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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

RR being nasty (Not so nasty - L)

I conclude there's only one cast-iron reason for going on holiday: to speak French to natives.

For this I concede a perfectly contrived bed with equally perfect bedside lights, a proper (ie, desktop) computer, superior music reproduction, the best telly programmes in the world, access to the world's best wines, three normally unoccupied loos, two weekly singing lessons, temperate weather, a garage to house my car.

Granted France has satisying countryside but then so does nearby Wales. And how long can you look at a scene? There's also the chance of having blanquette de veau and/or stuffed cabbage for a lunch costing less than  €12 but the odds are lengthening, more often it's pizza, pizza, pizza.

A holiday suggests indulgence which also hints at selfishness. That's me. One attraction about speaking French is that most other Brits can't. I belong to an elite even if hardly anyone else cares. I care and I'm warmed by exclusivity. I suppose this is how billionaires feel except they've merely got cash, I've got something I nurtured.

What's more I'm cruel with it. In the pharmacy I see Brits, pitifully dressed in holidayish clothes, struggling to order an unguent that'll cure them of the runs. I go in, make the pharmacienne laugh (Hard to do, I can tell you.) and I sense British resentment. Sense it and feed on it.

I occurs to me that most Brexiteers probably don't speak French. That they've risked economic chaos in effect to widen the Channel. Is it wrong of me to behave so vindictively? After all as Brits we're all destined to live in rags in an international version of Carey Street. 


  1. Come now, RR, that's you being nasty? I've heard you be nastier than that about the pharmaciennes, though I suspect that may in part be to tease me, as I consider them to be among the warmest, most charming, most helpful people in the world. Truly.

    We also now have the best fish and chips here, it's true, though I rather doubt the Faragistas would acknowledge it. So great has the craze for this delicacy become in France - and always billed entirely in English, including the 'and' - that there is even now a take-away van for them outside Leroy Merlin at weekends. Also possibly a milder climate, though not dissimilar to Wales in this particular region, a fact of which you over there might be envious when your heating bills shoot through the roof on account of the effect of the plummeting exchange rate on your imported fuel. The UK had better come to terms with fracking sooner rather than later I reckon. I shall at least have the cold comfort of schadenfreude about this while feeling fairly well warmed by nuclear power and free wood in exchange for a maize field, even if we can't afford to go out for fish and chips or drink anything more exotic than a Lidl wine box.

    How many times do I have to tell you not to get me started?

  2. Lucy: Re. the Green Cross ladies - it's clearly a gender-based conspiracy.

    I always thought Leroy Merlin was in the bricolage business, I'm clearly out of touch. I refuse to discuss weather other than to say Colwall has always been more meteorologically benign than Béziers when we've been on holiday in the past. Next year even more so since we shall be going in July/Aug in order not to perturb Zach's skool teachers,

    But you say nothing about my main point, the feeling of inter-galactic superiority that comes from being a Brit able to employ le subjonctif, preferably in the hearing of other less-favoured Brits and always under the most mundane of circumstances (eg, ten minutes before lunch-break at Super U). Gosh, one says to oneself, I've worked hard for this and it's worth every drop of sweat. And it's a guiltless joy; the others deserve their ignominy.

    Luce, you start easy, just like my new car.

  3. I definitely have language envy! Had my world turned another way years ago, I would have studied French at university. Instead I studied life in New Zealand.. C'est la Kiwi!

  4. Blonde Two: I can't feel sorry for you since I'm convinced, au fond, you're boasting. "Studied life in NZ" - I mean it's hardly an education one would have to apologise for, is it? In fact this may be your way of being nasty; NZ-educated Brits may be an even smaller (ie, therefore more elite) group than French-speakers. So welcome to the Nasty Club where we fight among ourselves in petty competition. Bet you haven't read Der Mann Ohne Eigenschaften - note how I mention its German title, implying I read the German original. It's that kind of club!

    Nor am I fooled by "I definitely have language envy!" since I see in it a subtle attempt to set my achievement at nought. A bit like saying "I've seen your Home Page pic and I envy you your ugliness."

