You probably don’t know what they are. Well, simply put, they are part of your survival kit if you want to be taken seriously in this country.
It is all about appearing to be making sense when you are, in fact, talking non-sense. Don’t underestimate such a vital skill. Even Shakespeare used oxymorons. If you want to go with the flow, you will have to learn.
When I moved to this country (Ah. Memories!), here is the sort of things that I would have said:
– Where are the children? It is very quiet in here;
– I don’t speak English very well;
– The proposal was rejected;
– She is divorced but doesn’t want anyone to know;
– I went to the concert on my own;
– I disagree;
Fatal mistakes. Everybody was noticing that I hadn’t been brought up in Britain. Here is what I should have said:
– Where are the kids? What is this deafening silence?
– I am an advanced beginner in English;
– The proposal was rejected in its entirety but it proved to be a successful failure;
– Her divorce is an open secret;
– I was alone in the crowd at the concert;
– Let’s agree to disagree;
– It is as clear as mud.
As you may guess, it was, and still is, a steep learning curve. I am not sure that I will get there eventually. This is because my brain is wired in a different way. A long time ago, I decided to always be brutally honest with myself, even if it was tough and meant that I had to deal with some not-so-nice home truths.
I have to learn to think and speak in a different way. It is hard work. It is all about being positive and wanting to make an impression. But guess what: an unexpected side effect is that I am happier here. I have more fun.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London