Us Brits love peering down our glasses at our Continental neighbours and sniggering at the striped t-shirt beret wearing Frenchman. It’s part of what makes us British – the ability to mock anyone who eats frogs legs.
However, in my time in France, I have noticed that there are some things that the French may do better. Disagree? Read on!
We know that the French president Hollande did the naughty on the First Lady. He scooted around on a motorbike and entered apartment buildings with his helmet still on his head.
He was having an AFFAIR with an actress. AFFAIR. Such a word pricks English ears/eyes instantly.
If anything happened to David Cameron or the Royal family then we would be nudging each other with a *wink wink* or going “what a scandal! I HAVE to know about this by rushing to the nearest news outlet.” Even the BBC and all the other news channels would report it.
But not the French. They have strict privacy laws which forbid any nosey mosey into the lives of les peuples.
Long leisurely lunches
Lunch break means a lunch break in France.
While us Brits scoff a sarnie while simultaneously surfing the net, the French take their vouchers – which are part-funded by their company – and go off to restaurants for leisurely two hour lunches. Or they head to the canteen for a full three course meal!
It can grate on you when you need to do your banking, because even the banks have their lunch too. On the plus side, you may realise you are properly refreshed afterwards.
Most French people work a 35 hour week which means there’s absolutely no rush with lunch. As one says, Prenez votre temps…or, take your time. More time for entering apartment buildings with helmets on then.
While we head down to the pub after work to bash out a work issue over a pint, the French like their conferences. While we have practical gatherings on issues such as Access to Work, I’ve attended conferences with topics that are simply fascinating!
Topics range from the role of the deaf woman at the turn of the 19th century to a spiel on how deaf journals have evolved.
I’ve heard about Eugène Rubens-Alcais and how he enabled 35 British to attend the 1924 Deaflympics and conference delegates have been known to trapeze through cemeteries to find the giant copper head in homage to Rubens.
Their conferences are like a fine wine – rich, full-bodied and something which slides easily down the throat.
Some of us know the story of Abbé l’Epée and how he found two deaf twin girls and set up the world’s first free school for the deaf in the 1760’s.
The French value their history and can reel off in sequential order how their sign language evolved from the heart of Paris all the way across the Atlantic to America.
Meanwhile, I have yet to meet a young British Deaf person who knows who Dorothy Miles was.
Langue des Signes Français
I’m not dissing BSL – each language to its own and all that. But my god, LSF is beautiful. Take for example, when we want to say that we have a lot on our mind, we might sign “my brain full” or “me think lot!”
Have a look at the LSF sign for “I have a lot on my mind.”
This is not a Britain vs France kind of thing. We have the Royal family while the French are still pining after their beheaded King.
But just perhaps, like the French, we could take some time to ponder the finer points in life. While biting into a gooey Brie.
By Amanda Everitt – views are her own. To read more about sign language, literacy and technology check out Amanda’s blog here or follow @playbyeye
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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