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Why do the Brits feel compelled to give me a history lecture when they notice that I am French? I don’t get it. It happened last Friday as well. I was taking part in a filming for Littlewoods with Laurence Llewelyn-Boyen, the flamboyant designer. You can watch it here (go to 54 mins, and press skip if you don’t want all the FB notifications), and you will see me in part 4 -the last one-. I thought that it would be a fun thing to do (for the records I didn’t get paid) and I had indeed more fun than I bargained for…Let me explain.
The exchange went as follows:
“Where are you from, Muriel?”
“Well, originally I am French but now I am British”
“My great grandfather died at Waterloo. When I once mentioned this to a French acquaintance,  he asked me ‘which platform’?”
“Well, nobody is perfect, Laurence.”
This is typical. I have been given more than my fair share of history lectures on Waterloo, Trafalgar, the Dunkirk spirit, and so on, and so forth. Maybe I am reading too much into this. Maybe, after all, it was just a joke. I will never know.
Why do the Brits feel that they have to make such points? Is it something I did? Is it my accent? Is it their sense of humour? I don’t get it.
When I am meeting German friends, I never talk about the members of my family who died during WW1 & WW2. Why would I? I live in the present, and, I don’t want to reopen old wounds. And I am not the hero here. Those who fought are. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of them and I get emotional when I see their names in my village’s cemetery. They made the ultimate sacrifice. But does the fact that I am French-born mean that I am accountable for all French victories & defeats? Maybe we should start with Hastings, guys (yes, the French can win). Please, give me a break.
So here it is: I think that you should send the cavalry back by now. Time to live in the present.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • Of course, you are responsible, Muriel. That’s the way things work… 🙂

  • *Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen* Nobody ever listened to him even when he was on the Telly! Can I just mentioned that at Waterloo it was an Irish commander who won it for the Brits (and the timely arrival of the Prussians) for as Arthur Wellesley remarked “it was a damm close run thing!” His brother Richard Wellesley established British rule in India so, as you can see, the British Empire is really down to us Paddies?

  • SarahHague

    Yeah, my brother’s like that. Took a malin plaisir in reminding my French penfriend about all British victories over the French. Made him feel better I expect…

  • Carol

    I remember once saying to an English committee that was paying me , well, I don’t know about that, I’m Canadian. They’re answer was – that’s not our problem, it’s your fault. It was done with humour, but it still stung – so yes it is your fault 🙂

  • Carolina HeartStrings

    Hmmm… Maybe since at one time the British Empire was so large it is just ingrained in generations of Brits to relate to history. And… well this is not exactly relevant but one of my Civil War re-enactor friends is British. I don’t really get his enthusiasm for acting out history over here stateside although as a nation of immigrants we certainly had foreigners fighting for both sides….

  • AnnMullen

    I don’t get it either. And Roy, that is why Christians give Jews a hard time about Jesus. That makes no sense. I would be inclined to ask your historian hysterical blow hard “And you bring this up to me because . . . ?”

  • Can I just say….You look fabulous, Muriel! And I love that seesaw! As for Laurence, well, I think you should forgive him, if only for the fact that he did say he was in the company of beautiful and ‘genetically modified’ people 😉

  • MuMuGB

    Thank you Joy (blushing now). As for Laurence, well, what can I say? It must be in the British genes.

  • MuMuGB

    I have learned (the hard way) that I can not win on this one, Ann. I just let it pass as gracefully as possible.

  • MuMuGB

    I strongly believe that the re-enactment gene comes with being British. Your post convinced me even more!

  • MuMuGB

    And how was it your fault exactly? What a silly comment!

  • MuMuGB

    Why does he do it? I don’t get it. How did it make him feel better?

  • MuMuGB

    Thanks for the clarification, David. Then again, why do I always get such comments? What is wrong with me? I am starting to wonder.

  • MuMuGB

    I know, I know. I am responsible for living in the present, right?

  • I would venture to say there is nothing wrong with you – I hope this is not a sign of weakness!

  • Penelope James

    It really makes no sense and past history is just that. Why do the Brits have to recite history at you? Past glories were also past tyrannies. Haven’t the French always shown off to the Brits and the Brits to the French? I feel for you, Muriel, especially since I’ve been attacked or looked down on or forced to defend myself for being British,or American, or Mexican, and ancient history raked up (brutality towards the Irish or the Mexicans, or Spanish religiosity, or so on). Will watch the film when I have time.

  • MuMuGB

    Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone! Seriously, I used to find it funny but it is starting to get on my nerves!!!