So you think you that you understand what being British is about? Dear oh dear. I urge you to think again. Little things can betray you, this much I know.
For instance: Where do you find Yorkshire puddings? What does ‘I don’t disagree’ mean?
See, it’s not that easy; I have captured years of experience in this book, and to be truthful I am still learning.
Being British is a complex art.
Still undecided? You can always take this quick test to check if you are ready…
Do you add the tea before milk or milk before the tea?
Now, think of an answer.
Response: It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that your answer must be more than 100 words long (and preferably longer) and that you make your position in the class system abundantly clear by declaring a preference for one way or the other (milk first = working class, milk last = middle class and upwards)
Your new neighbour is putting his rubbish in front of his house, for the bin collection. He is in his boxers (and nothing else despite the biting cold). You have to walk close to him as you are going to the Tube station.
How do you behave?
Just pretend it is totally normal to be outside with almost no clothes on. Make small talk, but from a safe distance. Be polite. Think along the following lines:
“ Hello! It is getting colder, isn’t it?”
“Hi! Lovely to finally put a (small pause)…face on a name!”
Don’t blush, don’t stay silent. Don’t make fun of the situation, it would be rude. Even if it is extremely tempting don’t say “I hadn’t realised that stripes were making a comeback!”. You don’t want to take (too much) advantage of the situation just yet. After all, it is all a question of timing, right?
How much time does a British guy need to make a move on someone he likes?
This is a tricky one. The general consensus is that two months is an absolute minimum, and you should expect hours of small talk about useless matters before the guy will give you a hint of his feelings. That said, there are cases where it can be years or even decades. As a general rule, you should also know that most declarations of love happen down the pub after one too many pints, and need to be reconfirmed the morning after the night before to avoid any disappointment.
You are very late for an important job interview because you child threw up on your outfit and you had to change just before leaving home. To make matters even worse, there was a signal failure on the Tube and you got stuck half an hour on the Underground.
How do you behave when you finally make it for the interview?
Pull yourself together, for God’s sake! Stiff upper lip is absolutely de rigueur, even if you are so upset you want to cry. Play it down, and say things like “There was a little bit of a blooper this morning…”
Make it look like it is one of these things. Apologise, but not too much. After all, it is not your fault. And get the job of course.
So, be honest now: how did you fare? I told you it was hard work to become British, so don’t say you were not warned. If you got correct answers for at least two of these questions, here is what I would say to you: watch out! You are getting there without even realizing it! This guide will give you useful tips and insights to integrate as painlessly as possible. Believe me: if it has happened to me, it can happen to any of us.
Muriel Demarcus used to live in Paris and, when her husband found a job in London, she had two options: change husband or change job. She chose the latter, and the whole family moved to London as a result.
She quickly found a new job but struggled to understand the rules of the game on the other side of the Channel. To make matters even worse, she wasn’t taken seriously, probably because of her French accent. Being a French women in a Corporate environment in London is a double whammy: you have to deal with the sexist comments and the cliches on the French. Because just by crossing the Channel, she had apparently become some sort of mysterious creature that was almost too beautiful to have a brain of her own. So much for having studied quantum physics, abstract algebra and number theory.
She started a blog, FrenchYummyMummy.com, and began writing for newspapers and magazines. The success of her blog took everybody by surprise (including her!) and she decided to write a book based on the blog.