Very honest and honest reportage Mary, moves the conversation on in a delightfully personal and supportive way. As usual.
Good analysis Pete, well put!
Thanks, Bill. I can always rely on you pull me back from the brink when I’m tottering on the edge, and give me a kindly pat on the head when I come to what pass for my senses (on a good day)
If I didn’t appreciate wott you have to say, I would say so Mate
Moving to France is a courageous step, I reckon, and the challenges it presents to some, perhaps many or most, is sometimes overlooked in the sheer intoxication of it all, or so it sometimes seems to me.
But some contributions have been raw, and painful to read. Since we’ve been here we’ve become aware that trying to start a new life, or write a new chapter, in a foreign country has, for many if not ourselves, been an expensive mistake, and a dream shattered.
The French don’t much refer to the people who have had to retrace their steps when it all went wrong, but I sense a wariness in the relationship some local people have to the anglais, a kind of ‘hope for the best but expect the worst’ watchfulness in neighbours, who don’t miss much, and obviously converse amongst themselves about us (it’s human to do so, and not at all disagreeable; on the contrary, it’s a comfort).
I’ve felt very disoriented at times since arriving three years ago, and at times disempowered to the point of childishness, and clumsiness. In part it’s the language, which doesn’t come easily to my lips, I feel very self-conscious at times, although much less so in recent months. I can’t account for the shift, though. Except to say that the people have mainly stopped looking or sounding French!
Has anyone else had that feeling🤔?
And the surprise at not finding the steering wheel when I open the drivers-side car door. That has gone too.
But I’ m only making baby steps. My wife has not yet got beyond the very basics of Bonjour and merci beaucoup, but she smiles and has a natural assuredness that people like and warm to. Being African people seem to assume that she is francophone, there are vanishingly few black ‘anglais’ in Normandy. But no overt or covert racism, which is a nice change.
However my increasing confidence in French, and my ability to converse fairly freely with locals does leave her feeling at a disadvantage, and me uncomfortable at times. Having to act as interpreter is awkward, and with the added risk of saying the wrong thing.
Anyway, these are some of the tensions many folk experience, but one has to work out ones own solutions, and the effort is not inconsiderable, the strain unforeseeable, and the issues seldom aired.
I’d be interested to have the comments of others.
I know that Bill. It helps.
I don’t suffer many of the issues you expound Pete, been pretty well accepted here, in our bit of Brittany, even before Babeth and I got together, my French is ‘basic’, but I find a smile goes a long, long way towards compensating for that.
You got speed-reading off to a fine art, Marra.
I cannot put my finger on exactly when it happened… but I found I was thinking in French … instead of English…
That’s when I knew I had “arrived”…
Some achievement, Stella!
For some inexplicable reason, I sometimes think in German. I have no idea why. I learned German at school nearly 70 years ago, and never visited Germany until Icwas 50+. Germans have told me I speak German with a strong Bavarian accent.
I do wonder about ‘other lives’ sometimes. Do you?
Ha ha… no other lives for me… this one is quite enough…
Same for me in Portugese Stella, and when I could tell a joke, and they laughed sadly all gone now!
I have an intuition you may return as a gypsy fortune teller, Stella, with a crystal ball, or a Hexe with a pointy hat and a cupboard full of magic charms… That full moon just popped up!
We did German at school too Pete, our teacher, very boring, obsessed with the grammer, never taught us to communicate anything though, and had a very unfortunate 'tash and beard, poor Lass, which didn’t help us to concentrate either
My neighbours in Nordrhein-Westfalen told me that I would have great trouble understanding the Bavarians speaking every time I headed off to southern Germany for a summer holiday or a ski trip. They wouldn’t believe that, to me, the Bavarians’ speech was much easier to understand than that of my home area. Mind you I never did get used to Grüß Gott.
My Eurika moment in French was when I realised that I was understanding a TV programme without going through the mental process of translating everything into English. A really good step forward as watching a TV is no longer exhausting.
May I also talk about the “old” days on the forums.
I always wanted to share my moments of magic whilst living in London
and that I noticed opportunities and adventures there to be enjoyed.
London was every thing I ever wanted it to be and every one was there
sharing my life.
Possibly many people from rural lEngland could not understand this?
0r, perhaps I found the right things at the right time.
So when I came here I wanted to recall and and carry on doing some of the
things which were from my past in London.
I wanted others to join in enjoy some activities and events. I wanted some participation and
team spirit. But I was greeted with opposition.
However , at last I have managed to find a way to do exactly what I enjoy…what we both are good at.So it is never too late.
Oh dear that was badly written. I can see the mistakes.
But you understood.
Ah, thought you’ve had a few sherries