Tuesday, March 4, 2008

And On That Note; Polly Leaves...

Yesterday's post really made me think. I didn't mean to sound as though I was having a good old fashioned moan, I was really extolling the virtues of France,(most of) its people and our ill feted holiday. Optimism will almost always triumph over adversity and we did well and truly make the best of our unexpected stay...

I met only five 'persons' who could be described as unpleasant, or impolits. The first of these were the charmant occupants of a mini which casually drove into the already damaged backside of our car. This occurred a matter of metres from the site of the previous nights incident, on the same roundabout at a different exit. Overwrought from the whole episode I hopped out of the car and began to lambaste its three occupants.

My French language skills may well leave a lot to be desired; but my reading of body language and intonations has been perfected over the past forty years, or so. I can recognize barely contained aggression and words approximating to:

"!*@% off home back to Wherever-you-came-from and claim off your insurance, your car is already damaged, you shouldn't be driving on the road! Blah, blah, blah, et cetera..."

Needless to say I managed to control most of my pent up emotions, but I did give these three a thorough tongue lashing which was well deserved. Following this I jumped straight back into my car, had a good shake and burst into tears, as any self respecting Anglaise should under such circumstances.

That of course leads me straight into to the conversation a few days later; in the tiny village of St Jouen, where the local doctor hangs out. Whilst waiting for my new prescription for ginormous horse pill sized antibiotics (to combat my streptococcal throat infestation) a gentleman approached me.

He knew that I wasn't French; he told me so. How? I was gazing into the estate agents window and only holiday makers did things like that, so there! The tone of the subsequent conversation was heated by the lunch time consumption of what smelt like a glass or two of red wine and went something like this:

"Anglais en Angleterre. Francais en France!"

"Ah, oui Monsieur, mais je suis

And with this he became my new best friend!

For those of you whose French is well and truly corroded, he
told me that the English should stay in England and leave France for the French!

When I announced my Irishness and the man became twice as friendly. Despite everything the sentiment he
expressed is not unco
mmon. He was personable throughout and we even laughed at the outrageous price of real estate, the cost of living etc.

It would appear that no self respecting Francais could afford the prices in the window and without a doubt ex-pat Anglais are the culprits. Obviously this gentleman of age was experiencing life through jaundiced eyes; but we parted on good terms with an understanding of how village life varies little around the globe.

My third encounter with les impolis was on a shopping trip to Cora. I had spotted a pair of large, silver hoops on the jewellery counter; I don't mean huge; nothing larger than a demur half inch circle is usually acceptable. Obviously the young lady who served me so hautily considered that these were indeed beneath her sensibil
ities and the realm of Chav's. Ah well it takes all sorts, doesn't it?

Most of us will have experienced similar events at some time in our lives, but, for some reason we tend to remember them better when they occur on foreign soils. Were these the highlights of our holiday?

Or is it that these few experiences were so few and far between? On our own turf exchanges of this type are often very unpleasant, resulting in a certain type of rancour which unfortunately lingers.

Only this morning, while searching for a spot in the council pay & park I was lambasted in and out of the ground by a gentleman who while accusing me of ignorance, clearly forgot his own manners as he shouted at me from the comfort of his four wheel drive vehicle.

My response to his attack on me was to question him whether or not he should really address his wrath to the person who was taking up the two spaces I had parked across? Quite clearly he bellowed

"...that does not give you the right to park there and ignorance was on your part..."

My response?

"Perhaps so..."

The man of course was quite correct in his complaint, especially considering that I was double parked. The fact that there was more than enough room for two lanes of traffic pass me by remains beside the point; I had no right to park there.

I had done it deliberately, with my hazard lights flashing, in a feeble attempt to excuse my own behaviour; I blocked in the Renault parked across two spaces. Apparently I was not the first to complain about it, but rather than rant or rave I chose to act and left a note.

Although written on part of a brown paper bag the note enquired politely if the driver had paid for the two spaces concerned; suggesting that if I was still parked behind them upon their return they should try either Wild Harvest or The Office Shop. What's more I signed it, so that they could ask for me by name and in total I was there for maybe five minutes...

My final comment on the behaviour of others, and my own misdemeanours, is to ask which would you prefer? To be shouted at by a coward hiding behind the armour plated door of a four x four, or a polite note...? LOL

Answers on a postcard in the comments box please!

Polly Peirce x

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