Saturday, 19 July 2014

Gauche Writer in England

Dear Playwright,

Photo by SiniHarraka
Urban Photobraphy
Living in England isn’t great for my mental health.  The dismal weather suits me fine.  It’s the social etiquette that does my head in.

Thank you for submitting your work and congratulations on making the long list.

This isn't because I'm American, but because I'm gauche.

Please forgive the vague nature of this e-mail but, as you know, the [redacted] is an anonymous prize and we are still unable to know your name.

And when I have my writer's cap on, I'm something several steps past gauche.

We wanted to know whether you'd like to discuss your work over a cup of tea?

So when I received this Dear Playwright email, my response was,

If we can change my order from tea to coffee & throw in a cake, I'll give you my real name.

The English typically react to my humour by becoming more formal and removing all sharp objects from the room.  They never say what made them uncomfortable, but make it clear it has something to do with me.  It’s not the fault of the English ­– their culture’s been around a long time and it works for them.  It’s not my fault, either.  It’s simply a bad mix of an eccentric personality in a reserved society.

But for a communicator (that would be me) to consistently be met with silence, displeased silence, anxious silence, that makes a statement about who I am.  An unacceptable who. 




I'm sorta like
a pink marzipan pig.
I, the former trauma therapist, cause innocent bystanders distress by simply being.  This gives me moments of self loathing.  Sometimes extended moments of self loathing.  It also gives me other moments.  Like when I show up with pink pig cakes from Betty’s that the Butler bought so I’ll have confidence at this meeting.  Moments when I actually think I’m pretty worthwhile.

I’ve lived in six countries and visited a few others.  While my gauchiosity has elicited various reactions, it’s never been met with stony silence except by the English.  As if what I am here is so overwhelmingly threatening, they daren’t make eye contact with me, the social Medusa. 

When I’m not occupied with self loathing over this, it seems really funny.  Being gauche and fat and badly dressed – even the fact my heart isn’t always in the right place because let me assure you, there are a handful of people I’d gladly take out if I wouldn’t get caught – being all those things isn’t scary.  It’s about on the level with having freckles.  And I’m a trained mental health professional, so guess what?  I know I’m badly socialised.  It’s not worth breaking eye contact over.

But this is me versus a whole culture.  You don’t live in multiple countries without figuring out that the culture always wins.  All things considered, England is not a place I want to grow old in.  I think the English will be relieved to hear that.

1 comment:

  1. Try being Britsh, honest and without an agenda. It's an absolute bloody nightmare, even among my own family. Everyone else seems to hide the worst 2/3rds of everything about themselves. I'm utterly congruent. I hide nothing. If they believe I hide the worst 2/3rds no wonder they believe I'm such a bitch.

    Don't even think about the clothes. The English are some of the worst dressed people on the planet. That's why I love Paris so much. I get to dress there without everyone staring. I can go anywhere in the World, and no one recognises me as British. Thank the gods.

    Clearly, you and I should be friends.