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The Secret Cevennes - articles by Samantha David


Ten Signs to Watch Out For... 

      I’ve been pondering: how long can you live in France before you go native, and how can you tell?  I mean, would it be possible to go native without realising it?  In the interests of scientific research, I came up with the following list of going native symptoms, to help you know if it’s happening to you... 

The Shrug and The Bof

      You’ve adopted a Gallic attitude to petty irritations and rudeness.  Instead of being outraged at the off-hand manner of sales assistants and waiters, you understand that they’re badly-paid and over-worked.  You just get what you want and get out of there fast.  “Bof!” you say, when someone tells you they’re sold out of coffee.  “Ce n’est pas grave.” 

China Footprints

      You no longer fastidiously search out proper sit-down loos.  You can manage the china footsteps to perfection and in any case, you agree that in public places they’re more hygienic.  Personally you’d prefer clean china footsteps to a dirty seat. 

You don’t expect pastoral care from school staff

      You’ve understood that teachers are assigned willy-nilly to teaching posts across the country, and are there to dish out the national curriculum rather than defend the reputation of any individual school because in France all schools are officially the same.  You curry favour by dressing to impress, chivvying your kids over their homework, and writing crisp notes. 


Your leaking roof doesn’t bother you

      As long as the buckets in the attic don’t over-flow, you take drips for granted.  After all, it doesn’t rain that often, you never go in the attic and when the kids inherit the house, it’ll be their problem.  You know that kids in France can legally stop their parents from squandering their inheritance.   

You’re good at compiling dossiers

      You’ve put so many dossiers together that you’ve got a whole filing system devoted to copies of documents, original certificates, certified copies and official translations.  Being asked to “monter un dossier” doesn’t bring you out so much in a hot flush as in a warm glow of self-satisfaction that you can jump through this hoop so effortlessly. 

You’ve given up liberal parenting

      You haven’t time for Anglo-Saxon laissez faire.  You insist that your kids eat properly at table, keep their feet off the sofas, and know how to behave in public.  You spoil them rotten, but if they don’t work at school, you’re perfectly ready to send them to a boarding school until they learn to study comme il faut.   

You drink black coffee at the end of meals

      You used to ask for milk but you’ve now discovered that after a heavy meal, a small black coffee refreshes you, aids digestion and settles the stomach.  You know this is the secret to working after a long leisurely (boozy) lunch.  In the evening, you wouldn’t think of drinking coffee, with or without milk.  You prefer a tisane and you have a variety of them to hand for such medical emergencies as a “crise de foie”.    

You don’t spend your holiday doing DIY

      You wouldn’t dream of giving up your fortnight at the coast.  Who cares if the bedroom ceiling is peeling?  No-one is going to see it because it’s not a public room.  Visitors only ever see reception rooms and, in any case, you prefer taking people out to a restaurant than entertaining them at home. 

You’re glad Christmas only lasts one day

      You like the festivities.  You have a climbing Santa on your roof.  You buy presents for everyone, but the big meal is on Christmas Eve and having spent Christmas day sleeping it off, you’re perfectly happy to go back to work on Boxing Day.  In any case, New Year is more important to you. 

Your poodle shops with you

      You wouldn’t dream of leaving your precious toutou tied up outside SuperU so instead you put him in the child seat of the trolley and talk to him all the way round the shop.  Would baby like a little veal?  A morsel of chick-chick?  No-one takes the slightest notice of you.  Apart from other poodles who are also shopping for gourmet treats, of course. 

      I think that’s the full list, but can you think of any more?  Let me know if you can, and we’ll compile a list of the best. 

Next column will be uploaded around 15th June.

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