…where you didn’t expect it to be. I’ve just got back from a five-day trip to the UK which has left me speechless with surprise. I realise that after twenty-five years here and not many visits there, I have become rather used to the French way of life. Similarly, I’ve been brain-washed into thinking that we are fortunate enough to have the very best of everything.
Our trains are not! SNCF managed to make every train I took, including Eurostar, late. OK, they changed my tickets without a quibble and up-graded me to first class because they were short of space but that didn’t help my friend who had to spend two hours extra waiting for me at St. Pancras. On the way home my connection in Paris was cut so fine by delays that I had to do the half-mile sprint across the train station, only to find that my next train was also late and I could have stopped for a smoke and coffee. Grumpy otter!
Even over here, the British are renowned for their courtesy. I was, therefore, astounded to be addressed as “guys” by waiting staff. My friend was called “mate” which would have caused Badger to explode if he’d been there. I’m used to calling everyone Monsieur and Madame if I don’t know their name. It’s just good manners. What the hell happened to Sir and Madam? When did they stop talking English in the UK and start speaking American. I know it is because I’ve spent some pleasant holidays there and understand that their waiting staff have to virtually sit on one’s lap to ensure a decent tip.
I know I’m home now. I was sitting on the bench with my oldies when the district nurse came by. He drew up and called across “Medicine, time!” trying to attract his patient’s attention. It was down to me to explain to my short-sighted companions that it was Michel, the nurse and someone was at treatment time. He called across “Thanks, Elise” which is OK as he knows me very well. Not, you will notice, “Thanks, mate”. We both giggled and Therèse set off at a fast hobble to get home for her medication.
I remember why this is home now. It’s where I belong.