Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Ex-Pats.


I was reminded by a friend recently that the very words 'Ex Pat' conjure up pictures of braying retirees, sipping gins and tonic, whilst filling-in the crossword of a week-old copy of The Times through a be-monocled eye. And, of course, his picture is absolutely correct; we're all exactly like that!

Ex-Pats tend to be viewed suspiciously by the natives of their chosen anchorage. They often speak little of the language (just enough to order their gins and tonic), have no interest in local culture, and build up huge circles of English-speaking chums; regardless of suitability.

I'm often asked by fellow Englishmen 'Do you know Bingo and Fizzy or Rupert and Bunty?'. Of course I don't, and I'm always dying to reply by asking 'Do you know Fran├žois and Jeannette?', but my question would be as pointless as theirs.

There are many reasons why people chose to live abroad; top of the list is probably the combination of limited finance and anticipated superior lifestyle. Personally I'm pleased to say that I'm here simply because I LOVE France, and it was always an ambition of mine to settle here since my first visit aged about 10. However, I quite expect that most just come for the croissants and cheap wine; and why not?

Gaston; I'll ave my jeen-tonique now please. CHEERS.

19 comments:

  1. I can be sitting in a French cafe watching the world go by and I just cringe when I hear that English bray! Why are a certain class of ex-pats so loud?

    We bought our French house (nearly 15 years ago) because we loved the beautiful rural countryside, the solitude, and the warmth of the local people. We are the only English people in our hamlet and our neighbours are kind and generous and tolerate our execrable attempts at their language. I think we get on with them because we have a lot in common – drinking wine and growing veg!

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    1. I'm sure you must have experienced Prayssac market in the Summer... dreadful... braying at its worst.

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  2. That's exactly the place I was thinking of!

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    1. We once came across a big kilt-wearing man, shouting about how the French knew nothing about Asparagus... we ran and hid.

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  3. I too have wanted to live in France since my first visit there aged 15, ditto Keith, but we haven't managed it yet.
    Watch that monocle - it will play havoc with the wrinkles round your eye. ;)

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  4. Reminds me of the German tourists who could not get service in a French bar when ordering Martinis. They storm out, but return the next day intent on speaking French. The man asks the waiter, "Deux Martini." The waiter asks, "Dry?" Than man shouts, "NEIN! - ZWEI!"

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  5. Having just finished watching a Johnathan Meades series about France and the French (warts and all) I would still love to live out there.

    I can't speak the language but I do have a beret (like yours) and I can pout my lower lip and shrug my shoulders, hands upturned.

    Just need to get myself a matelot shirt and string of onions and voila! (Ooh I CAN speak French after all!)

    Tres bon. (Merde, I've done it again!)

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  6. Croissants and cheap wine - my kind of place. I'll be packing my bags soon.

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  7. I'm an expat myself, though I speak the language. Whether or not I'm fully integrated is questionable :)

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    1. I suffer from the terrible British illness of not being able to get myself to speak the lingo!
      strange eh>
      especially as I will give Welsh a go!

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    2. good for you JG...I remember walking through Caernarfon talking to my children and getting told off by an "ex-pat" for not talking in English...

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  8. Never have lived anywhere but the US however I find the idea intriguing. My own accent would probably be less welcomed than the charming English one!

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  9. Tom S, i love your sense of humour!

    I lived in France for a year (University study abroad programme), and was most reluctant to return home. Friends of mine were visiting, an older couple (i was then 20), and we went out for dinner. The man decides he's going to order for us, which was then very much the norm even if it seems strange now, but he can't speak a word of French. The waiter decides he's not going to try and help out at all, so Chuck speaks more slowly and much more loudly. I wanted to sink under the table. I finally say, "Chuck, the waiter isn't deaf, he simply doesn't understand English."

    At this, the waiter smiled, so it was as i suspected: he DID know at least some English. I quickly translated what Chuck had tried to order, and the rest of the meal went on without incident.

    megan

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    1. My father was like that... I think a lot of fathers were.

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  10. When we went on our tour(I know.. you just get to see all the bits that are advertised and not the real place..) but all the same at least we got to see something..almost the whole bus except an old fellow named John,they would all go oooh and ahh and the holiday brochure secenery and he had been to Europe many times before so he would grab my arm and drag me to little houses and little chapels and spots where the elderly of the villages sat and chatted their mornings away,hence my phots of my trip are the wonderful craggy faces,potted plants around old doorways,smiles of toothless and happy people,in Monaco the bus stopped at a lookout and they watched a huge ocean liner come in,John pointed to me of a beautiful old chap standing at his door,he had a beret on,and saluted to me,we went down to him and I asked in sign langue if I could take his photo in his doorway, Cro I feel like I did not see lots of what the others saw but I saw the real people of the different countries,the same in Paris,I just people watched as others climbed the tower...ahh but the Aussie accent at times makes people cringe too...so it is not just the English..bit off track there sorry.

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  11. so, as an ex-pat, did you apply for citizenship? Do you now have dual citizenship?

    Seems like a precarious existence, living in another land, but that's my own insecurity speaking. You seem to have adjusted very well indeed.

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    1. Citizenship is not really an issue in the EU. We can live wherever we like. When I first moved here I was obliged to have a 'residence permit', but even that is unnecessary now.

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  12. 'Allo! 'Allo! Listen carefully - I will say this only once! "The moon is made of green cheese tonight!"

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  13. Hi... not sure how I've come across you, through various links in various blogs I expect. I have loved what I have read, laughed out loud, and smiled , full of empathy for lots of your words! I have loved France for decades and finally , husband and me, bought a house near Carcassonne last September. We're living between Caunes Minervois and West Yorkshire, as we are cowards and cant cope with the idea of abandoning our children and grandchildren completely. So far, so good, and am looking forward to spending 4 out of the next 5 months....in Caunes. I will be calling back here, to see how you are doing. best wishes
    Janice

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