Saturday, July 03, 2010

The British Abroad

It's time for the truth. When on holiday we tend to avoid other British people, especially in France and especially ex-pats. There, that feels better.

So let me now get really bitchy. It's the posh buggers who really tend to piss us off. The ones who sit in cafes talking very loudly about whatever career made them so wealthy, usually now retired, and how tourists are spoiling their favourite bastide towns. Of course they are on holiday, but it's the 'plebs' who are the 'tourists' in their eyes, meaning everybody but themselves.

They then rattle on about the marvellous food at Chez le Ripoff in Chateugorleymand-Sur-Le-Rive Planchette, a definite throwing down of the gauntlet to somebody like me. So that night you tootle off to lower the tone of Chez le Ripoff. After pate ou salad followed by duck ou steak ou pizza finished off with glace ou creme brulee ou assiete de fromage, yet again, you leave the place as it shuts at 9 00pm, wondering what the crashing old bore was on about, it was the same menu as in every other restaurant in every other town in France. Apart, of course, from the one regional speciality such as cassoulet, snails or tartiflette. That's the problem with so many British people who drool over France, they believe the myth of French food.

Then you get told by some herbert on the next table in the cafe you really must visit the market which opens tomorrow at 8 00am, but be sure to get there early. So you crawl out of your pit and stroll around the market. Wow, look at that selection of sausages and salamis. Wow, look at that cheese stall. Wow, look at that fruit and veg stall, and that one there, and that other one. Wow look at that caravan selling rotisserie chickens, just the same as those in Carrefour but three times as expensive. In fact you see that all the stuff is exactly the same as in the supermarket, but at least twice as much. But we must keep up the myth of the wonderful French markets, after all we're British.

We went on a short trip down the river from Bergerac this week, very nice it was too. But we had to keep our heads down as there was a foursome of crashng bores from the Home Counties over the aisle, or is it gangway on a boat? Anyway, they actually complained that on the hour long trip we hadn't seen a single chateau, and there had been one on the leaflet. The poor girl had to explain that the leaflet was for trips by the same company in various locations, this one had no chateaux. They were still chunnering about it, very loudly, an hour later in a cafe in the old town.

Then there are the boring ex-pats. Obviously not all of them are bad, we were with a great couple of ex-pats this week, but being sweepingly generalistic ex-pats are to be avoided comme le plague!

We met a couple this week, twenty years in the Dordogne, who still spoke as if they were the heroes who had colonised Mars rather than Eymet. Their big proof of assimilating was going to Catholic mass, even though Anglicans, it really gave them that French feeling. Bugger me, I've been going to mass for 50 years, I must be a Frenchman! They still moaned about the heat, and how cold it was in the winter. They moaned about the French breakfast cereal, but knew where to buy British. Of course they kept up with Eastenders on satellite and couldn't do without their Sunday morning fru ups. They were aghast that we weren't contemplating moving there for good. Why stay in England?

Now then, Eymet, a place only to be visited with a submachine gun and enough live rounds to obliterate all the ex-pats. There is even an ex-pat cricket team and every cafe table seems to have an obligatory retird colonel gobbing off to an ex-pat retired engineer about how things in Blighty are falling apart. Course colonel, we're just waiting for your coup so you can save us all, run up the flag at 6 00pm every night and raise your gin and tonic to Her Majesty, just how you do every night in Eymet.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. Ignore that self-knocking British bollocks too, usually by British people trying to be oh so Francais, about dress sense. It is definitely the Germans who are the worst dressed, closely followed by the Dutch with the French coming up on the rails. Give the British their due, sartorially we are currently way ahead but of course, the British love knocking themselves, don't they?!!

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