Dating a working class Englishman

Behold!  One of the most popular search terms that people are using to find us at the moment – ‘Dating a working class Englishman’.  This must mean two things:

  1. There are a lot of working class English men out there getting some action
  2. There are a lot of confused women out there dating them and Googling them

I’m sorry to say that I’ve never dated a working class Englishman.  In fact, I tried to date mostly gay men until I was 17, so I’m probably the opposite of an expert.

HOWEVER!  I bet we have some readers that can provide some hints and tips that can come in handy when you’re dating your lovely working class Brit.

Consider this an invitation.  I’d love to hear about any of the following from all you lovely readers:

  • What are quirky things that your working class Englishman does?
  • What are his friends like?  How do they get along?
  • What does he do for fun?
  • How is he in the bedroom? (ooOOOOOOooooo!)
  • Is he a good kisser?
  • How did you meet your working class Englishman?
  • What was the first thing you thought when you met him?
  • What made you decided that he was the guy for you?

I can honestly say – I’m freaking EXCITED to hear what you have to say.  And I can promise that you’re not alone because people are searching for this information.  You’ll be donating your knowledge to a good cause. :)

Do English people hate talking about money so much that someone is REFUSING TO PAY ME??

I woke up today to a ridiculous email from a friend (a friend!) I’ve been collaborating with.  I don’t mention it often, but I’m a musician and I do a lot of remote recording work.  My friend (FRIEND!?) and I just finished working on a ten track album on which I worked on 9 out of the ten songs.

I do this kind of thing all the time and usually with people I’ve never met.  So what I USUALLY do (very sensibly) is arrange a contract first and everyone signs it before I record a note.  But THIS time it was for an English friend so I thought we could just talk money once I’d finished.  What. A. FOOL.

When we came to talk percentages / royalties ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE and now I can’t see past my fury enough to figure out if he’s:

a) Over-reacting

b) A d-bag

or c) Rendered useless by money-talk because of his Britishness

Here’s what happened:

He emailed me to ask about contracts / percentages, etc.  I emailed back suggesting slightly high figures so he could barter me down to what I actually wanted.  Based on my past 10 years of experience – this is how it’s always done.  But here’s his response:

I think I wasn’t expecting any of this and in reality this album wont me making you or I any money.

Really?  Nobody every told me…

I won’t be making any formal agreement with percentages or sales in regards to the songs.

OH, GOOD.  I thought you were going to make this difficult.

I think you will have to accept the original terms – you did this because you wanted to play these songs, not for any financial reward.

What??   I  mean yes, I love music and yes, I like his songs – but I can’t pay my bills with the Sound of Music (unless the hills come alive and pay my mortgage)

You cannot now be asking for percentages and so forth when it was clear from the start I would not be paying you for your contribution to the album.

Um… yes I can.  Because no it wasn’t.

This is the same as a dentist doing a filling and his patient telling him he should accept payment as HIS LOVE OF TEETH.

So cast your votes, expats!  Is he a) over-reacting, b) d-bagging or c) paralysed by the fear of talking about moolah.

The enemy has broken through my defences. My husband is making mince pies IN OUR HOUSE.

Even now he’s cutting out treacherous little pastry circles and putting them in a tin.

The mince meat is mixed and ready to be scooped into it’s new buttery home.

The stench of candied peel is hanging in the air.

Soon they’ll go in the oven and the WHOLE HOUSE will reek of mince-pies-of-doom!

Help!  Anyone!  SAVE ME!

What did the American waitress say to the English man about William and Kate’s royal pregnancy?

Here are the stats of this story:

  • My English friend, (we’ll call him ‘Biggles’) is in Los Angles on business right now.
  • William and Kate, the most gorgeous and most royal of couples have an heir-bun in the oven.  (YAY!)
  • Biggles went out for breakfast this morning – and so the scene unfolds.

——————————————————

Waitress:  Hello, my name is *waitress* and I’ll be your server today.

Biggles: Good morning.

Waitress: Can I get you started with some coffee this morning?

Biggles:  Yes, thanks.

Waitress: Cream and sugar?

Biggles:  Black, please.

