English people speak softly, so when they speak loudly it freaks me out

Posted on December 31, 2009 by yankeebean



Gravy – such a simple thing.

So unassuming… so salty… so peaceful.  Delivering flavour to dinners since… forever.

And yet gravy is at the centre of this particular conflict.

There we all were, Christmas Day, everyone except my lovely in-laws already parked around the table staring at the steaming stuffing like it was true love.  We were chatting merrily and enjoying the prospect of eating until we were sick – I’d say the overall mood in the room was somewhere between “just listened to the Jurassic Park soundtrack” and “just won a pub quiz”.

All of a sudden, an almighty ruckus arose from the kitchen…

no no No NO NO NO NO!!!  I’ve just boiled the kettle!!!  Thekettlehadjustboiled!  Whydidyoudothat!?!  The food is all on the table GOING COLD!!

I won’t go into too much detail about the content of the ruckus, but suffice to say that it went on for about a minute and there was shouting and general shenanigans (and the unmade gravy was the primary point of conflict).

Mr Nice Guy was just grinning and shaking his head at this point – we do know that kitchen stress is all a part of the process with his family.  He shot me a cheeky grin as I struggled to remain calm.

But English people yelling really freaks me out – it just seems SO out of character.  My in-laws are always so chilled and quiet – no ripples on the pond, no glitches in the Matrix.  So as soon as volume levels rise, I tense up like a human cramp.

If Americans yell, I just assume they’re asking something basic like “please pass the bread” or “two tickets to Avatar, please”.  But when English people yell, I instantly assume the worst.  Floods… fire… Brian Blessed… (although, I actually think Brian Blessed is HILARIOUS…)

I certainly don’t assume the ruckus is because the gravy hasn’t been made yet…  bless ‘em.  The incident was then mentioned jovially for the rest of the day, but neither my mom or dad in-law ever conceded defeat.  They just cheekily passed the buck (quid?) back and forth until it was time to watch Poirot and forget all about it…

I’m sure I’ll get used to it one day… give me 10 more Christmases and maybe I’ll settle in.

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Parakeet May 4, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I can definitely relate to this! But then it makes me feel odd when I go back to the US and people are so very loud. Somewhat of an adjustment!

    • yankeebean May 8, 2010 at 5:52 pm

      Parakeet – so true!! For the first day back in the US the volume is totally bamboozling. But after about 24 hours I’m back in there shouting with the best of ‘em :D

  2. Steve January 22, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    The Buck you refer to by the way is not a buck as in a unit of currency, but it’s the small hockey puck type item used in formal poker games which is passed from player to player to mark who is dealer for that hand – Hence President Truman’s comment “The buck stops here” as in whoever has the buck has the responsibility, and of course to pass the buck means you are passing the responsibility.

    Hope you don’t mind my throwing that one in for you?


  3. Steve Shawcross January 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Exactly Iota: Make it too powdery or too thick, it’s the end of the world [haha]

    We English speak usually quietly, so you can tell when we are really annoyed ;) Unless you’re Brian Blessed or Christopher Biggins of course!

  4. Iota December 31, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Well, gravy is something of a life and death issue.

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