Archive for April, 2010

Les photos

April 19, 2010

I did not manage to eat enough sweets.

The weather was perfect perfect perfect.

Nancy at the Louvre.

I like the reflection in the car window.

Nancy and me. On the balcony (!) of our hotel room.

Paris

April 19, 2010

I went to Paris this weekend with my friend Nancy.

Paris is still not my favorite city. But Nancy is one of my favorite people. And I do appreciate the things French people do with butter.

So I repressed my memories of my annus horribilis, got on the Eurostar, and sped off to France. (It turns out my memories of Paris really are repressed; I know Nancy from that year, and she kept asking if I “remembered the time” and I never did. The whole 9 months appear to have been shredded by a garbage disposal next to my hippocampus.)

Anyway, it was a great weekend. Fantastique. Merveilleuse. Chouette!

The only thing that would have made it better is if Suzanne had been there. Suzanne is American, a friend of mine and Nancy’s, and she lives in France near the Swiss border. She was supposed to come to Paris with us, but then Eyijafjallajokull started spewing ash and spoiling travel plans.

I think Eyijafjallajokull is a good name for a volcano. It sounds like an angry troll.

Honestly

April 19, 2010

The English are, as advertised, impeccably polite. Indeed, they’ll stoop to anything to avoid seeming rude – change the subject, speak in mumbles, or tell big fat whoppers.

Like the time I asked my movers if they’d mind unwrapping the furniture.

They said unfortunately, mumble, perhaps if I had arranged in advance, mumble, mumble. “Besides, we’ve another delivery… Must be on our way… Quite a journey.”

I said I understood, and gave them a nice tip anyway.

Suddenly, things changed. “Do you know, our next delivery is quite close!” said one. “Around the corner,” agreed another. And before I knew it, they’d done the very unwrapping which had been impossible 3 minutes before.

This was a classic English lie: kindly meant, and embarrassingly transparent.

“It’s no trouble.”

“I don’t mind at all!”

“The plumber’s coming round on Friday.”

This last is a favorite of Debbie, my building manager. I wonder what would happen if she told the truth.

“Obviously it would be nice if the plumber were to come Friday. But I have no intention of calling him until you nag me another dozen times by phone and email. Care for a cup of tea? I would. Goodbye.”

Please

April 15, 2010

Legend has it that the English are more polite than Americans. After a few months here, I’m afraid I can’t disagree. For one thing, they say “please” all the time.

“Could you hand me the stapler, please?”

“I’d like another Finger Cream, please.”

“May I have the prawn salad, please?”

You are probably thinking: “Well, I’m American, and I say please all the time.”

Please.

More often than not, we imply “please” with a friendly voice and a big smile. What we say is “I’ll have a shrimp salad.” Period.

(Some Americans actually say “I’ll do the shrimp salad” as though they are making a business decision, not a lunch decision. Wretch.)

But English people say please. And thank you. And sorry. And they’re always offering you tea: When someone at my office gets up to make tea for themselves, they ask if anyone else wants a cup. In America, that never happened.

Indeed, English people seem to regard both tea and politeness as universal salves – for overwork, boredom, bad weather, bad days and possibly world war.

It is a lovely attitude. Old-fashioned and somehow brave. Which makes it all the more surprising that the English are such committed liars.

Backwards

April 10, 2010

LA fog.

London sun.