Then the waitress turns to go.  She pauses.  She returns.

Waitress: And we’ve just heard the big news.  You must be so proud!

She turns and leaves.

——————————————————

Hahaaaa!  He must be SO PROUD!  I love it. :)

Thanksgiving in England: How to not to die of homesickness

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  This time of year, we always get a LOT of emails from fellow expats that are trying to distract themselves from HHH (Heinous Holiday Homesickness).  I hold my arms open wide and give you all big, non-creepy hugs…

Because so many of your are hurtin’, I thought I’d write down my personal and extra-special check-list that I’ve developed to to kick HHH’s arse.

1 – PARTY!

We’re American and we are used to celebrating this day – don’t stop now just because of the tiny, insignificant fact that you don’t ACTUALLY LIVE THERE ANY MORE   Invite people over – heck, invite PERSON over and channel your inner pilgrim.  Drink ’til you’re merry then eat ’til you’re comatose.

Don’t worry about everyone being American, Brits go MENTAL of Thanksgiving.  There have been years that friends that live on the other side of the UK call me up 6 MONTHS IN ADVANCE to ‘reserve’ their seats at Thanksgiving.  Once a friend even flew over from Spain just to be part of our Thanks-mania.

2 – Take the day off

It took me two years to realise that the single thing that pissed me off the most about missing American Thanksgiving was not getting any time off.  From the minute my alarm clock would go off on Thanksgiving morning, I felt like I wanted to throw things and burst into tears.

But the third year in, I took Thanksgiving day off from work and spent the whole day prepping for party-central and watching the original Miracle on 34th Street on constant loop.  BLOODY HELL, it made me feel SOOOOO much better.

Can’t recommend it highly enough.

3 – Do something REALLY American

I’ll give you three guesses about what I do on Thanksgiving Day every year (and have done since my first expat Thanksgiving all the way back in 2005).

Give up?

I GO TO STARBUCKS.

I swear I’m not paid to constantly talk about Starbucks – I don’t even go there all that often.  I just write about it on here a lot because it’s my go-to-screw-you-HHH solution.

Anyway – this is pretty much the first thing I do every Thanksgiving.  I take myself out for a giant eggnog latte and an enormous pastry.  I bring a book and I just sit, read, and soak in all that glorious caffeine and sugar.  I soak it up and I wear it like a sweater / armour all day long. HHH can’t touch me when I’ve got my American buzz on.

4 – Don’t try to EXACTLY duplicate your childhood Thanksgiving

This is another thing I tried to do for the first two years and I can hold my head up high and tell you that it TANKED.  BIG TIME.

Duplicating my American Thanksgiving caused all KINDS of trouble.  For example:

  • Trying to find certain ingredients was a nightmare (Canned pumpkin, fried onions, the right kind of stuffing mix)
  • Asking everyone around the table to say one thing they’re thankful for went down  like a lead balloon.  On the whole, everyone was TOTALLY embarrassed about it.  We didn’t even get all the way around the table.  The Brits staged a kind of silent revolt and gave up half-way through.  For an English twist, why not ask everyone to make a comment about the weather instead?  (Kidding kidding… that was kinda mean, sorry. Clearly I’m still bitter.)
  • Some of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes gave my English guest the heebies.  They’re weren’t a big fan of green bean casserole.  They were sceptical about candied yams and they were surprised (although not horrified) about the stuffing because it was so different to what they’re used to.
  • It’s worth noting that I’m a vegetarian and we also had quorn roast instead of turkey.  You’ll be SHOCKED to know that it didn’t go down that well. :)

5 – Talk to your family

This is both the absolute best and the super-most-difficult part every year – but it’s an absolute essential.  I always want to have a little tear-session after I talk to my fam, but I also know that I’d feel like a big ol’ pile of shite if I didn’t catch up with them.

———-

And that’s it!  I do these 5 things every year and really REALLY helps.

Does anyone have any tips or traditions that you’ve started since you’ve been an expat?  There’s freakin’ LOADS of room on my list for more traditions, so bring it on.

My nephew (who I’ve known for 8 years) didn’t know that I’m American

OH.

