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.

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.  :)

English people DO cry at weddings, but you can tell they’re horrified about it…

As a seasoned-expat, I think I’ve gotten fairly used to the English stiff upper lip.  It used to drive me bonkers when I first moved here.  I found myself wanting to take random Brits by the shoulders and shake them until they were forced to emote.  (Unless large amounts of booze is involved, in which case the stiff upper lip stops being such an issue.)  :)

With wedding season once again upon us, I’ve been a witness to the inner struggle of Brits trying to keep their stiff upper lips locked-down in emotional situations.

I don’t know about you ladies, but I could cry for a living.  EVERYTHING makes me cry, but I don’t mind.  Mr. Nice Guy is used to it (having lived through 10 years of it already).  In private?  Sure thing.  In public?  No problem.  Just set me up with my water-proof mascara and some Kleenex and I’m ready to roll.  Happy as a sad-clam…

Twice this year I was asked to play during a wedding (sitting up front with a full few of the peeps in the pews), and I’ve watched as the lovely Brits start to cave (usually when people are saying their vows).  First their faces harden as the struggle begins.  Lips pressed together, eyes glancing up to hold in the emotion, but it’s a losing battle.  When the first tear falls, they might glance around to see if anyone has noticed.  If the tears keep comin’, a general look of uncomfortable surrender eventually takes place.  Surrender is complete when the tissue-rummaging and tear-mopping begins.

As a side note, I’ve noticed that if other people are already crying, then it’s not such a big deal.  So, American ladies, do your British lady-friends a favour at the next wedding and be the first one to cross the snuffly finish line.

Initially, at these two weddings, I wished I could’ve given them a little slice of my ‘Just cry, it’s awesome and you’ll feel better’ pie.  But the truth is, they don’t really need my help.  Brits been stiff-upper-lipping for generations  - it wouldn’t seem like England without this charmer…

PS – I’m especially excited about wedding season this year because I’m going to be PeacefulYorkshire’s biotch-of-honour at her wedding in the States next year.  WOOOHOOOOO!!! :D

British people are fascinated by American high school cliques – “What group would I have been in?”

yankeebean

Ok, it’s happened enough times now that it warrants a blog post.  I was a choir practice at my church the other day, sitting next to a girl who’s in her final year of GCSE’s (the equivalent of being a sophomore in high school).  During the break she came up and said,

“Y’know high school?  Do people really separate into groups like in the movies?”  She said this with a giddy excitement, clearly dying for me to say ‘yes’.

Well she was in luck, cos I did say ‘yes’, and she got really excited (well, as excited as a 16 year old girls lets herself get).  I also told her that the best description of the different cliques I’d seen was in the movie Mean Girls – it was the only movie that went into such specific detail about how niche they can be.  It’s by no means a complete list, but it hints at it…

I said all this while she smiled and flapped quietly and 16-excitedly.  And then she dropped the bomb…

“What group do you think I would have been in?”

CRAP, I knew this was going to happen… do any of you lovely American expats get this?  It’s like being instantly transported back to high school for a moment.  You have to remember all the secret rules and socialla warefare involved in just surviving.  And then you have to judge a person by those bollock-y rules that don’t matter (at least as much) any more.  Tttthhhbpbpbpbpttttt…

But let’s face it.  There can only be one answer to this question when you’re talking to a 16 year girl who’s nice and sits next to you in choir.

I told her she’d probably be a popular kid because she was cute and friendly (and English, can’t get enough of that accent over there).  She was very very very happy…

So I guess it ended well, but this is the third time someone has asked me about the cliques in high school and then asked what they would’ve been.  I’m starting to wonder if I need a standard answer that I can whip out without having to think or have high school flashbacks.  Something witty and ironic… the Brits would like that : ).  Any ideas?

