Friday, October 24, 2008


Generally speaking, living abroad has taught me that a lot of our ideas about other nationalities have more than a grain of truth to them. The Chinese really can be rude, abrupt and money-obsessed; Czechs rarely smile until they've sunk at least five beers (and don't ever get them started on the Roma); the Korean temper is as hot as their food; Italians flirt with every woman except their mother and still think it's cool to wear sunglasses indoors (I swear in five months in Sicily I never once saw my landlady's eyes).

My current hosts, like our own island race, can be insufferably clannish and chauvanistic about their culture, and while they don't like sumo all that much, they do lap up karaoke, fall asleep on overcrowded trains (sometimes while they're standing), get pissed on two beers and will only when backed into the very tightest of tight corners ever say the dreaded word no.

The Japanese stereotype of us? I got my students to shout out some words: bowler hat, English gentleman, afternoon tea, checked clothes, Peter Rabbit, pickpockets, tall, good at football, and (with the aid of an electronic dictionary) reserved women.

Clearly, they've never been to the Bigg Market on a Saturday. Or St James' Park.

1 comment:

this too will pass said...

lucky them, missing the Bigg Market experience