MY.

GOD.

Here’s how it happened.


My 8 year old nephew and I were in my in-laws’ back garden playing an epic game of wiffle golf.  He was just winding up to chip his ball into the purple sprouting broccoli (or as we call it, ‘hole 4′) when he said,

“Where are you from?”  Then he paused and gave a BIG laughed.  ”JUST KIDDING!” he laughed, “You’re from England!”

I stood there for a split second.  Stymied.

“No I’m not! I’m from America!”

I was laughing, too. :)  He stopped.  Dropped his wiffle club.  Turned.

“YOU ARE??”

“Yeah, I’m American – I grew up in America!”

“I didn’t know that!”


 He didn’t know!?  

I know that it’s really that I’ve known him since the day he was born and that I just sound like Aunty Yankeebean to him so he doesn’t hear whatever shreds of American accent that I’m still clinging on to.

But it’s another first.  I have never EVER before been confused for anything other than 100% American by someone I’ve know for years and years.  Add it to the list!

Here to stay: When you realise you’re not moving back to America. Ever.

There was a time in my life when I thought I’d move back to America one day. It affected me in little ways, for example, I only bought cheap IKEA temporary-seeming stuff and I never bought any region 2 DVDs…

There was always this belief in the back of my mind that one day I’d buy a one-way plane ticket and head home for good.

But being happy here kinda crept on me when I wasn’t looking.  I met my dude here, I got married here, this weekend I bought a dog here.  These are root-making things and my roots keep digging further and further down while I’m getting on with the admin of every day life.

I can almost pin-point the time when I realised that I might actually live in England forever.  It happened after living here for 3 or 4 years.  It wasn’t a single instant of realisation – it was more like I was on the beach of Blissful Ignorance and gradually growing waves of Realisation started rolling towards me.  I didn’t notice anything, but all of a sudden I seemed to be neck deep in the stuff.

Hand on heart (and at half mast) – I MOURNED for my country.  Oooooohhhhhh, did I cry.

I know I know I know, it sounds ridiculous and overly dramatic, right?  I’m sure you’re SHOCKED to hear that I’ve ever done ANYTHING OVER DRAMATIC, RIGHT?  (If I wasn’t typing, I’d be flailing my hands around right now)

And it’s not like I never cry – oh no – I LOVE to cry!  Crying is awesome!  Movies, TV commercials, old episodes of Extreme Makeover Home Edition – just hand me anything and I’ll cry on it.  But this particular crying episode was more of an extended edition, special-2-disc-set-with-commentary sort of situation.  It was epic Gandalf-you-shall-not-pass kind of emotion.

I wasn’t even miserable living in the UK at the time – I was happy!  What in the flippin’ heck sense does that make??  I was already playing for the UK team a lot of time and the terms ‘we’ and ‘us’ were creeping into conversation when I talked about English people.

But the realisation that I might never live a 20 minute drive from my Mom and Dad again was too much to handle.  Back then, the mere thought would send me fleeing from the room in search of tissues and Joni Mitchell songs.

I guess whenever you’re busy embracing something new, you’re also busy letting something go.

When I visit home-number-1 (America) now, it’s a really common question that people ask.  ”Do you think you’ll ever move back to America?”.  I always answer, “Who knows?  Only time will tell,” because I can’t know for sure that I’ll never move back.  I gotta confess – I LOVE that fact.  I guess there’s still a small part of me basking on that beach and ignoring the waves.

Are there any other lifers out there that know what I mean?

How do you connect with your English man’s friends? VERY SLOWLY.

I read an email from one of our fab-oo-luss readers and it’s definitely worth sharing.  I’ve been through this, and I know from past comments and emails that some of our readers have, too.

The question is:

How do you connect with your English man’s friends?

Here’s the email in it’s entirety:

Dear Yankeebean and all you lovely ladies from SNFY,

I’m having a slight problem with English culture I was hoping you might help me with over a blog post.

I’m an American doing my MA in London, and met a really great English guy shortly after I arrived. We’ve been dating 9 months now. He’s from London and doing his MA here as well, although at a different uni. My question for you is how to connect with his English friends. I’ll tell you more back-story so you can better understand my predicament.

