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.  :)

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.”

My friends have started blaming America again – the honeymoon is over…

yankeebean

It’s happened twice in the last week, and I wonder if it’s only the beginning.

Two of my friends posted properly mean stuff about Americans – two separate but equal mini rants (via Facebook status updates).  The first rant ended with ‘Bloody Americans…’ and the second ended with ‘Stupid Americans…’

Now, I don’t have a stick up my arse or anything, I can take a joke.  But these two rants really weren’t very nice and I was a little bit offended.  In both instances I rallied for the cause and defended my nation!  Using myself as a (hopefully) good example of a real, 3D American that isn’t stupid.

Both of my friends’ reactions were the same, too.  They both said, ‘Oh, I forgot that you’re American!’  Then they both said something like, ‘I’ll make an exception in your case’.

That really got my hackles up…  my complaint is two-fold.

  1. They FORGOT that I’m American??  Is seven years all it takes for people to forget your nationality and start verbally crapping all over your country right in front of you?
  2. They’ll make an exception???  Oh… *bow*… *scrape*… how GENEROUS of you to make an exception and allow me out of the American slum and onto the golden streets of the UK

What a coupla noobs.  I hope everyone I know hasn’t been keeping a tight lip about their real feelings about Americans for the past seven years.  If so, things are going to do downhill fast.

And what will I do about it?  Cup of tea, of course…

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.

Moving Away: making the first new friends and the glow that comes with it

yankeebeanI’ve noticed my constant use of titles with colons included (:)  I think it’s something I’m going to just going to run with – let’s not over-analyse this…

All that aside, I want to start with a single statement…

Moving is hard.

I don’t mean hard because you have to transfer all your bills, or pack up all your stuff, or make a lot of phone calls, or find a new job (although all that stuff is huge pain in the arse).  I mean hard in a quieter way.  Hard after all that admin-crap is over with.

The ACT of moving is actually incredibly exciting (yes yes, stressful, too) but really freakin’ exciting.  There’s SO much to do, so much to think about, so much that you have to get done.  And SO MUCH GLORIOUS POSSIBILITY.  What there ISN’T a lot of is ‘time to think’.  What will it actually be like when we get there?  How will I meet new people?  How will I fill my time when I don’t know where anything is?  How will I deal with the inevitable loneliness?  How will I keep in touch with everyone that I’m leaving back in town #1?

THESE, my awesome peeps, are the issue that I DIDN’T think about when I was wrapping drinking glasses in last week’s newspapers and wondering if my broadband is going to be up and running in time in my new digs.

Well, tonight I jumped one of the post-moving hurdles – The First New Friends.

It’s been 6 months since we picked up and moved down south from the gorgeous York-iness, and I’ve been through the standard moving phases (another blog on my extensive history of moving later).  I’m familiar with the standard rate of meeting the first real friends after about 6 months – and today (6 months and 16 days after the move – 14 of which I spent out of the country), VIOLA!!  I think I’ve made the first real friends!!

I’m flippin’ GLOWING – Mr. Nice Guy and I just got back from having drinks with another couple and we had a GREAT time.  No awkward moments, no weird looks, just all laughing and all chatting all the time.

It’s one of the big moving hurdles that I’m feeling relieved to have completed – AND they’re successfully invited to my annual UK Thanksgiving extravaganza on 26th November.  Shameless friend-making… HUZZAH!!!

How To Make Friends and Influence People (English Style!)

redlillocks

Hey lovelies, today we are proud to bring you a guest post by a another American in the UK, who calls herself ‘Redlilocks’– (insert applause!)

A quick introduction… I grew up in Pennsylvania but moved to Denver and then later to Wisconsin where I met an English man with a wicked sense of humour who made me laugh like no American man ever did. After a whirlwind romance, we married and I moved to Kent with him in 2001. Cut a long story short, the relationship didn’t work out & we divorced two years later. By that point, however, I felt so happy and settled in the UK that I decided to stay. I lived in Kent for 8 years and have only just recently moved to Manchester (oop north) to live with my new lovely man. This is not to gloss over the first 3 months I was here in which I spent either crying, saying, ‘pardon?’ to every person who attempted conversation or dreaming of Wendy. (No, not my BFF – the burger joint). But I stopped making comparisons and started to enjoy what the UK had to offer – and there was plenty. Including good friends.

Reading the comments, I felt compelled to write as it seems so many have such a problem making friends with British women. I have some fantastic friends here and genuinely love the UK. I relate so much better to the British mentality then the American ‘gung-ho’ attitude which always left me feeling slightly uncomfortable. That is not to say I’m reserved – by no stretch of the imagination – I’m actually very enthusiastic and out-going but I think I’ve learned that British people aren’t actually cold and snotty but they ARE more reserved and I have had to adapt the way I approach making friends with this in mind.

I have a lot of really great female friends here but have admittedly ‘worked’ for it – at least to start – but it’s been totally worth it and I’d like to share my advice. Bear in mind there are no guarantees here. After all, some people are just not very nice and nothing you can do will change that but do you really want to be friends with someone like that? No, I didn’t think so.
Let’s get started then.

MEETING FOR THE 1ST TIME:

Turn down the volume. I have turned my ‘volume’ of enthusiasm when meeting new people from about a 9 down to around a 5. This isn’t about not being yourself, it’s about being a more chilled out version of yourself .

