Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

Right, it’s this time of the year: back to school and back to work. But here is a today’s treat: the latest chapter of Carine & Archie’s story. In this case, it’s more about Carine’s struggle to fit in…I hope that you can relate!

And in case you have missed it, here us the latest chapter: http://frenchyummymummy.com/a-cross-channel-romance-chapter-8/

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Chapter 9 – My New British Boss

Speaking English

 

To apply for UK citizenship or permanent residency, which TWO things do you need:

A A UK bank account

B An ability to read and speak English

C An ability to speak and write Oxbridge English

D A good understanding of life in the UK

E An Oyster card

F A driving licence

E An above-average ability to drink beer without getting too drunk.

 

Official responses are B and D. Dont be fooled, C and E are life savers in the UK.

 

Life in the United Kingdom, (almost) official Practice Questions

 

 

February 2012

 

I arrive late at work to find out that we have a new boss. His name is James. He looks serious, and very British too. I can’t help noticing that he is wearing stripes. The stripes are definitively back this year. He introduces himself to everyone, and I like the fact that he doesn’t gather us for a pep talk on his first day.

 

That said, my good mood quickly fades away when one of my notes on the governance of one of our major projects comes back to me by email with the following words.

“ I don’t understand. Please write in proper English’

Regards,

 

James”

 

Perplexed, I have a look at my note and can’t spot any grammatical mistakes. I can’t see any typos either. I read the note several times without understanding what is wrong with it. Come on, I don’t want to sing my own praises but it is actually quite good! I don’t get it and feel stuck. What is wrong with this guy?

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Posted by / Category London /

 

 

The beauty of writing a blog is that it can lead to all sort of different experiences. You might wonder what I did. Well, here it is: I shot a commercial for Kleenex. How to you like it?

As for me, I love it. Here is what I wrote the day we shot it…tell me what you think!

Shocking news: I was selected for shooting a commercial for Kleenex. It came completely out of the blue: the production company found me through this blog, called me and then invited me for a filmed interview. They were looking for a French woman in London, and somehow chose me, despite the fact that there are tons of French women in London. I will never understand what they saw in me. What the heck, I thought. It was going to be a new experience: it would be fun and exciting, and at the ripe age of 42 I couldn’t help being proud of myself. I decided to go for it.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

And here is the 7th chapter. Thank you for all your words of encouragement, I am so glad that you like this story -or that, in some cases, that it made you react! In case you have missed it, the latest chapter is here.
 
Happy New Year!
Values & Responsibilities
 
Which values and responsibilities should you have as a UK citizen or Permanent Resident (more than one response allowed)?
A To have lots of noisy house parties
B To stare at women’s cleavages at every possible opportunity
C To treat everyone equally
D To drink booze
I wonder if you can choose all four.
 
Life in the United Kingdom, (almost) official Practice Questions
 
 31/12/2011
Everybody at the office enjoyed the food. Archie seems to like his new job and has invited friends and new colleagues at home for a New Year Eve’s party. I love cooking and I thought that it would be nice to present a united front with Archie. After all, new year, new start, right? Onwards and upwards, as they say over here.
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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

In case you have missed it, you can read the last chapter here

Back To London

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Boxing Day

Bank holidays and public holidays are not the same thing. Christmas Day, the 25th of December, is a public holiday because it is a religious festival. Nobody knows whether Boxing Day should be a public holiday or a bank holiday. Dont count on the official books to enlighten you.

p93, Official study guide Boxing day on 26 December is a public holiday

p179 Official Practice Questions and Answers Boxing Day is the day after Christmas day and is a bank holiday

Nobody really understands the difference between the two but the common consensus is that you dont have to go to work on either a Bank holiday or a public holiday, which, after all, is what matters. That said, be careful not to get it wrong on the day of the test.

Life In the United Kingdom, (Almost) Official Study Guide

 

I wake up and start getting ready for another day of work. Steven half sits on the bed and mumbles, half-asleep:

“-What is going on?”

“-Well, it is Monday, I am going to work!”

“-Darling, you don’t need to, it is Boxing day!”

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Posted by / Category French food, London, Stereotypes /

It is impossible to talk about the French without mentioning food. To cut a long story short, there are two things we French are supposed to be good at: sex and food. When I mention that I am French (which everybody knows by now anyway), we usually start talking about food. Why food first? Well, because the British don’t like talking about sex when sober. It usually comes after a few pints. But I digress. I could write the script of the conversation in advance: my interlocutors start mentioning the restaurants they have been to lately, and try to get my approval. They want me to admire their exquisite tastes. Alternatively, they list the bottles of wine they have recently bought at an auction, and want me to say that they managed to get a fantastic deal. Most of the time, I don’t know the restaurants they are talking about, and I would never buy super-expensive bottles of wine, because I simply don’t see the point. Most of my British friends have a wine cave in their house. To cut a long story short, we don’t. Nor to we have a sex dungeon, for the record.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London, Politics /

Back by popular demand, here is the latest chapter of Carine & Archie’s story. You can read the last chapter here.

