. Much easier. Married life is all about compromise, right?
|Stephane Chabal – That’s a real man!|
That said, the French metrosexual is more about shabby chic look. The trend started a long time ago, probably before it became so big in London. The French metrosexual looks like he has just woken up when it takes him three hours every day to take care of himself. Come to think of it, I even had an ex who was so metrosexual that he was stealing my clay mask. But I digress, it was just to give an example. And he dumped me for some random blonde anyway. The metrosexual can be a player. Beware.
I came back from my appointment quite angry because, once again, I wasn’t given any clear responses. I will have to go back. I don’t know if this low-carb diet is playing up with my mood, but I started to wonder where the real men were hiding. Any clue?
Seriously, enough of the pretty boys! Give me a real guy or, even better, a sweaty rugbyman any time. I simply have had enough of the manicured men with faked smiles, whitened teeth and no spine. Just be straight with me (and the muddy short pants will be a bonus).
Where did all the testosterone go? Does the London air somehow dilute it? I sometimes really wonder.
Maybe I am just a bit upset. Maybe I am more a Hugh Jackman than a Jude Law sort of girl and that’s just me. But here it is. Call me sexist if you want to: men need to be men.