It’s not just being teased because of the abysmal decisions of the French rugby coach (or being able to tease…ok, I swear, I was cheering for England on Saturday, I cannot believe the Welsh won. I was gutted. And imagine, I still have to go through France being trashed by New Zealand ). It’s a lot of little things, even after 9 years, I still make discoveries about my adoptive country.
I am still puzzled by your Marmite, but I love Stilton cheese with passion (I have a great recipe of pasta sauce with Stilton and walnuts…that’s it, I am hungry now, what was I saying before interrupting myself?). I find the royal family utterly amusing, I am quite fond of them really, but I was completely surprised when I woke up to the picture of William-and-Kate beaming through my window on the day of their wedding. I almost had a heart attack. Not only were they flying in mid-air (even in a state of panic, I could remember my bedroom is upstair, and people say I am not cool under pressure!) but they looked strangely frozen…I took me a while to realise my neighbour from across the road had put up a gigantic flag with a portrait of them. Why? I am not making fun, my neighbour was a lovely old lady, and that’s not the reason we moved (really) I would simply love to understand. But I do get the union jacks for sporting events or the Queen’s birthday, the “God save the Queen”…Every year, I buy and wear a poppy, and I cried when I saw them at the Tower of London.
The school System is like a jungle, it’s a perpetual discovery too. Years by years, with L’Ado growing up, I discovered primary school, secondary school, the 6th form and university next year (rhaaaa my baby could leave soon….). The good thing is that English parents seem to be as lost as me. Apparently everything changed from when they were kids themselves. And I don’t have a clue about the French system anymore. All in all, I really like the schools here, they are much better that my memories of the French schools. Except one tiny little thing: why do you insist on having school in July? It’s summer! Let’s play outside, go to the beach and all that, not sit in a classroom stuffed with over sweating children (did I mention I teach French?) When we arrived from Ireland and they gave me a timetable, I thought it was a typo, surely they mean “end of term : the 22nd of June”, right? Wrong.
Don’t get me started on estate agents and the whole property market, I could become very agitated. Or the NHS (our local hospital is officially one of the worse in the country). But I also laugh when the French (from France, I mean, the people living there) pretend their health system is the best in the world. Yeah sure, and they have to pay for everything (like a GP appointment), and it is not working better than the NHS. When it is not on strike I mean…but I always complain about the NHS, especially against my GP receptionist who think it’s her job to make sure nobody get to see a doctor, ever. If you have enough energy to call for an appointment, you’re not that sick, stop moaming and get on with your life. If it’s so bad, there is probably nothing we can do for you anyway, so why bother the GP?
I don’t understand cricket at all (basically, you win when the other team falls asleep, right?) but I am completely addicted to the premier league (as a Arsenal fan obviously, like most of the French expats, but for me it also makes sense geographically speaking. Sort of.). I get extremely upset when French people don’t pronounce English names properly (ahaha, you should hear my accent, but at least, I am trying) but I do not understand when people realise I am French (thanks to my wonderful accent) and try to talk to me about their latest camping holidays in the south of France, in “sskekemeuh” or something. By the way, I am not a tourist office for France, I don’t know every tiny village there and I hate camping as much as I like 5 Stars hotels (without spa, I don’t like spa, I don’t trust them. They do weird things to my hair). I don’t do barbecue, I do not feel the need to sacrifice sausages on charcoal every time it stops raining just because it’s summer. But I love muffins, and scones, and shortbreads…Teatime is snack time for us, then we have a meal at the dining table in the evening. But I do cook shepherd pies and full breakfasts.
I adore the English sense of humour, love the history, I am very chauvinistic about my village, but I can be really upset by some jokes about the French…until I realise I am usually the one making them. Oups! Basically, I love living here. I still discover new things all the time, which is fantastic. I am not completely English but I am not completely French anymore either. Going home means coming back here, in England after a holiday in France, not the other way round.