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 Cultural Differences, London, Looking Good /

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that not all men have been blessed with the gift of wits and nerves of steel, much less the skills required to hook the interest of a woman. In fact, let’s be realistic here: most men don’t have these talents (sorry, guys). That said, it’s alright to be a bit shy. And this is probably why the pickup line was invented. But remember, the pickup line is a double-edged sword. No pressure, but it is a make-or-break thing, and everything depends on how she will take it. And don’t forget that good sense of humour can depend on culture and social rules (see here if you don’t believe me…)

This morning, for instance, I was coming back home from the gym (Seriously, what is it with guys and sweatpants? I will never understand) when this guy stopped, and told me:

“- Excuse me, do I know you from somewhere?”

Pathetic. This was simply pathetic. Come on, if he knew me, then surely he would remember me. I would like to think that I am not someone you can forget so easily. So, either he was simply lying, and well, at least he tried to say something. But if it were true, and he really knew me, what a pathetic question! Did I make such a lame impression when we first met? Next time, just shut up.

I just smiled, said “I don’t think so”, and walked away.

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Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today here is a post I wrote for TheLocal about the dating rules in France. It is light-hearted and written for a younger audience, but I hope that you’ll still enjoy it!

If you are still on your own for Valentine’s Day, it is time to step up your game and make a move.  But how do we French make a move? Well, I am not going to lie to you: it will be hard. For starters, you need to forget everything you have learned, and do it the French way. Here are some pointers.
A.     Don’t smile. Don’t look happy. Pout. I know that this sounds completely counter-intuitive, but it works. We French love making things complicated. He/she will notice you. Just don’t smile.
B.     The guy has to take the initiative. It sounds old-fashioned, but that’s how it works. But if the woman does take the initiative, she has to make the man believe that he did all the work. It’s exhausting. But if you don’t do it, you will look needy.
C.     For condoms. Always have (at least) one in your purse. Because sleeping with him/her on the very first date will not be held against you. That said, don’t get your hopes up.
D.    Men need to be very forward. Women expect the whole shebang: flowers, dinners, love declarations, text messages and even small gifts. French women need to play hard to get. Sad but true. My tip for him: text her as soon as the date is over to tell her you already miss her. For her: always look busy, and never accept a date immediately.
E.     Always be at least 15 minutes late. Personally I hate it but that’s the way it is. We French are always late. And no cheap date please. McDonalds or Burger King won’t make the cut.
F.     Look gorgeous, but don’t overdo it. Of course, you need to make it look like you haven’t made an effort. I know, it is easier said than done.


G.     The man is supposed to pay for the romantic dinners, the drinks and the outings. In fact, he is supposed to pay for everything, or at least suggest he will. Women can protest a little bit but if he insists you have to let him pay.
H.    The man is supposed to compliment the woman at every possible opportunity.
I.      Women should avoid showing too much flesh. In France, it is always better to suggest rather than be half-naked.
J.     No beer please. Champagne is the only acceptable drink to celebrate.
 K.    Having your espresso with milk is a deal-breaker. Yes, even a little bit of milk.
L.     If you have the slightest doubt of whether he/she is faithful, then he/she probably isn’t. Dump him and go back to point A.
M.   If, after a few repeats of points D to K, you still haven’t used the condom mentioned in point C, you might want to cut your losses and move on.
And read the rest of the article here

 

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

 

 
I have tried to deny it countless times, and I will continue to do so. Despite everything you have read in the newspapers (especially the British ones), we French haven’t invented extra-marital affairs. That said, I must admit that we do have a very specific figure of speech for a visit to one’s mistress.  We call it a 5 a 7 (five-to-seven). It is derived from the time of the day a Frenchman would make such a visit. So, next time you hear a French person say that they are going to their 5 to 7, you will know what they are talking about. You will understand and nod quietly. Everybody will understand and shut up. That’s how we French are: we keep some things private. Yes, especially these things.

Mind you, if someone from Canada invites you for a 5-to-7, it has a completely different meaning: it will just be a social gathering with friends and colleagues. Don’t expect anything remotely naughty. In short, get the nationality of your interlocutor right, or you might end up in a bit of a pickle. Now you know.
Come to think of it, the 5 to 7 has always been a mystery for me: can you really compartimentalise your life for a couple of hours? Can you be a perfect family man/women for 22 hours, and escape from your daily routine for two hours a day? I really wonder. Seriously, how do you do this? Is there a switch in your mind that you can use? Where is it? How do you switch it on and off? How come I didn’t know?

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Posted by / Category London /

 

After yesterday’s post, I had lots of comments about the fact that some of you will spend the day on their own, and would give anything to have a partner.
Well, this post is for you. It must indeed be a nightmare to be surrounded by (sometimes) smug couples. On my Tube journey today, people were kissing everywhere. On the platform, waiting for the train. On the Tube, as passionately as possible. On the escalators, blocking the rest of us. I can’t take it any more.

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Posted by / Category London /

 
It’s almost Valentine’s Day. In London, red roses are already overpriced, and restaurants overbooked. I think that I am becoming an old fart: I can’t stand this charade any more. Because love needs to be celebrated every day, right? Why would you wait for a specific day to show your love? Any day is as good as Valentine’s Day to declare your flame. In short, I am in a foul mood. I don’t know why.
To cheer me up, I decide to have a cupcake break. It always does the trick. I am immediately feeling a lot better after a few bites. I decide to call a French friend of mine. Well, it certainly looks like things are a lot more exciting for her.

You see, this friend is a maneater. You may remember her from an old post here. To cut a long story short, she is in a little bit of a pickle (that’s actually a British understatement).

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Posted by / Category London /


As you know, Valentine’s Day is coming up. I will be writing about it this week. It’s this time of the year. There is no escaping from overpriced red roses anyway: they are everywhere. You may not know it, but it looks like, once again, the French have invented Valentine’s day. What can I say? Anything to do with love can be linked with France. That’s the way it is. I don’t always like the reputation we French have, but I just have to live with it.


I have always wondered why Valentine day was mid-February. Surely summer would be well, nicer. Or at least warmer. But I was wrong again. Apparently, both in England and France, birds and other animals paired off and mated in the middle of February. It is thought that people started to, well, do the same, and celebrate the 14th of February as the special day for lovers. 

There is another reason why Valentine Day originated from France: the oldest known Valentine still exists today as a poem written by the Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The greeting was written in February 1415. The Duke of Orleans stayed in captivity for 25 years. He wrote a lot and apparently could barely speak French when he was freed. The only way to reach his lover was to write. You thought that you had it hard? Well, you see, it could be much, much worse.

This story inspired a song called ‘Ma seule amour’ by French singer Laurent Voulzy (I think that he lives in the UK too, actually). The chorus says it all:
” Stay away from the door it’s locked for ever.
Write a song no other way to reach your lover…”

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