Sunday, October 15, 2006


I have been known to complain an awful lot, from time to time, about the extremely hard life I have to lead. I was watching a documentary about Brazilian street kids the other week and, I tell you, I was muttering to myself 'oh yeah, you think you've got it hard, begging for food and dodging police bullets, but you just try writing a doctoral thesis - oho yes, then you'll know hardship my little friends'. Every once and a while, though, I realise how just privileged this lifestyle (yuck) can be. I was at a little gathering (yuck) last night at which 15 people were present and amongst those 15 there were people from 11 different nationalities - British, Italian, French, Chinese, Greek, Polish, Mexican, Nigerian, Korean, Pakistani and a (rather tipsy) Turkish Cypriot. You just wouldn't get that anywhere else but at a university. Or at airport customs.

I learned a couple of interesting things from the French guy by the way, which I insist on sharing with you. I had always assumed that the French nickname for the English - 'le ros bif' - was an English fabrication. I thought that it was just rather too polite and affectionate for a real derogatory term. I thought that it was probably just what the English told each other about what the French called them - the real term being too horrid to admit. It turns out, however, that it is true - that's really what the French call the English when they are being rude. Secondly - and this is the biggie - according to my French chum the stereotypical view of the English character amongst the French is not, as we imagine, one of a cold, aloof, sexually repressed lot, avoiding each others' eyes and saying 'sorry' a lot. Apparently, the French regard the English as much more sexually liberated than the French themselves. I was pretty surprised by this. Maybe he was just being nice or something. It's true about the French thinking we have crap food, though.

Right, I'm off for a burger and chips and a quick sashay down the highstreet in my leather hotpants.

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