My boyfriend’s close friends are mainly from his undergrad time, and although they all live in London, they don’t see each other very often, but when they do, they all get together for a huge gathering of about 15 people. They are all really close and more than half of them are actually dating each other. I’ve come along to about four of these gatherings now, and I’m having a hard time getting to know them, as they don’t make much effort to get to know me, and I’m quite shy as it is. Usually what happens is that they arrive, ask me the obligatory ‘How are you? How’s uni?” questions and then all talk together in a group about English topics I know nothing about, or reminisce about old university times. Other significant others who come along don’t seem to have this problem, as they aren’t afraid to chime in on the topics about England, whereas I have no idea what they are talking about. Even when I’ve spoken to a few of them one-on-one, which is usually easier, I’m the one doing all the effort, asking them all the questions about themselves (Although I must say, this is usually more true for my conversations with the women than with the men.) I guess my question is, is there some sort of unspoken English rule about how to actually converse in large groups in England? Any advice on how to get past the “How are you?” stage? I realize that it’s always hard being the newcomer at a gathering of old friends, but I thought that by the fourth time meeting them and 9 months into dating him, his friends would be making more of an effort to get to know the girl he’s crazy about. It wasn’t even until last time that one thought to ask where I’m from in the States!

Since I’m a student in London, most of the people I’ve met are actually foreigners as well, so I really haven’t had much experience with English social norms. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now whenever I miss home, and always laugh at your insight into English behaviour. I’ve even just bought “Watching the English” on your recommendation. I was hoping it would arrive in time for me to prepare for the last get together (it was yesterday), but it didn’t :( I did start reading it today, though, and already found that I’ve been going about talking about the weather all wrong this whole time! :)

Thanks again for the great blog. Love it!

Cheers,
NotLongInLondon

And here it is again – that age old question, “How the FLIPPING HECK am I supposed to talk to new English acquaintances??”.  I feel for you, NotLongInLondon, I really do.  I’ve been there.  In fact, I’m tempted to buy property there since I visit so often…

There’s a post by one of our guest authors, Redilocks, about just this topic – How to Make Friends and Influence People (English Style).  It’s a step-by-step guide about how to meet English people without scaring the shite out of them with your natural American-ness.  In fact, it was after I read this post that I started complimenting English women when I first met them.  IT TOTALLY WORKS.  I still get the odd alien laser death glare, but they’re much less common these days…

But if you want proof that you’re already doing a grand job of working your way in to your boyfee’s UK crowd, read this comment from a past post.  One of our readers, Michelle, remains the victim of the rudest and most unbelievable encounter that I’ve ever heard of between an American and an English woman.  After you read Michelle’s experience, I know you’ll feel better about your attempts, because it sounds like it’s actually going pretty well for you.

My final word of advice, and my own person attack in situations where I can’t seem to turn the tide in my favour is this.  Channel your inner  ninja, sit, and listen.  Don’t worry about talking or chiming in, just sit back and observe what’s going on.  If you have something to say, go for it, but don’t stress about it.  I think the ultimate key to hanging out with an already-established group of Brits is time, time, and more time.  Just keep going back, be patient, and you’ll wear ‘em down soon enough.  :)

British TV: Penises. Penises everywhere. And balls.

I have just witnessed a well-spoken doctor squeezing a man’s ball sack on English TV.  They were chatting easily as she casually dug around down there.  There was chirpy music playing in the background.  Xylophone, I think.

Before that I watched a woman take a dump while getting an X-Ray.

And again!  Another scrotum!  This ones being injected with something.  I won’t go into detail.

I’m talking about the TV Show, Embarrassing Bodies on that classiest of English TV channels – Channel 4.  People come on this show to talk through their most embarrassing medical conditions and then they’re filmed while they’re being treated.  Let’s ignore the fact that this is a crazy idea for a TV show (and, naturally, let’s ignore the fact that I’m admitting to watching it :-D ).  Instead, let’s focus on the deeply rooted confusion I’m feeling.  Did I fall asleep and wake up in America?  Through the haze, I think I can see something… HBO?  Is that you?