**PS**

I was telling Mr Nice Guy about this and he said, “I know exactly what I would’ve been.  I would’ve been a Scrabble Jock.”  :D  I said he would’ve been the only one, but that I would’ve fancied him for it…

Emotional Americans in England look no further…

 

Yeah, we know us 3 gals don’t always keep a steady stream of posts, and we will raise our SURE underarms to be the first to know we’ve been sporadic lately. But, our goal of SNFY even after 2 years  is still the same– we’re always trying to connect and help and  our fellow Americans living in England. We joyously came across this letter to us the other day in our in-box. So, if you are an expat yourself and are interested in meetin’ a lurvely sounding  American laydeh in Sheffield, do get in touch and we will forward her your email.

Hi! After the the most frustrating Christmas ever wherein my husband, new baby, and I ended up without anywhere to go for Christmas dinner because my Yorkshire in-laws didn’t want to “impose” by offering an invitation, I Googled “emotional Americans in England” to see if anyone else could validate my bafflement. I was taken to your blog! Hurrah! Anyway, I am a 38 year old American woman married to a Yorkshireman and living in Sheffield. I’ve just had a baby here in Sheffield. Anyway, are there any American women living in Sheffield who want to go for a drink? I am dying for American company! I don’t know anybody here and whenever I am frustrated by English culture, my husband looks at me as though I am insane. I am starting to believe him. I need some American commiseration in a major way. By the way, before I became imprisoned in Yorkshire, I was an international teacher. I have lived in several other countries and never have I felt so “foreign.”

American Women’s Clubs in Britain: Do they just eat cake?

peacefulyorkshire

Ok so the blog post title is unfair. I’ve seen pictures of women’s clubs in ‘American in Britain Magazine’* also wearing some pretty adorable fashionable feather-infused hats. Oh, and also daintily drinking tea. You can see what I mean here,where there are some stylin’ laydehs.

Have you ever been tempted to join one as a newcomer, my fellow Americans in Britain?

Have you ever considered shelling out your dough for some ‘instant’ Expat American friends?

I set out to do a little mission to see what it would cost to join. I counted 21 American Women’s clubs listed on this fair island, and two examples:

1)The Chilterns American Women’s Club- “CAWC is a network of friendly faces, all of whom were ready to help with my adjustment to the expatriate lifestyle.” (This will cost you £50 a year). 

  • Newcomer Coffees
  • Holiday Charity Bazaar
  • Trunk or Treat
  • Winter Luncheon
  • Spring English Morning Tea
  • Charity Cheque Presentation
  • Summer Luncheon Cruise on the Thames

2) For a whopping £105 a year you can join the American Women’s Club of London whose previous programs include:

  • Bridging the cultural gap- two lands separated by a common language
  • Christie’s Auction House – Famous women and their jewellery collections
  • Flower arranging ideas for the Fall and Holiday season
  • Chocolate tasting with the official chocolate taster of Fortnum & Mason

But cost aside, and if you can afford this type of thing in these Aldi-lovin’ Credit Crunch times, does being an Expat automatically make you bond foreveh with other Americans? I can honestly say from experience that it is NO for me personally. I mean, although it is nice to chit chat about how damn annoying American tourists can be when they talk loudly and wear fanny packs, and how the weather can suck, and of course raising money for charity is thoughtful. But after that….well,  there needs to be some kind of other connection, right?

    What are your thoughts, ladies? Are you in any paid  ‘American Women in Britain’ clubs? If so, what have your experiences been? Please share so I can stop being so sceptical…


    * One of the benefits of running SNFY with PacificBird and Yankeebean are the perks, like this magazine we get complimentary, thank you very much.

When British people try to imitate your accent ( Do I sound like that? SERIOUSLY!?)

forensic spiceHanging out with the English is so much fun, yet there almost indefinitely comes a time during a night out where your American accent is attempted by a Brit. Suddenly, as you are telling a story, you get your American accent parroted back to you by your UK friend(s):

Them: “Hee-low, Iyme Amereycan, aynd Iye lyke yew!” (in the most nasal voice EVER)

You: “Yeah, thanks a lot.”

Them: No hard feelings, just “taking the piss” mate!

