Tag Archives: conversations

Awkward Conversations with Foreign People

tea-cup1

Hello, reader!  How’s the world treating you today?

One of the best things about living in England is the mutliculturalism.  (What makes it even better is that every time someone says that, Nigel Farage gets a stabbing pain behind his eye.  I have absolutely no evidence to back that up, but you never know…)  This is particularly relevant in London: did you see the re-imagined tube map showing the languages spoken in different parts of London?  Here it is.  How cool is that?!

I don’t understand why UKIP, racists and other generic twats get their knickers in such a twist about British identity.  Firstly, other nationalities have all sorts of beautiful, fascinating and useful things to teach us, as evidenced by all the purloined objects in the British Museum.  If we didn’t think that foreign stuff was cool, we wouldn’t have nicked it in the first place.  Secondly, we’ve kept all the Britishness we’ll ever need.  Seriously, we have.  There are certain British values which to this day remain undiluted, unwavering and inexplicable to people from elsewhere.  Our identity as a nation and our global reputation rest upon these unshakeable pillars of completely peculiar principles.  Here are some examples of things which we Brits are totally fine with, but which we find difficult to explain to people from other countries:

Bonfire Night
“About four hundred years ago, a bloke with a bit of a chip on his shoulder tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, so now we burn effigies of him.”
“And this is a happy time?”
“Oh, yes.  Fireworks, fairground rides, family outings.  All good fun.”
“You celebrate a four-hundred year-old terrorist attack.”
“…Well, yes.  But it’s a failed terrorist attack, if that helps.”

Queueing
“You just stand in the line?”
“You just stand in the line.”
“What if you’re in a hurry?”
“You have to wait.”
“What if you need the toilet?”
“You wait.”
“What if your feet get pins and needles?!”
“You just wait.”
“What if somebody jumps the queue?”
“Ah, well that’s different!  In that case, you TUT.”
“Yeah?”
Very loudly.  And then you carry on waiting.”

Why Tea is So Important
“It just is.”
“But why?”
“It’s traditional.  It’s English.”
“It’s Chinese, actually.”
“Yes, alright, but we like it over here, too!  It’s comforting!”
“How so?”
“Because it’s…hot?”
“So is coffee.”
“Yes, but…”
“And hot chocolate.  Hence the name, ‘hot’ chocolate.”
“Yes, but you wouldn’t find the queen serving hot chocolate to her guests at Windsor, would you?  She’d serve tea.”
“She’d serve coffee to the Americans, I think.”
“Perhaps.”
“And actually, I don’t think she’d be serving it.  I think she has staff to do that.”
“I’m not having this conversation.  Go and put the kettle on.”

Talking About the Weather
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, comment upon the weather.”
“Why?”
“Because weather is the ONLY thing that you can talk about with absolutely anyone at all, without needing any prior knowledge of them as a person.  Unlike religion, politics, current affairs, art and literature, talking about the weather doesn’t involve having an opinion or risk offending someone else.  It’s an excellent way to start or maintain a conversation with someone by purely stating empirical, uncontroversial facts. No one can argue with ‘nice day today, isn’t it?'”
“If you don’t want to talk to someone about their opinions or discuss interesting topics, why on earth are you talking to them?”
“…I have no idea.”

Sarcasm
“So you’re saying one thing, but you mean the opposite.”
“Yeah.  It’s a type of humour.”
“But why do you need it?  Why can’t you just say what you mean, like America does?”
“Oh yeah, because British people would love to be more like America.”
“Really?”
“NO.  THAT WAS SARCASM.”

So there you have it: the British identity in a nutshell.  Obviously those are all a bit silly, but you know what I mean: we’re a pretty odd bunch, and our identity as a nation isn’t going anywhere.  We are the affable, slightly strange grandfather at the global dinner table, and we’re ok with that.  We also need to be ok with other cultural identities, even if they seem strange to us.  Bearing that in mind, could somebody take Farage’s toys away and send him to his room?  No dessert for intolerant eejits, I’m afraid.

Have an amazing Tuesday!

Sarcastickled: Blog Tour

Good morning, darling reader.  How goes the world with you?

My dear and hilarious friend Laura Lexx asked me to join in a “blog tour” where I talk about me and my writing stuff.  Her blog can be read here.  It’s being passed round bloggers who love each other. Lovely idea, no?  There are 4 questions that need answering.  Let’s do this.

What Am I Working On?

Er…that’s an awkward question.  It brings out the Sunday evening, guilt-ridden “OH GOD I HAVE NOT DONE MY HOMEWORK” side of me that inevitably makes me feel slightly grumpy.  In real terms, I am working on my film script for the Sky version of Chris is Dead, which is also a play which will be on in Edinburgh from 1st-9th August.  Do come and see it.

How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?

It doesn’t.  My genre is a richly populated and well-fuelled arena that positively throngs with lively discussion and worthy conversation.  The things I have to say are just louder and more grammatically correct, that’s all.

Why Do I Do What I Do?

I’ve always liked words as a means of connecting with people, and although I tried to be a “proper” grown up who works nine to five for a living, I discovered quite quickly that it doesn’t suit me.  There are all manner of other complicated and boring reasons why I write, but at the heart of things I do it because it makes me happy, and because I want it to make YOU happy.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I get up, I frown at the kettle, I sit at my desk and I write down the first thing that I have an opinion about.

No, really, I take ideas from television, conversations with friends, etc., and then I tend to scribble a load of nonsense onto whichever surface is nearest (up to and including my own arm).  After that I try to make some sense out of the notion before I subject you, my lovely reader, to the inevitable nonsense.  I like writing so much because it doesn’t really matter what my process is: the end result is that you laugh, smile, cry or get angry.  I hope.  I genuinely don’t care how you feel about what I say, as long as you feel something.  Apathy is the enemy of everything we hold dear, including Crunch Corners and student discounts.

I will be recommending the marvellous Fran Paterson for taking this on next. Her blog is here.