Am I getting to grips with (the) French?

20 July 2011

I remain hopeful, because I have now reached a level where I can confidently do what I call “drive-by moaning or swearing”. I did it quite spontaneously yesterday when the driver of the huge lorry that routinely blocks our cycle path twice a week, had also littered the pavement (which cyclists have to use when their path is blocked) with huge red metal clamps. These were very dangerous obstacles to fast cycling adults or children who weren’t looking where they were going. Cycling past, I actually managed to shout at the driver that dropping the things on the pavement was stupid and dangerous. Since I got an apologetic reply, I assume he understood me! I may have been rude, but it seems that some things — even if it is moaning — come easier in French now, HOORAH.
I also have to say that I have grown really fond of the French as a people. I find them not as easy to chat to as the Anglo-saxons, but once you get to know them a bit they actually remember you next time you meet…:). The French people we have befriended here are simply lovely, very kind, helpful and fun (although I don’t always get the jokes). The other week, we went to a housewarming party. This was a typical French affair: To start with, everybody huddled round in groups of people they knew and there wasn’t much talk. But the alcohol flowed freely and towards 10.30pm the barbie was up and running so we could start eating about 11pm. And there were masses of food — a whole baby bath full of marinated chicken legs — which I didn’t eat obviously (for those who don’t know, I am a pescarian), but it smelled lovely, and people were eating, eating, drinking, smoking and talking slowly but surely through the night. The food facilitated communication as everybody hovered round the buffet, because, as one nice guy we spoke to explained, the French bond over eating. I love the fact that food is so important and that sharing a meal seems essential to founding friendships. I recently realized that over the past couple of years, I have developed a real appreciation for the French way of life. Sure, its not perfect, but there is so much good stuff, that I am very grateful for having the opportunity to explore French life for a bit longer. This is me, who was NEVER too keen on France in the past. But I am turning from a mere anglophile into a proper a franco-anglophile or is it anglo-francophile I am not so sure — if this at all possible? I am working on it — still loving Britain and its culture but growing increasingly fond of all things French….I guess there is room to deeply appreciate more than one culture in my heart. And I am hoping we might move to Italy or Spain next … (just kidding — I think?)

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