Dear international friends, I don’t know where you are from and what it’s like in term of class conflict in your country, if slums and villas are next to each other or if it’s not that bad but be prepared, the Brits are middle class. And even when they’re not they sound like they are.
The Brits are overly polite and amiable. Very politically correct (meaning by that that you don’t talk about politics). Everything has to be said with tact and correctness or be silenced. Let me give you a few practical examples:
You don’t say “I think you’re friend’s an idiot” you say “the atmosphere would have been positively different if some people hadn’t attended the party.”
You don’t say “I think kebads are disgusting and wouldn’t be surprised if it was made of cat meat” you say “As much as I’d fancy a change in my alimentary habits and would love to come with you to the kebad restaurant, I’d rather have a well adjusted meal before my important meeting.”
You don’t say “its been pissing rain for two weeks I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore” you say “this weather would be nicer for a short walk in the country side”
So it sounds nice and educated not like my poor straightforward this-is-what-I-feel-like statements, but where is the real stuff? I might have a conversation with someone who I think I am bounding with when actually they can’t stand my face!
In France when people are unhappy with the management of their company you hear about it on the news. In England, when people are unhappy with the management of their company, the secretaries will hear slight double-meaning comments about it at the entrance desk.
It is said that the English like to queue. In reality they hate it. They queue and wait for ages, and the longer they wait the longer they think of what they’re going to say to that person they’ll face at the end of the queue. And when the wait is over they say “Hello dear! Lovely afternoon isn’t it?”
Lovely is one of those words used a lot in England. Like proper. Everything has to be proper and improper is a highly offensive insult.
I thought it was okay to joke about the Queen, because as a French person, titles like princesses or kings sound like the beginning of a fairy tale or a children story but IT IS NOT OKAY TO JOKE ABOUT IT. And if really you have to, DO NOT make jokes linked with the French Revolution and our treatment of the royal family. Not funny. To them.
They say dear and darling a lot as well. Apparently it’s normal, like if living on the same island makes you all part of the same family. But a very English family, where you just talk about the weather, keep a one-second-long hug rule, and never ever display vulnerability in front of each other, unless your cricket team just lost and in that case it’s okay to cry and you can break that hug rule, because cricket is a serious matter. You can apply that to football and rugby as well. So the ‘darlings’, the ‘my lovelys’ and the ‘my loves’, are not patronising at all, that is part of the greeting dance, and actually not talking to the cashier like you’re her great uncle or aunt is just rude.
What’s funny with the Brits as well (I’m getting carried away obviously) is their relationship with foreign languages. They either feel deeply ashamed that they don’t speak another language (and blame the school system, the teachers, the prime minister, anybody who was around when they had foreign languages classes) or will just tell you that they’re bad at languages. And then I feel bad for the foreigners that move to England and are bad at languages but their daily life DEPENDS ON IT. But I get it, I mean if French was the language spoken internationally, I don’t think I’d put that much effort into learning English.
There’s also people that will tell you of their atrocious experience abroad that put them off from learning a second language. Like, “I went to a French bakery and asked for a croissant IN FRENCH”, like “wow you were in France and you spoke French! the people there must have been so impressed!” “yeah, and the lady made me repeat THREE times before she could understand!” and they share this experience as if to say, “French never again!”, and I’m like, “oh you mean that the natives there could not understand your accent and you had to repeat what you said? you mean like what happens to me every flipping day?!”
So dear international friends, if you move to England and English is your second language, it will be harder for the English to sympathise but if they can’t stand you face, your accent or your culture, they will be nice and polite to you so that’s nice eh! (Is it?) On the other hand if you are moving to France please remember French people love you, just rethink your idea of how love can be shown.