Recently, during my travels, I have had far too many comments regarding my nationality. I keep saying that, yes, I am French-born, but I now have a British passport, to no avail. Once again, whatever I do, I am ‘the French one’. That said, we French are the envy of the world, right? We also have the reputation to be rude and arrogant. I have therefore decided to make the most of it. Here is how…
Let’s start with the obvious. In order to be true to your reputation, don’t check in online, turn up as late as possible and change the seat a few times. That will teach them, right? Stay hydrated: this means that it’s OK to arrive at the airport already drunk, and continue the party onboard. Make a huge fuss to be upgraded -we French moan all the time, so just go for it… Jump the queue, and argue that it can’t be possible that all these people are travelling business class anyway. Just do it. There is always someone who does it. Why not you this time?
Let’s face it: there’s nothing glamorous or exciting about commercial air travel, especially if you have to go to Stansted airport at the crack of dawn. That said, that’s not an excuse to dress down. High heels are a must, and will amaze your fellow passengers. And don’t forget your sunglasses at all times to complete the look.
As I am in a good mood today, and as I have had enough of the doom and gloom, I thought I’d share with you the accumulated wisdom of my many years spent travelling the world – a definitive guide to make air travel palatable for you, but not necessarily for those around you. After all, if I am the French one, warts and all, I need to act like one…Every cloud has its silver lining, right?
It is this time of the year, I suppose. It is getting colder and darker by the minute, and to make matters even worse I am bombarded with emails promising me the best discounts ever. Frankly, I can’t take it anymore. And believe me, I have tried to unsubscribe from all the various newsletters, but it doesn’t seem to work. I am starting to use a service called unroll.me to have a tidier email box. We’ll see if it makes things a bit better. Because right now, I have had enough.
Let me be clear: I don’t want to buy anything. When did Black Friday become such a big thing?
I don’t remember anything about Black Friday when I was growing up. Now it is simply everywhere. Even in France it is gaining momentum.
I was explained that Black Friday is the start of the Christmas season, hence its popularity. But this consumerism craze is getting on my nerves. Seriously, there is only so much that you need, right? I feel like going to a remote place for the next six months or so, and forget about society in general and bulk messaging in particular. I might be becoming asocial. What’s wrong with me?
I have already told you: we French are special. We French are different. Of course we are. That’s why there is such a strong anti-French sentiment. Love it or hate it, we want the world to know that we do things our own way. It’s in our genes. So, what do we do differently? Here are a few examples…
The French cultural exception of course: we have our own singers and movie stars. Of course we accept that most global culture is in English, we just want our own to get funding too. To cut a long story short, the anglo-saxon world considers arts as an industry making profits, whereas we French consider culture as the product of ideas that extend beyond strict commercial value. We are a bunch of idealists.
The food. French gastronomy was added by the UNESCO to its lists of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage”…We French have a very high opinion of our cooking. We explained to the whole world how things should be done. Not to mention that nothing tops up the Michelin guide. In short, don’t you ever try to explain to us what food is about. Especially when the bread this side of the Channel is systematically under cooked. Just saying. And do not dare to mention a straight croissant to me.
If case you haven’t noticed, right now it is freezing in London. If, like me, you are not used to it, well, it’s time to do something about it. Let’s be positive about this, right? Anyway, it’s not as if we have a choice, so let’s make the most of it. It feels like Christmas has come in advance this year. Let’s just accept it, and make the best out of it. So what to do?
Buy a reindeer jumper. I have found some very nice ones for the little ones. Have a look here: kids knitwear. In fact, I am even thinking of buying one for myself. After all, if you don’t wear a reindeer jumper when it’s cold, you never wear one.
This morning there was a car waiting for someone in the middle of the street where I live. A black cab wanted to drive through, and could not overtake it, because the street was too narrow. The driver started honking his horn, lowered his car glass window and profusely shouted at the car. It was a colourful exchange. I witnessed the whole thing, and asked myself:
‘What happened to British good manners ?’
Seriously, I thought that this country was all about gentlemanly behaviour, fair play and the likes. Now I am not so sure. Come to think of it, British athletes want to win as much as any other athletes. In fact, young people I talk to are unable to make eye contact and speak to me without incoherently mumbling (Maybe it’s old age. I might be becoming deaf?). I don’t want to name and shame, but this morning at the coffee shop someone didn’t mop up after himself in the loo. And the neighbour’s dog keeps peeing on my porch.
Very. Bad. Manners.
I might be French but I have brought up British daughters. This stark realisation came yesterday evening when my younger daughter was taking far too much time to go to bed. To speed things up I decided to switch the light off (otherwise she would probably still be reading -or playing-) in her bedroom. That’s when she protested with a loud
What? Did she just say ‘Oi’? I couldn’t believe it. A well-behaved French little girl would have said
‘eh oh, I still need the light’ or
‘Mummy, can you please switch the light on?’
It happened again today. What am I talking about? Well, I received another dick pic on Twitter this morning, as a DM. I deleted it, and blocked the account, as I usually do. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t like it, but, frankly, it didn’t bother me. I am used to it by now. I still don’t understand what men expect me to do when they send me such pictures. Do they want me to reciprocate(No way!) ? Shall I admire them? What is the point exactly? I don’t understand but hey, we are where we are.
I then opened my email box, and this time found a love declaration (not from the same guy, I think). It’s amazing how people believe that they have a special connection with you when they don’t know you at all. I ignored it. That’s not entirely true: I thought of forwarding it to my agent to see whether we could publish all the love declarations I have received at some point. It could work, couldn’t it?
It happened during a race. As you know, I sometimes run ultra marathons. What can I say? I like to push myself. Anyway, one of the (many) things I love about races is that I don’t have any filtering system when I run. It was the end of yet another long ultra, and I was exhausted. My running watch had died a long time ago, and I had no idea how much longer I needed to run. Which is why, when I saw a fellow runner, I asked him how far from the finishing line we were. He said something like ‘about a mile’.
I was delighted. I was almost there. I had made it. Which is why I blurted out:
” Oh really? I love you for this!”
You British are so nice. Seriously, how can you guys be always so kind? You will have to tell me what your secret is. I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. What am I talking about? Well, let me explain: I happen to be a non-exec for a local bank in France, and we had a board meeting the other day. After 45 minutes, one of the other participants said that he needed the loo, and never came back. I was shocked. Nobody looked surprised, except me. What had happened?
I did what I had to do: I took the issue to Twitter and asked for advice. What did we do before social media existed? I wonder…In no particular order and without having to move, I was told that:
You know that everybody keeps telling me that I look French. I think that I sound French more than anything but hey, we are where we are. Today I wanted to share with you how to do the French ‘beach look’. As you know, I am very low maintenance. My idea of a blow-dry is to go to bed with wet hair in order to have more volume in the morning. Sometimes it works…sometimes it doesn’t!
Which is why, when I was invited to the Rush Hair Salon in Greenwich (https://www.rush.co.uk/salons/Greenwich?gclid=Cj0KEQjwsai_BRC30KH347fjksoBEiQAoiaqsaaWNt8OFUMEr3OdyLNveWRjzJBz89_-iG69ZhZW9ewaAm4g8P8HAQ) to get the ‘beach look’, I immediately accepted. Anita was my stylist, and of course she was great.
Seriously, this was a wonderful idea, wasn’t it? The weather was grey and dull and having the beach look was the perfect way to brighten my day.