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I need to prepare my citizenship test.

The UK did not join the European Economic Community (EEC) until 1973. Still today, it is a sore subject. You will not read anything else about the EEC in this guide. No questions on this subject will be asked during the Life in the United Kingdom Test anyway. There is absolutely no need whatsoever to revise this paragraph.

Life In the United Kingdom, (Almost) Official Study Guide

 

Christmas 2011

 

With a heavy heart I manage to get Alexandra and myself to France, in the small city where I come from near Nice. There is a direct British Airways flight, which helps. There is even a quirky Anglican church there, I don’t know why. My ankle feels a lot better. I think that I overreacted a bit. I must be tired. All I needed was a few good nights sleep.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

If you have enjoyed Carine and Archie’s story, here is the next chapter…You can read chapter 3 here.

 

Stiff Upper Lip – December 2011

 

Life with Archie back at home is easier than I thought. I still get the odd moment of panic: yesterday my closet padlock was open and I thought that I had locked it. I was suspicious all day. Has Archie found what the code was? Did I forget to lock it? Has Graeme broken into the house? I will probably never know. I need to chill out a bit.

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Posted by / Category London /

Don’t forget to read chapter 1 here and chapter 2 here…Tell me what you think!

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Christmas Parties- December 2012

 

It’s been two months of leaving on my own. I feel divorced without even being married. Christmas party season is now in full swing and every time I reach for a dress in my closet I am wondering whether Graeme has tried it on. Not nice. I am trying to come to terms with what has happened. This means that Archie is still living in a hotel, and I don’t know what the hell to do. I haven’t figured it out yet. Of course, he tried to explain that this is a cultural difference as he went to a very posh boarding school with no girIs. He assured me that the whole incident is nothing to worry about. Graeme has always loved to cross dress, according to Archie. I am still not convinced. This is not a situation I have heard about. I know that men can have mistresses. Sometimes they become gay. That said, I had never ever heard of cross dressing before. Maybe it is a British thing.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London, Stereotypes /

When something annoys me, I wait for a while to see if it still bugs me after some time. In this case, it did. What am I talking about? Celia Walden’s article on the seven lessons in the art of being a French woman (published on The Telegraph here). I didn’t understand what we French women had done to deserve this. Maybe it was as simple as having a strong French accent. Or being French-born. Seriously, what is it with this obsession with French women? It seems to me that such an obsession shows a close relationship with psychotic processes, and says more about perceived British shortcomings rather than how we French (if there is such a thing as ‘we French’) truly are. I have been told countless times that I shouldn’t complain because the myths on French women are considered to be positive, but try being taken seriously in a technical job when everybody else holds the belief that you are a glamorous creature who preys on unsuspecting British men at night. A myth, positive or not, remains a falsehood. And for the record, I am so tired at night that I tend to sleep, just like most mothers, come to think of it. Surprising, right? I know, I know.

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I have tried countless times to correct false beliefs, but quickly realised that it didn’t work. In fact, things became even worse. I noticed that, when I was trying to give some fact-based evidence to my interlocutors that they were completely wrong about the French, it entrenched their pre-existing positions. Truth be told, it was backfiring on me in a massive way, and I was getting even more personal comments like ‘all French men have a mistress and your husband probably has one, whether you like it or not’ (don’t you love it when people know your life even better than you do?) or ‘French women are such sluts’ (Really? What did I do again?)

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

Following the success of the first chapter or Carine and Archie’s love story (read it here), I have decided to share with you the second chapter of the novel today. You need to keep in mind that I have submitted this story to various publishers, only to be told that they expected Carine to be nicer (who said French women were perfect?), some wanted me to ‘tone it down’ (a recurrent feedback I have), and everybody wanted more ‘Oooh la la’. In short, I couldn’t get it right. Well, here we are. Tell me what you think, and we will adjust as we go along.

The second chapter is all about Carine and Archie met…Here we go!

Chapter 2: Two years earlier…

Mum is going to marry in London this time. Marriage number four. I am seriously bored of mum’s numerous adventures. As a dutiful daughter, I have come from Paris to London and I am starting to regret it. I am twenty-six now, and I feel far more adult than her.

We meet in a cafe at lunchtime for a quick catch-up and after a latte I am swiftly brought to a studio in one of the Barbican towers. I thought that I would hang around with Mum but suddenly realise that I do not belong to her inner circle of friends any longer. In fact, I don’t know my own mother. The view over London is stunning. But I am literally surrounded by concrete and I can’t stand it. It is suffocating. The wedding is starting shortly. Maybe I should go back to Paris. After all, I can hail a black cab and jump to St Pancras. I could be back to France in no time. And miss this charade. It is exactly what I am going to do. My bags are still untouched anyway. I have finally made up her mind: I must go. I quickly open the studio door. .

What I haven’t anticipated is that someone is walking down the corridor. I haven’t seen him. My bags bump into him, full frontal shock.

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