Archive for July 8th, 2007

As regular readers know, my adored husband is a half-Brit, which is not the same as a half-wit, but not totally unrelated.

Yes, that’s extremely unkind and so veddy-veddy not PC, but Hey!, some things just must be said.

Mark was born in England and passed some of his childhood there, but most of his growing was done on this small, tropical island instead of that large chilly one … a factor that factors in greatly in the fact that he and I ended up together.

I lived in England for a couple of years, and as Mark so Britishly puts it, life there “didn’t suit me.” It may have been an easier adjustment if we’d lived in London … truly one of my favorite cities, and as much a city as a city must be to be interestingly livable … but we were in Bournemouth, which isn’t.

One good thing, however, about having lived in the UK for a spell is that it prepared me for life on a tiny rock in the middle of nowhere better than anything could have. I learned what education and medical care look like in developing nations, how poor service is no matter to anyone, how to cope with small mindedness as the order of the day, and what the world looks like from a vantage point that relies on shoulder chips and wannabes.

By comparison, Seychelles seemed progressive, lavish and open-minded … but there’s not all that we-used-to-be-an-Empire thing going on here.

Lest anyone think I went into English life prepared to rebel — until I moved there I was as Anglophilic as most Americans. All my impressions had come from encounters with the original Potter (Beatrix), Beatlemania, and London vacations that had me shopping at Harrods and hanging at Stringfellow’s.

I was convinced that life there was bound to be a combination of quaint and literary, with overtones of historic significance … and no little romance, of course, since I’d relocated to be with the love of my life.

Well, the romance was certainly no letdown, but the rest of it … ?

What I encountered was a rude population of cold fish with thought patterns I assumed had been left far behind in Western cultures. Racism, homophobia, religious intolerance, sexism, were all alive and well in Southern England in 1994.

One need only look at television programs like “Father Ted” to get an idea of how easily the British ‘take the mickey’ out of their Irish neighbors, and although the show cracked me up I was always aware of how offensive it must have been to Catholics.

If you’re wondering why I’m on this jag this morning, I’ll point you toward an article from the Telegraph that reminds me today of the backwardness of the UK that drove me up a wall while I was there. (This, in conjunction with summer day after summer day that saw the weather in Moscow 20 degrees warmer than the drizzly, damp and dreary days in Bournemouth.)

“How to … be a girl: 10 Things Every Girl Should Know” is the title of the piece that begs the question, “What year is this?”

Apparently a review for “The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls”, it’s all sugar and spice and everything vomit-inducing.

Some of the ten things?
1. How To Deal With Boys
2. How To Have A Best Friend
3. How To Cope When Your Best Friend Gets A New Best Friend
6. How To Keep A Secret
7. How To Tell If An Egg Is Fresh
8. How To Sulk

And some of the advice?

The main difference between boys and girls is that boys like doing things – driving cars, playing football, throwing stuff, eating, farting – and girls like feeling things, such as love, friendship, happiness and excitement.

Boys are very physical; girls are very emotional.

Boys are often spoilt by their mothers, so they have a tendency to think girls should do all the boring things in life, such as cleaning, cooking and ironing their T-shirts, while they do all the exciting things: jet-skiing, playing in rock bands, being spies.

The best approach is to put on a smiling public face. Be charming, be polite. Soon the horrible feelings of rejection will pass and you will be able to look back with gratitude that you behaved with dignity.

Excellent elements of sulking are the Black Look, the Deep Sigh and the No One Ever Understands a Single Thing I’m Going Through Shrug.

A sulk should be short and intense.

Thankfully, I’m raising my daughter on this island, not that one.

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