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  • June 30, 2015, 04:46:51 PM

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Author Topic: Watching the English.  (Read 1666 times)

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saki

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Re: Watching the English.
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2015, 06:00:47 AM »
I read it quite recently and really enjoyed it.  I read it on a flight to the US and I was really struck by the points she made about British humour - I travel a lot to the US and I hadn't realised the extent to which I instinctively censor myself when I want to give lightly humorous replies, etc, because I know that they aren't understood properly in the US>

But I did think that it could/should have said more about regional differences - e.g. she talks about how British people are really courteous about making sure that the next person is served in pubs and that is totally not my experience in London where, as a short woman, I can often wait a LONG time at a bar for a drink and people have no qualms about pushing past me.  Similarly, I know from living in other areas of the country that the rules around talking to strangers vary a lot - when I lived in the south-west of England, people were much friendlier, and when I lived in Scotland (admittedly that is out of scope for her book) strangers would spontaneously talk to me (which, as a Southerner, I found bizarre in the extreme.)

Barney girl

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Re: Watching the English.
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2015, 03:38:51 PM »
Yes, it's a couple of years since I read it. I remember enjoying, but feeling the Englush who were being watched were southern English.

It's surprising the difference in how willing people are to talk to each other. I remember going on a walking holiday in France. Our group leader had moved there a few years before and was praising the French way of life, saying that in England people wouldn't greet strangers walking through their village. All the time I was thinking - they would where I come from.

Thipu1

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Re: Watching the English.
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2015, 11:13:57 AM »
The English reluctance to engage strangers in conversation struck me as a little odd.  We're American and have traveled all over the UK.  Almost without exception, local people in both the north and south of England have been quite chatty and seemed to have a sincere interest in helping visitors.  We haven't been much in Wales but the Irish and the Scots were even more gregarious.   

Two Ravens

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Re: Watching the English.
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2015, 11:52:12 AM »
The English reluctance to engage strangers in conversation struck me as a little odd.  We're American and have traveled all over the UK.  Almost without exception, local people in both the north and south of England have been quite chatty and seemed to have a sincere interest in helping visitors.  We haven't been much in Wales but the Irish and the Scots were even more gregarious.

I remember an old joke: There were two Englishmen who were stranded on a desert island together for years, but they never spoke to each other, because they hadn't been properly introduced.  :D

saki

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Re: Watching the English.
« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2015, 02:47:55 AM »
The English reluctance to engage strangers in conversation struck me as a little odd.  We're American and have traveled all over the UK.  Almost without exception, local people in both the north and south of England have been quite chatty and seemed to have a sincere interest in helping visitors.  We haven't been much in Wales but the Irish and the Scots were even more gregarious.

I think it's about the context.  If you stop an English person on the street and ask for help with directions or whatever, they can be really helpful, because you had a specific reason for talking to them.  If you go over to an English person sat at a table in a pub and say "Hi, my name is Thipu, how are you doing?", you will make them extraordinarily uncomfortable.  Even if you do that at a party, you'll make them uncomfortable.  If you're trying to talk to an English person socially for the sake of talking, you do what she suggests in the book - you find something to 'accidentally' make conversation about, so you'll ask the person next to you at the bar what beer they'd recommend or comment on the weather or whatever. 

Lynn2000

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Re: Watching the English.
« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2015, 10:48:00 AM »
The English reluctance to engage strangers in conversation struck me as a little odd.  We're American and have traveled all over the UK.  Almost without exception, local people in both the north and south of England have been quite chatty and seemed to have a sincere interest in helping visitors.  We haven't been much in Wales but the Irish and the Scots were even more gregarious.

I think it's about the context.  If you stop an English person on the street and ask for help with directions or whatever, they can be really helpful, because you had a specific reason for talking to them.  If you go over to an English person sat at a table in a pub and say "Hi, my name is Thipu, how are you doing?", you will make them extraordinarily uncomfortable.  Even if you do that at a party, you'll make them uncomfortable.  If you're trying to talk to an English person socially for the sake of talking, you do what she suggests in the book - you find something to 'accidentally' make conversation about, so you'll ask the person next to you at the bar what beer they'd recommend or comment on the weather or whatever.

As an American, I'd find it rather weird to be eating my lunch and have a stranger come up and want to chat with me. Perhaps less so at a party where there's expected to be some level of mingling, but it's far smoother to go with, "Hey, that thing you're eating looks good, what is it?" than, "Hi, I'm Bob, let's be friends!"
~Lynn2000

Thipu1

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Re: Watching the English.
« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2015, 12:09:04 PM »
having a reason to engage a stranger in conversation seems almost universal.

I remember being in Inverness at a time when Mr. Thipu was very interested in single malt scotch.  We asked the barkeeper for suggestions but, because he was an employee, he couldn't offer any particular brands.    The patrons of the bar were of a different mind.  They had strong opinions and we learned a lot that evening.