    Reckon you've got the moxie to be an active member of the Nasty Club? I do hope so. We're thinking of endowing a nastiness scholarship at Poole University, formerly a poly.

  5. Funny, RR. I thought you were an aficionado of the "Corbyn" party. Yet here you are not only joining, but encouraging the "nasty" one!

  6. 'Moxie' now that is a useful one. What I actually officially 'studied' in New Zealand was touch typing. One of the most useful skills I have ever gained!

    PS Will work on the 'nasty' but it isn't going to come easy!

  7. Avus: You're one step behind Lady Bountiful. At the end of this year's Tory party conference she essayed a joke (and she doesn't do many). Having suggested at a previous conference that some people saw the Tories as the nasty party (Would that it was only nastiness they were capable of!) she ended up this year announcing that it was now Labour's turn to be thought of as nasty. If you've ever wished for a wordless definition of sycophancy, Tory party mass laughter admirably fills that gap.

    As I've shown above my Nasty Club is anti-bland, seeks to be inventively nasty and we welcome foreigners (so we can talk to them in their own lingo). Big differences.

  8. Blonde Two: Fascinated to imagine someone as active as you merely "studying" touch-typing. No doubt you went on to a post-grad where you actually depressed the keys. I realise I chose "moxie" thinking of you; yes I'll reaffirm you definitely have moxie, a word that only got halfway across the Atlantic in an easterly direction.

    Why not start signing your letters: Blonde (With Added Moxie) or BWAM. Both suit.

  9. Well yes, Leroy Merlin is a DIY store, and have never to my knowledge had a food outlet outside. The store is frequented by a large number of Brits, it's true, so perhaps the vendor's van was hoping to snag some of these, but if so their timing is a bit out, I imagine Brexit will deal a mighty blow to LM's business, which is one aspect I won't be shedding any tears about, they are an awful shop but often the only resort.

    Did you know I once lived and worked in Colwall? I was an assistant matron (nanny) at the Downs Prep School when I was nineteen, the same school Auden taught at as a young man, he was in one of the pre-war school photos in the hall. I arrived just after Easter and was immediately snowed in for several days. Lovely place in many ways though.

    I have often done the superiority-over-other-Brits-because-I-can-speak-French thing, but the trouble is it can backfire on you in a number of ways (or two ways really: I make some laughable and/or incomprehensible cock-up or the other Brit turns out to speak it far better than I do) so I generally try to resist it now.

  10. You know that Velcro is hooks and loops, yes?

  11. Lucy: I chose Colwall for exactly that reason though I didn't realise you'd been a nanny there. Do you include it in your blog profile? You should. These days fashionable writers shrink their CVs down to almost nothing (I mean: Lives in London, it might as well be Citizen of the World. Which, according to Lady Bountiful, my ironic sobriquet for our current PM, is the equivalent of Citizen of Nowhere.).

    Thurber was different; he took advantage of the back page of his Penguin editions with a CV that showed he was a comic writer (eg, "Likes to argue a lot but some people just walk away."). He also included jobs he hadn't held. I can't remember the full list but a sampling may be enough: "He hasn't been... a horse wrangler... or a short-order cook."

    Nanny would be a gift for a Thurberesque CV. "... and, as a result, now prefers children seethed in milk."

    I'm sorry you've withdrawn from flaunting your Frenchy skills. Time for me to slip across the Channel, take you to lunch in the Breton equivalent of the Blogger's Retreat, get you drunk in the approved fashion (a shared bottle of champagne then litres of Kingfisher beer until whoever is cowardly shouts Nay). Giggling and newtlike we shuffle off to the flittering Green Cross and await our pinkly sunburned prey.

    MikeM: Hey, great minds think alike. Which of us thought up our own Nasty Club first? It's a cruel blow you've dealt me but as president/founder of the Hereford chapter I must expect others to be nasty to me. Remember the Devil's punishment of Lola in Damn Yankees: "By this afternoon I expect you to think up three dirty tricks. And they'd better be good."