It’s a thoughtful and challenging question, Tracey.
More and more I realise what my own behaviour will represent my country of origin to the local people who see me (and what I do, the state of my car, the way I walk about, what I have in my shopping caddy etc), and the minority with whom I speak in limited French.
I represent Englishness (Anglicité?), and I probably confirm some of their negative stereotypes of that, without my knowing it.
I’ve learned along the way that it pays to tell local people that I really like their produce, their cheese, their doughy maize bread (something of a speciality?) and their odd meaty bits (like the pork kidneys and curious lamb-heart fritters).
That brings genuine smiles to French faces, people do like to be approved of.
Last night my wife and I attended a concert of chamber music in a gorgeous local church. A performance by a wind quintet from the Normandy Regional Orchestra, and a young woman, ado even, who played the harp with virtuosos brilliance.
Arrangements of lovely pieces by Debussy, another early 20th century French composer’s incidental music to (Masque de la Mort Rouge by Edgar Allan Poe), and Tchaïkovski’s Swan Lake and Casse-Noisette.
I think my wife and I were possibly the only Anglais present amongst about 80, as our shared murmurs (to each other) of appreciation in English led to much head-turns and smiles from surrounding members the audience, so much so that we turned to look if there was something behind us attracting attention. But no, only the curtained confessional!
Berlina asked, “Why doesn’t England offer such fantastic events to small communities?”. Are they barbarians?