‘Brits Abroad’ are all over the newspapers once again after a report by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office shows just what some of us get up to when away from this country.
We all know that Europe has been plagued by our ‘lager louts’ for decades, and I have commented on this subject in the past, but it’s not just the young yobs who behave so badly, for on many occasions I have witnessed some grotesque behaviour from people who you would expect to know better.
A couple of years ago I was having breakfast at an hotel in the middle of France. It was a buffet and I had just helped myself to another croissant when I discovered that the coffee had run out. A member of the hotel staff apologised to me and went off to the kitchen to get ‘la même chose’. As soon as he had disappeared, a very large ‘tweedy’ English lady marched up to the front of the buffet queue, grabbed a big empty coffee pot, waved it above her head, and in a voice which had been trained to frighten the horses, shouted … “ENCORE ! … ENCORE ! … ENCORE !” … which proved that she was not only bloody rude but also bloody ignorant.
I’ve seen many a ’toff’ in a Panama hat talking to some hapless foreign waiter as if he was on some plantation verandah in the days of the British ‘Raj’; for an upper class ’posh’ accent is no guarentee of good manners, as anyone will tell you who has been unfortunate enough to dine in the same restaurant as a bunch of ’Sloane Rangers’ on the Côte d’Azur, or been caught up with the ’Islington Elite’ on their way to ’Chiantishire’.
More mature people are just as capable of rowdy behaviour as those young hooligans who puke their way from one Spanish ’Costa’ to another, as I well know after encountering a party of drunken British golfers staggering around the streets of a small French holiday resort one evening. They were looking for the … ”local f*****g ’Chinese’!”
I met a pleasant young couple in a bistro in Provence who claimed to be Canadian when a very loud American
gentleman at the next table kept yelling throughout his meal for … “MAW CAWFEE !”
Perhaps I will follow their example the next time I travel abroad and pretend to be … what ? … Well it will have to be a nationality who’s men are well known to be genteel, inoffensive, sensitive, sober and a credit to their great country when travelling abroad. … That’s it ! … I’ll pretend to be …
… An Australian !