Asking lots of personal questions doesn’t work. Whatever you do, DON’T ask a million and one questions when you first meet someone thinking that will break the ice. It won’t. They will think you are being exceptionally nosey – questions can come upon meeting them the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time. It’s like melting ice – yeah you can go at it with a sledgehammer to break it into a million pieces or you can warm up the temperature around it and wait. Believe me, the waiting is worth it.

Engage in pointless chitchat. Go ahead and talk about the weather for the first conversation. Tell them where you are from, why you’re here when they inevitably ask and you may need to smile and laugh while you suffer through their stories of holidays in Florida. If the conversation falls flat, let it. English people are not as uncomfortable with silence as Americans. It’s okay, you haven’t failed. Compliments are always welcome. Tell them you love their earrings or their shoes or their bag – it might start a conversation about how great Matalan is.

Keep it light, Keep it positive. DON’T complain about anything British (not even the weather). They will get defensive which is what you are trying to avoid. DO NOT TALK RELIGION OR MONEY. Keep it light and impersonal.

MEETING FOR THE 2ND TIME:

Be warm, not overbearing. You will find they will be a little warmer. Smile warmly back. That is all. Don’t extend your hand (You are not on an interview.)

Remember their name. This is sort of a no-brainer. Don’t be upset if they’ve forgotten yours. I can guarantee they haven’t forgotten you – being American brings with it a novelty value.

Be personable without being intrusive. Now is the time to be slightly more personal. Ask them where they are from, what they do.
Know your limits. Now is probably not the best time to regale them with stories of your childhood or how much money you make. There’s time for all that (well, not the money – that’s just not a conversation you want to have. Ever.)

Bear with the process. It seems long-winded. You’ll have to bite your tongue. You will feel like you are not getting anywhere but I promise you will!

MEETING FOR THE 3RD & 4th TIME:

Greet them appropriately. You may find by this time that they will be even warmer – you might want to give a kiss on the cheek if you feel it is welcome (NOT A HUG). If not, a warm smile always works.

Get to know them ‘properly’: Now you can start asking more personal questions, asking their opinion about something in the news, offer funny stories (preferably if you’ve done something silly – they love self-deprecating humour and it shows humility). Don’t be surprised if they start asking you some personal questions back and genuinely try to get to know you.

Don’t be scared. If you find you have things in common and you would like to see them again, invite them around for a cup of tea or a drink down the pub. You’ll be surprised how quickly the English will open up when they’ve had a few.

I think the main thing is not to try too hard – it will seem forced. My female friends (English) who have met other Americans find them scary – overly enthusiastic (which they don’t trust; they think it is fake, no matter how sincere you are) and nosey. What’s natural and normal for us is alien to them and they don’t know how to take it. So being accepted here is all about working around THEIR issues slowly until they are warm enough to you that you can feel very natural about totally being yourself. By that time, they will have (almost) forgotten you are American and the person beyond that will shine through.

You might not want to take my advice – it’s just what’s worked for me. I find with English people, once they DO warm up to you, you will have some pretty fantastic relationships. When I moved from Kent to Manchester, I had 3 going away parties because I had 3 different groups of pals (male/female mixed) that I wanted to be able to say goodbye to. It’s worked and I don’t feel like I’ve not been myself, or have denied who I am.

So now that I have moved I’m starting all over again – having to make new friends. I start a new job tomorrow and am hoping that in a couple months time, I have made some new friends to go shopping with or get lunch with or have a natter with over tea. In the meantime, I’ll smile politely, chat about the weather and laugh at the appropriate places when they tell me all about their annual trip to Disneyworld.

How do you find people in Britain who make you happy when you’ve just moved?  Click here

How a pair or rollar skates can help you make friends in Britain- Click here

A Reader in London Ponders a Return Back to her Native Texas

yahooavatar15Us three ladies on this blog get to know many of your worries. We’re glad that you can trust us enough to share your thoughts and troubles-we get many stories about your experiences in the UK. Believe us, we love it and don’t mind if you need a place to vent (see our strap line above for verification!). In our short 6 months of blogging we have 6,000 readers a month now come visit us and some leave us stories (we’re chuffed!). From your worries about UK visa approval, to your British partner’s hygiene, to your homesickness, to your long-distance trans- Atlantic relationships, to being broke and not having enough to eat, to not being able to get a job, to not making friends in the UK, to moving your child here, to the bad weather, to ranting about Bed and Breakfast etiquette (oh wait, that last one was just me)— WE’VE READ IT ALL!

From our About page Lisa writes:

“hi, I’m glad I found this site too! I’m an american who has lived in Greater London for 9 years now (married a brit). In all this time, I still haven’t met any good friends (keep in mind, we have a 6yo daughter so I’ve been and done all the baby/toddler group mingling as well). I’ve got 1 friend, if you can call her that, whom I go shopping with occasionally and that is it…and she only calls me when her man isn’t busy spending time/money with her. The “aloofness” of UK girls is REALLY getting to me…I want to find some girlfriends who will just open up and chat, chat, chat! Because I feel isolated, I often find myself wanting to uproot and take my daughter back to Texas so I can see my parents and friends again. It is so hard b/c financially, my husband and I are better here. We have an age gap and he would find it too difficult/expensive in TX. So if I did move, he’d stay here. That would NOT be good for our daughter….so I’m feeling very torn right now. Any tips how to get over all this??”

Lisa, I completely understand your feelings! In fact, we have posted about some of these situations ourselves. Just know you are NOT ALONE! You might find some of our posts helpful:

So, in closing and as we grow in readership I want to ask the sassy-brilliant-and-smart-as -a-whip-She’s Not From Yorkshire community what would you answer to Lisa in London?