Whether you are an American in Yorkshire, London, or Wales, you’ll know what I’m describing. What do you do in these situations? The first option is to get annoyed and/or embarrassed. The second option is to laugh.

Have you ever tried the British accent in a UK group? You’ll likely get laughed at. If they get to do it, well then, so do we!

This phenomenon is only indicative of the American-UK relationship. Can you imagine your Nigerian or Swedish friends doing this? Or you doing it back? Probably not. So join in the fun on something that makes your UK experience differentiated from any other country.

Roll down a fake car window and parrot back in your best Yorkshire accent! Excuse me Sir, but do you have any Grey Poupon?”

Forensic Spice is one of our newsest guest bloggers and is a Californian now living in Yorkshire.

Stuck in America because of an Icelandic volcano

yankeebean

When I say ‘stuck’, please translate that as ‘YAY!  I get 6 extra days in America with my family!!’ :)

The main reason I wanted to write this blog is because of the title.  How often can you write a blog title like that and have it be 100% non-fiction?

Anyway, the short version is that Mr. Nice Guy and I were supposed to fly out of O’hare tonight at 9:45pm, but instead a volcano shut down the skies over the UK and we’re not flying home until Wednesday morning…

Any other Expats stuck in their home away from home?  I feel like I’ve gotten an extended snow day :D   WOOHOO!!!!

“Is that an American expression?”… “I Have No Idea”…

yankeebean

yankeebean

One of the things that I tend to do is make up random words and slang for everything.  Just for kicks, y’know?  Life’s too short to abide by the Dictionary (although it’s a fine book).  My Mom does it, too and I think I get it from her – sometimes I wonder if we could have a conversation using only our secret code.  Like two spies… or psychic ninjas.

When I first move here, people would ask, “Is that an American thing?” and sometimes I’d say “Yeah” and launch into an explanation.  But sometimes I”d say, “No, it’s just a random Yankeebean thing, I like making up words”. (With lots of hand waving and general gesticulation, of course).

But recently a couple of people have asked “Is that an American thing?” and I’ve had to pause and say, “I have absolutely no idea…”

Half the time I just don’t remember if it’s American, or something I made up – I’m not even sure if it’s just something people say in the NORTH and not in the South in England.  All of the terms of everywhere I’ve lived have all ended up in a big bubbling pot of vocabulary – and the origin is starting to evaporate in to thin air  (I moved once a year from when I was 15 to when I was 20, so there’s a reasonable jumble in there)

So, is it just another expat shamerican thing?  Anyone else forgetting what’s from where?  Or should I make a doctor’s appointment? :D

American in Britain AND Brit in America

yankeebean

yankeebean

Part of being an American woman, and dating or marrying an English man is that one of you will always be living in a land in which you weren’t made.  Or, of course, you’ll opt to jump ship from both your native lands to even the score…

Normally I’m the American in Britain and I’ve gone through all of the exciting, sometimes brain-squeezing adjustments involved.  Whether I like it or not, being an ‘American in Britain’ is a big part of who I am – and how other people see me.  It’s often the way I’m introduced, “This is Yankeebean – she’s American”

But Mr. Nice Guy and I just got back from a 2 week stint in the lovely USA, where he became the Brit in America.  It really brings me back to when I was the new expat in town – I almost couldn’t believe some of the stuff people said to him (especially since, 5 years in, I’m partially Brit-in-America now, too).

A lot of it was about the accent – and many many many of my lady friends in the USA went on and on, right to his face, about how gorgeous he was :D  And I’m not the jealous type so I just kept thinking ‘score one for me!’…

Another common thing is that people would ask him where he’s from, and they would then describe one of their past holidays to London because, to many Americans, London IS England.  Mr. Nice Guy was a good sport about it – even though I could tell he was embarrassed from the top of his spiky hair to the bottom of his man-Sketchers when my friends were fawning over him.  Classic:)

And so it goes!  Either I’m the American in Britain or Mr. Nice Guy is the Brit in America – it’s just the way things are now and, actually, I think we’re getting good at it (finally!  High fiiiiiiiive!!)