The Enigmatic Brit…

We of British stock have an alluring air of mystery about us.

Hubs read me a notice one day at the station warning litterers they would be fined and their,

“Name and address could be asked of them.”

He was tickled by this suggested breach of privacy!

“What’s so private about an address and phone number?”  He asked.

“The authorities can come after us!”  I said…

Not that they can’t already, we live in a welfare state after all, but I suppose the notice writers are creating an allusion that they may not have ready access to the  pertinent information they need.

So, all you would be litterers, dispose of your rubbish properly or your privacy will be invaded.

Allusion aside I am a fan of keeping myself to myself.  With four children it was almost impossible; bowel movements, sleeping habits, eating preferences, personal hygiene and verbal outbursts were fair game when out in public with munchkins.  I grew immune to it.  All parents were in the same boat; we took hundreds of pinches of salt.

Since my arrival in England, unimpeded by mini-me’s, I have begun to reconnect with my private inner self.

Hubs is bewildered.  Coming from the school of thought that,

“If you don’t blow your own trumpet who will?”

He is flummoxed that,

1) no-one wants to share very much about themselves with him,

2) no-one appears very impressed when he shares with them and

3) Wifey has spurned her American self in favour of her English reserve.

Does, not knowing the ins and outs of each other limit neighbourliness?  My oldest son observed, while he was visiting, that there is a lot of help proferred and accepted on tube stations, especially those with long flights of stairs.

“That,” I explained, “is ‘Big Society’ at work.”

‘Big Society’ doesn’t involve an invasion of privacy.  I don’t have to reveal my motives or history or whom I know in order to get help with my extraordinarily heavy suitcase.  In turn I don’t need to know someone’s name, occupation, reason she’s out on the town with her toddler or where she lives, to help her up the stairs with her push-chair.

We are not a bragging nation.  We are stiff upper lipped, fiercely patriotic, impassive, stoic, tight lipped, and unemotional (except at football games).  We are not name droppers or self touters, and if we do drop names and tout ourselves, we are labelled as show offs!

Take the pianist at our recent Music Festival as an example.  We had never heard of her and imagined she was a guest artist from the local community…which as it turned out she was.

That evening when she came on stage hubs and I looked at each other.  We knew who she was.  We’d been in a six week discussion group with her.  All she had revealed about herself then was that she had attended a church in Streatham controlled by the Gay Mafioso who ran her off with their aggression!

She was an extremely talented piano player.  We were suitably impressed.   In her defence I doubt I would have expected her to have introduced herself thus,

“Hello, my name is Nicole, I’m a genius on the piano!”  when we first met her.

Instead we got to know and like this quiet, unassuming woman who sang in the choir and used to attend a Gay Mafioso church in South London.  She had some interesting insights about the topics we discussed and we enjoyed our time together.  Would we have taken to her more readily had we known her talent?   Of course not!

She was a typical example of how we Brits would rather folk get to know and accept us for who we are without the trappings, adornments or invasion of personal space bragging affords.

Most Americans have a different modus operandi.  They feel they have to add a few well dropped names and achievements, if there are any, in order to grab the interest of potential acquaintances faster and more assuredly.

I would rather be known for who I am and let others discover for themselves any hidden talents that may lurk beneath, which, in my case, don’t!

This method puts me in the same mysterious boat as everyone else.  We are all attributed with some wildly exciting  potential…or not…who’s to ever know unless someone, other than me, spills the beans?

Yes, we may run the risk of never being found out, especially if our achievments are locally modest.  But that’s all right.

God knows, isn’t He enough?

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