Sunday, January 28, 2007

A flying visit

My sister got married in Eastbourne on Saturday and my three girls were bridesmaids. We flew to Gatwick on Friday afternoon and left on Sunday morning…back in time for the girls to do their homework, much to their chagrin

I usually travel by train. I like watching the scenery change from north to south or from east to west and I have time to adjust so that when I reach England, all of me is on Local Time.

Travelling by plane is different. No sooner had we soared above the snow-capped Alps and crossed a sea of creamy cloud than we were descending towards England - and another planet…

I was still in Gallic mode and talking French to everyone I met until I got fed up of my daughter elbowing me in the ribs. Then I took a look around me. I hadn’t been here for six years and some things had changed, others hadn’t – but what struck me was how different we are. Of course, it has struck me before but I wonder if the cultural gap isn’t getting wider. Perhaps I’ve been away too long…or perhaps it’s because I was also seeing it from the viewpoint of three French teenagers - I don’t know. But this time I really did feel as if I were visiting a foreign country.

People seemed friendlier in England – strangers smiled and called me ‘love’ and ‘sweetheart’. In contrast, the dour but handsome Alain Delon look-alike customs officer in Grenoble, whilst explaining a particularly illogical piece of French legislation, fixed me with a stare that would have turned wine to vinegar at thirty paces. And anyway, if he had called me 'sweetheart', I might possibly have swooned…

According to my children, the English dressed badly and were moches. Don’t worry - this is a sweeping generalization made by teenage girls and aimed mainly at me. I didn’t notice many Alain Delon look-alikes though, I must say.

But I think it was the humour that affected me the most. Everybody made jokes – from the steward on the plane to the girl in the corner shop to the minister at the ceremony. The English love to laugh at themselves and the French take themselves so seriously that it’s – well – laughable.

Anyway, we’re back now. It was a beautiful wedding. However, I haven’t got a single photo to show you because some drunken reveller erased all the pictures from my camera.

Now, that is no joke…


Pam said...

Probably the best laughs I've had have been with Brits! Sounds like you had a great time!!

:( sorry about the photos

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about the French sense of humour. I still get eyed suspiciously when I crack a joke.
Thanks for the link.

Sarah said...

I enjoy my visits back to Blighty. I try to go twice a year as that way it is just 'normal' and the boys feel they have a British identity too, and are at home there.

Although I hate RyanAir, it has made this possible, damn them! I much prefer the train and try to use it instead, especially in the summer when RyanAir put up their prices.

angela said...

I've got family in the UK so trips back are a necessity and a pleasure.
My kids alternatively love and hate going depending on what age they're at but they do appreciate all the things there are to do and, as you say, the friendliness.
Pity about your photos.

Anonymous said...

I keep trying to tell jokes in France, but without much luck. Glad you found the British giggly, though. It felt odd to me to return to the USA few weeks ago and to understand all of the jokes...I'm too used to living in a language fog.

Meilleurs voeux!!