Monday, 19 November 2012

Top 10 Things... England

10 Things I Miss About England
I chose to write the things I’d miss about France first because I think that was probably the more beneficial for my mental state. There are so many fantastic things about France and it can be difficult to remember that sometimes, especially if you’re busy filling out a form in triplicate or being glared at by an old person for speaking English in public with your English friends. That said, I come from a wonderful, wonderful country and the things I miss about it are…

1.      Efficient queuing. It may be a stereotype but British people really do beat the rest of the world senseless when it comes to this. Above all else, queues must be tidy and fast-moving. Tutting and loud comments about falling standards are absolutely fair where this is not the case. If I had a euro for every time I have been stood in what can only be described as a tailback halfway down the aisle in a French supermarket as the cashier of the only open checkout takes their time leisurely scanning through their best friend’s shopping and having a brilliant time doing it, I’d be a rich man. Sort it out.

2.      A system of greetings that I understand. There’s a negative expression in French which translates as ‘to leave like an English person’. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with how we say hello and goodbye – it’s very simple. Here however… Is it two kisses? Four kisses? A handshake? A piece of interpretative dance? Depends where you are, who you’re with and what the weather’s doing, seemingly.

3.      Knowing where to buy things. In England, I’d like to think that I know where to buy just about everything fairly easily. Here, not so much.

4.      Simpler administration. Imagine living in a country where every single matter of administration leaves you longing for the efficiency of the student finance company. Enough said.
Red tape. Everywhere.
5.      Being one of the first countries in the world to show new films. There are films that were out in October in the United Kingdom which France won’t get until December. I have to wait until mid-February for Les Misérables at which time I will get a dubbed monstrosity where the characters’ voices and language completely change every time they need to sing.

6.      People not glaring at those who speak other languages. Some of this does go on in the UK but either I haven’t been paying close enough attention or it’s on a completely different scale here in France. Whenever we speak English amongst ourselves in public, people start loudly bitching about ‘les anglais’ or throwing looks that could kill – unnecessary.

7.      Going to lectures (especially from the English side of my degree). This is probably a sad one but I really do miss it. I like going along to lessons that someone else has planned and just having to sit, listen and take the odd note – this is far better than planning my own and getting irritated when people don’t take them seriously.

8.      London. Beautiful, beautiful London where the streets are paved with gold and there’s a world-standard theatre on every corner. Towards the end of the summer holidays I was in London at least once per week and now find myself in a state of severe withdrawal. I can’t wait to pop down to the capital for a visit or two at Christmas!

9.      Spending time with my family and friends. One of the most difficult things about being in a foreign country on your own is the separation from those that you’d most like to be around. It’s a tricky position – you don’t want those back home to stop having fun, that would be horrible. At the same time, however, when you’re alone in your room of an evening it can be difficult not to begrudge your friends the fact that they have each other when you can’t even be confident of being understood in public.

10.   Sunday opening hours. France is effectively closed from around 7pm on a Saturday until Monday at the very earliest or, in many cases, Tuesday. THIS IS RIDICULOUS. There is absolutely no excuse to close everything on one of the only days that the majority of people don’t work. I am a firm believer that Sunday opening hours should be the same as Saturday’s – the UK may not take things this far (yet) but it’s certainly better than what’s generally available here in France.

10 and a half.
I couldn’t not add this: Rectangular pillows. Squares ones are weird and must be stopped.

Overall, the year abroad is probably the best thing that could have happened to me as far as my relationship with Britain is concerned. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I left the UK far from being a patriot but just two days into my holiday in Southampton at the end of October I fell head over heels in love with my homeland.

I absolutely love France to pieces but as the wise Mr Shakespeare once wrote:
‘Cry God for Harry, England and Saint George!’


  1. From now on, we greet each other with interpretative dance and we say au revoir with a handstand. It has been

  2. square pillows are the devil's work. don't mention them to me.

    also, i've heard a rumour that French shops open on a Sunday in December. GET IN.