Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Blame The French


Despite the fact that I now have dual citizenship (French & British), I am acutely aware that I am not 100% British yet. I get constant reminders of this and sometimes it can all become a bit too much. Here are a few examples:

“- Muriel, the UK can not continue to finance France agricultural politic! The UK needs to get out of the EU!” Blame the French…Well, what can I say, I live in London now and I don’t make the policies, do I?

“ No offence, but I once had a French flatmate who never had a shower! Can you believe it?” My interlocutor is looking at me for some sort of validation. He won’t get it.

“ I love the French: they know how to strike, don’t they?” Well, again, I won’t comment.

“Bloody French: they have increased taxes on secondary homes in France!” The guy is angry with me for some reason. Well, I have to pay the additional taxes too…But because I happen to be French, in his eyes, I am guilty as charged.

“ French women are so sexy. I love French actresses!” Thank you, I am flattered. That said, I have been living in London for a decade now.

What do you do when it all becomes too much? What can you do against stereotypes? The thing is, I am outnumbered. I can’t win and most of the time I don’t think that there is any point in fighting anyway. So here are my tips:

-       When under attack, I try to find a Scot to help me. You see, the Scots and the French have been allies for a long, long time. It was called the ‘Auld Alliance’ and some might argue that it is still in place. I can always count on a Scot to defend me in case of need. I wonder whether the Scots and the French are real friends or only want to present a united front against the English. Never mind, as long as it helps me, I will take it.

-       Fight back, but make it personal…”Come on: don’t be so bitter because you have been dumped by a French girlfriend. It happens to the best. Get over it!”

-       Whether they like it or not, it is highly likely that your interlocutor has some French ancestry. Or a French surname /name. They need to be reminded of this fact: “ Do you know that at least 3 millions of British have French blood? Given your name, I think that you are one of them”

-       I have the nuclear option: “I am British now, so don’t ask me?”

That said, whatever I say, I know that I can’t win against stereotypes. But here is one thing I know: nationality is not in our genes. My daughters are far more British than French. Go figure!


  1. I love the French language, and truly wish I was bilingual (though I would be speaking Canadian French).

  2. I was going to suggest you shrug and say "Well I'm British so don't look at me (for answers)", but you got there first.

    I find that going vague helps too. You make vague noises like you're in your own little world, look at the person and smile. They'll be so unnerved they'll probably change the subject. If they insist, bring out the I'm British card.

  3. If it's any consolation the Scots get stick for:having too much money (who wrote the Barnett Formula?); charging nobody except the English (even Scots who live in England) for university tuition (we have to pay too we live in England); Alec Salmond and Margaret Ewing (I didn't vote them in). Yet half the kilts at weddings are worn by men who haven't got further than Murrayfield :)

  4. It's simple, Muriel. When person 1 makes his complaint.ask him why he has not insured that the UK is out of the EU? After all, he IS British.
    Person 2- one flatmate doth not a whole country make. I've met many a British soul who follows the same hygienic routine. etc.

  5. Sometimes, when faced with stereotypes of my 'tribe', I go for the gusto: 'do you have a problem with Jews?' It usually works.

  6. I kind of struggle the same way as a Filipino living in the US. It's actually worse for me, I think, as I find that a lot of people are so ignorant as to either lump all Asians together, or just stupidly assume that Asian = Chinese, hence I'm Chinese to them. How smart isn't it? Annoying!!

  7. Lucylastica25 July 2013 07:00

    I struggle sometimes just being a Northern girl living in the South of England. Just be yourself - seems to be the best answer!

  8. I am sure it is. that said, it means that I always -ALWAYS- get the same comments & jokes.

  9. It is indeed annoying but we can't do much about it. We just have to go with the flow I suppose.

  10. Well, no later than yesterday I tried it and I got an historical lecture on the Waterloo battle. I can't win.

  11. I am trying hard, Roy, I am trying hard. That said, I have come to the conclusion that it is better not to fight against stereotypes. It is a battle I can't win.

  12. In short, wherever you are from, you get teased. Sigh. We can't win, can we?

  13. I think that I am just going to ignore such comments, as if I were hard of hearing. Frankly, I have had enough for a lifetime.

  14. You are such a Francophile ! I love French literature, but I have to say that I find the French language even more difficult now that I have lived out of France for the best part of a decade!