Home is…

…where you didn’t expect it to be. I’ve just got back from a five-day trip to the UK which has left me speechless with surprise. I realise that after twenty-five years here and not many visits there, I have become rather used to the French way of life. Similarly, I’ve been brain-washed into thinking that we are fortunate enough to have the very best of everything.

Our trains are not! SNCF managed to make every train I took, including Eurostar, late. OK, they changed my tickets without a quibble and up-graded me to first class because they were short of space but that didn’t help my friend who had to spend two hours extra waiting for me at St. Pancras. On the way home my connection in Paris was cut so fine by delays that I had to do the half-mile sprint across the train station, only to find that my next train was also late and I could have stopped for a smoke and coffee. Grumpy otter!

Would never call you "mate"
Would never call you “mate”

Even over here, the British are renowned for their courtesy. I was, therefore, astounded to be addressed as “guys” by waiting staff. My friend was called “mate” which would have caused Badger to explode if he’d been there. I’m used to calling everyone Monsieur and Madame if I don’t know their name. It’s just good manners. What the hell happened to Sir and Madam? When did they stop talking English in the UK and start speaking American. I know it is because I’ve spent some pleasant holidays there and understand that their waiting staff have to virtually sit on one’s lap to ensure a decent tip.

I know I’m home now. I was sitting on the bench with my oldies when the district nurse came by. He drew up and called across “Medicine, time!” trying to attract his patient’s attention. It was down to me to explain to my short-sighted companions that it was Michel, the nurse and someone was at treatment time. He called across “Thanks, Elise” which is OK as he knows me very well. Not, you will notice, “Thanks, mate”.  We both giggled and Therèse set off at a fast hobble to get home for her medication.

I remember why this is home now. It’s where I belong.

11 thoughts on “Home is…

  1. Oh yes, things have changed. With regards to train, I took the fast train from Barcelona to Paris and back and while we were in Spain we were doing OK, but you’re right, once we hit France… Mon dieu! Happy you’re home again!

  2. Sorry about the lack of courtesy Elise I think it’s disappearing with a certain age group.- Ours. If you eat and drink in the best places then manners are retained as part of the job training but probably revert once outside, anywhere else and you’re addressed with a horrible familiarity. I’m sure no disrespect is intended but like we probably shocked our elders, we find it a bit shocking. You may have to try the streets of Paris to see if it’s changing there also. Small towns are slower to adapt.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    1. I am just behind the times, not having been there for so long. In the roughest cafés over here I still get called “Madame” even if the bar owner is exchanging foul-mouthed insults with his mates.

  3. Such a shame! Good manners are an endangered species over here, I’m sorry to say. One thing that particularly annoys me is the sexism: Keir gets called ‘sir’, I get called ‘love’.

  4. Oh dear sounds like I’m in for a treat when I go back after 5 years because ” Mate or love” I am not! But will say these very trendy, upmarket, place to eat if you are in vogue eateries that is the language they use . Phewww methinks my age is showing 🙂

  5. As an American, I can safely say that “Dear” or “Pet” tends to be the feminine familiar endearment by the Southern folk. Not sure what the Northerners say, as I haven’t been around them in over 20 years. “Mate” tends to be more of an Australian background. (Thank you Crocodile Dundee… Did wonders for spreading THAT endearment around!)

    Glad to hear you made it home safely, however. Trips back to your roots are nice, but home is where you’re most comfortable.

  6. I can relate to this post! France has also crept into the way I see the world – malgré moi. When I go ‘home’ to Canada after 25 years, I now feel like a foreigner, or a sort of hybrid transplant who also hates the overly friendly wait staff who are either fawning all over us, asking where we’re from, or providing rather incompetent service. And yet that snarl on the French waiter’s face still rankles and the SNCF leaves me irate. But you’re right: je suis chez moi ici.

  7. so sorry to hear you did not enjoy your trip to the UK, Ailsa. It is sad that the world is changing, and not for the better. You either get rudeness or indifference, and most of the time I prefer the latter. Less painful!

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