My wife has four English grandparents, but she grew up in France and only moved back over here to come to university. This means that she quite often brings a different perspective to things. I was a little surprised, for example, to discover that she was - until relatively recently - blissfully unaware of the cultural significance of Rolf Harris. In spite of the fact that he apparently has a house there, the French are somehow ignorant of his many attractions. Imagine that!
We were listening to the radio this morning when the weather came on. Ah, the weather. The apparent obsession with the precise climactic variations of every different part of this island nation of ours is something that the French apparently find fascinating. Why should anyone in Nottingham really care what the weather is doing in West Wales throughout the day? Today's forecast was a doozie, bringing as it did, the news that there were apparently tornadoes in places like Rugby on Wednesday. You might think that was unusual, but apparently we have tornado chasers too who all flocked to the midlands to try and get a piece of this phenomenon. At this particular revelation, C. let out a chuckle. Let's be honest: the tornado in Rugby was never going to take anybody to Oz, was it?
AutumnWatch is another fascination for her: it's not that the programme featuring Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Michaela Strachan isn't entertaining, it's just that she finds it amazing how much the English care about stuff like this. One particular feature had her in stitches: there was a map, set up like a weather map, and Chris Packham used it and reports from viewers to track the arrival of migrant birds from the continent, escaping the Eastern European winter. As Packham gleefully reported the arrival of the first woodcock in Kent - and for a 50 year old he did take an awful lot of pleasure from saying the word "cock" on live television, it has to be said - C. just laughed and said how this was just incredible as the French really don't give a shit about stuff like this and find it amusing that we do. But we really do.
Traffic news: what's that all about? Why would anyone be interested in the news that there's been a spillage on the A16 in Kent or a tailback on the M6 in Lancashire? Some people, for sure, but it's never likely to be detailed enough for 99% of the people listening. For some reason, it seems, we English seem to take pleasure in this kind of minutiae and that pleasure is delightful and mysterious to the French. Why is it, C. asked me, that when you tell anyone that you have driven somewhere, they insist on asking you what route you took. You came from Leicester? Did you take the A46 or the M1? Who gives a shit? Apparently we do.
Vive la difference.
I can't say I've ever paid enough attention to French radio to pick up on their national quirks. I find it pretty hard to get past their abysmal music choices, to be honest.