These lovely English people go on TELEVISION to talk about these things. They drop trou, women casually whip out their boobs, men present their penises. And while all their flesh flashes in super-close-up, they’re chatting away like they’re having a fully-clothed-cuppa in the local caf.

Are these the same people who are uncomfortable when I ask what they’re name is too early in a conversation?? The very same Brits that think it’s hilariously inappropriate that Americans swap medical histories with strangers they meet on the bus?  I MUST be missing something.

I know Americans have a built-in personal freedom when it comes to discussing their lives. Medical problems, money, relationship issues – it’s ALLLLLL open season in America, baby. The other day, someone in my family posted an update on Facebook that said, ‘Hi ho, hi ho, off to my colonoscopy I go’.

But she didn’t film it and put it on YouTube.

Don’t get me wrong, I friggin’ love that this show exists. It shows that Brits can have a stiff upper lip even when they’re bare-arse to the breeze.  A lot of them don’t seem even remotely nervous, either.  I don’t get it.  SERIOUSLY.

But I’m not 100% shocked because it’s not the first time I’ve had a run in with genitalia on prime time British TV.  And I know it isn’t the last…

Anyone else seen this show?  Will anyone else admit to it? :-D

How to combat homesickness in 5 simple steps

Unless you’re one of those lesser-known robot-expats, you battle with home sickness just like the rest of us.  Here are the 5 simple steps that will help to ease your homesickness (well, they help me, anyway…)

1 – Cry

The first step to curing your homesickness is to let it ALLLLLLL hang out.  Cry.

And don’t just cry, UGLY cry.  Homesickness ain’t pretty and your homesickness doesn’t have to be either.  Line up the tissues and let ‘er rip.  Formally invite yourself to your own pity party and gush until you start to feel better.  You will feel better, I promise.

2 – Call home

A lot of the time my homesickness is triggered when I haven’t talked to my family recently enough.  Picking up the phone or, better yet, hopping on Skype is a quick and easy way to lighten the emotional load.

Sometimes the time difference would mean waking your Mom and Dad up in the middle of the night and scaring them because middle-of-the-night calls are rarely good news.  If it’s too late/early in the States when you’re homesickin’, write them a big ‘ol email instead and suggest a chat time later on.

3 – Eat lunch at Subway and then have coffee at Starbucks

Sometimes I just want to be back in America – even half an hour would do.  I feel like I need to be temporarily surrounded by loud-talkers and positive attitudes and then I can get on with my UK plans.  On those days I take myself out for lunch at Subway and coffee at Starbucks.

I can attest that both of these places are similar enough that it’s almost like being transported back to the States for my lunch hour.  I consider Starbucks a kind of American-Embassy-with-coffee.  I always play spot-the-Americans and try to count how many other expats or tourists have come to take refuge.

4 – Hang out with other expats

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t hang out with locals, far from it!  But it’s SO INSANELY useful to be able to have a guilt-free bitch session with a fellow expat when homesickness comes a-knockin’.  Venting to a local is dangerous – you’ll almost certainly offend them (at least if you’re doing your bitching right).  But venting to a fellow expat is luxurious – is verbal vicks vapor rub – its pure relief.

5 – Write about it

Since 2008, I have come back and back and back to this blog as a way to combat my homesickness.  Can you guess why I’m writing this post?  I’ll give you a hint – I just got back from Subway and Starbucks.  I’m beginning to think that I’ll never stop blogging because I’m not sure what I’d do without it.

Blogging about the differences between the US and the UK, and the hi jinx of moving from America to England is the bomb-diggity because it adds perspective.  It helps me to see the funny side of the, shall we say, ‘colo(u)rful’ experiences that arise when you move to another country.  It also gives me the glorious relief of proving that I’m not alone.  Every time one of our lovely commenters commiserates, it soothes my mind.

I am not the only expat.  I am not the only homesick American.  You’re all here with me and you’re all living it, too.  Go us!

If you have any tips about combating home-sickness, please please please let me know.  I’m always looking for new ways to beat this sucker…