Published on September 10th, 2013 | by Mediocre Mother0
Musings of a Mediocre Mother
So I started the school summer holidays with a few days in France. (Sounds lovely, but wasn’t really and not to sound too ungrateful, it was a duty visit but won’t go into that now). I used to consider myself a complete Francophile; I did several exchange visits with a French girl whilst at school, loved the language so took French at A level, which I didn’t pass brilliantly but I hadn’t allowed for 4 very strange French literature books that needed learning, and even went to work there for one of my work placements whilst at college. I did my bit for the ‘Entente Cordiale’, not a strange drink that might have lurked at the back of the booze cupboard as I used to think, but rather trying to improve relationships between the French and English. I was almost fêted by those I met as I broke all the pre-conceived ideas about the English; I ate my steak blue, would tuck into frogs legs and pigs trotters, drank my coffee black, smoked my cigarettes strong and loved garlic. I did, however, draw the line at ‘andouillette’ a sausage made from pigs colon, tripe and lots of bits you don’t know what else to do with, but then many French turn their noses up too. I honestly believed when I was younger that I would end up living and working in France, such was my passion for France and the French.
Plans change though and in recent years when I have visited France I’m amazed at how wide the chasm is between them and us. Without the benefit of youth’s rosy glasses, I’m sorry to say that I find I am not quite so keen. I know this is a generalisation and my apologies to any French readers but on the whole I now find them very rude. I still speak passable French and always use my please’s and thank you’s but regularly encounter blank looks as if I’m speaking martian or feel I’m being ignored or not served in favour of a local.
To give an example, on my recent visit, my youngest son and my niece wanted to go on a carousel. My sister – who actually did end up living in France for a number of years – approached the man and asked for 2 tickets, in French, apologising because she only had a large note. I then joined her saying, in French, that I had the correct money if that would help. We were met with complete silence and no facial expression. Our money was taken and tickets given but with no acknowledgment whatsoever.
Is it us? Have the English abroad become so unpopular that we warrant this treatment? I know that tradition almost dictates that the French and English don’t get along but I had hoped this wasn’t the case because of my earlier experiences. Oh well, that’s life, or as they say in France, “Tant pis, c’est la vie”
“What are we doing today?” The chant of the summer holidays and the question I dread. Have I failed somehow if I haven’t laid something on for every day? But in 3 days from the time of writing, my lovely in-laws are taking my boys for 4 days at their house. What bliss! (Sorry to gloat). We’ll have some time to ourselves, hubby and I. I can straighten the house without it becoming muddled again within seconds. Deflate mattresses and put away bedding from the latest sleepover and perhaps, maybe, just maybe, put my feet up for a while…