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.

I can’t sound THAT American anymore because English people freely tell me how much they hate the American accent

When I first moved to the UK, I met a lot of people that loved American accents, American culture and all things stars-and-stripes.  But after being here for 8 years, it’s more common to hear Brits talk about how awful they think the American accent is.

It’s never malicious.  No intentional insult.  They just casually chat about how harsh and unappealing it sounds.  They talk about how loud it is.  They talk about how distracting they find it.

And they talk about it, right to my face, like I don’t have one.

I can honestly say that I’m not insulted because I can tell that they don’t mean any harm.  After finding out that I’ve lived in the UK for so many years, I wonder if people put me into the ‘Other’ category rather than the ‘American’ one.  They chat freely to me about my mamma-land because they feel like I’m on their team now (I hope?).  Either that or their being arseholes and I’m too nice to notice.

But I don’t think that’s it.  I’m a nice woman, not a nice eejit.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the case that every English person hates the Yankee twang, but it’s become a 60/40 split in terms of Brits telling me they hate/love it.  And I’m sure all you lovely expats will agree that when the words ‘hate’ and ‘America(n)’ drop-it-like-it’s-hot into a conversation, your ears perk up a bit so I can’t help but notice the shift.

I have no plans to try and stop this trend since no one directly involved seems to find it upsetting.  If the convo DOES turn to accent-hating, I toss around my own opinions about types of British accents that I’m not super-fond-of and I don’t think I’ve annoyed anyone.  But I maintain the right to become She-Ra, Outraged Princess of Power, if anyone attacks my precious home land with malicious intent!

What do you guys think?  Am I being too lax in the defence of my people?

Oh no… here come more broad sweeping generalisation from people who I thought were my friends…

Every time America is in the news, I find myself unfriending someone else from  Facebook.  I’m starting to see a pattern here…

As we all now know, Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan – it’s big big big news.  Some people are celebrating, some are anxious about the possible retaliation that we have to prepare for and pretty much everyone I know is talking about it on Facebook.

Comments on my Facebook page are all fairly similar.  People are talking about Obama’s speech and several people have mentioned that they think this will cinch his re-election.  Anyway, it’s obvious that Bin Laden won’t be missed…

But there was also this:

Alright – place your bets. Who’s going to be the next bete noire for the USA? There must always be a figurehead to strike fear into the witless populace and make them willingly give up their freedom.

WHY do people think it’s ok to make broad sweeping generalisations about Americans??  If something like this was said about someone’s race, gender or sexuality it would be completely unacceptable.  But not the Americans… we’re open game to anyone with a chip on their shoulder.

The truth is, I expect to hear stupid comments like this sometimes – it’s all part of the joys of being an expat no matter where you live or where you’re from. The thing that throws me is when someone that I like(d) says crap like this…

Sigh…

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…

Defending the English when you’re not English

yankeebean

I feel like Alice through the looking glass… I have encountered the assholiest American of all time and I am PISSED OFF.  This must be how British people feel when they meet people like this… I’ve gone down the rabbit hole.

I’ll start at the beginning, shall I?

I’m in the States right now visiting family, and we went to see a friend of mine who was singing at a local bar.  They were pretty good and it was fun… UNTIL the guitar player thought he’d improvise a song about how bad England is and how wonderful America is.

It was HORRIFYING… And it went on for a LONG time… And Mr Nice Guy (who, in keeping with his title, is a very nice guy) was FURIOUS.  And so was I.  In fact, I still am – to the point that I’m still having imaginary fights with yankee-arse-face in my head.

OH, how I wish that was the end of the story… but no… no it’s not.

We saw him again on Sunday morning and this is how the conversation went (imagine his parts spoken in a really snotty assholy way)

Me: Hey man, how you doing?

Him: So what’s with moving to England?  What’s so great about England?

Me: Are you serious?  Have you ever been to England?

Him: Is America not good enough for you?  You’re too good for America now?

Me: Have you ever been to England?

Him: No.  But my friend has…

Me: Why are we even having this conversation?

Me and Mr Nice Guy got outta there pretty quickly after that.  I was bright red with embarrassed rage and Mr Nice Guy was steadily swearing under his breath.  Mr NG is a peaceful man, but I do think that if we saw him again he’d actually result to violence.  I bet this is how the American Revolution started…

I don’t know if I want this A-hole to leave the country so he can get a friggin’ CLUE, or if he should be forbidden from leaving so he doesn’t act as an anti-ambassador.

Please, dear readers – share you’re tales of woe with me.  I can’t be the only one who’s tried to defend their secondary nation…

What a jag-hole…

When random British people (that you’ve only just met) tell you what is wrong with America

yahooavatar15Imagine meeting a British person for the first time. Imagine introducing yourself, answering all the questions that you get asked as a foreigner– like having to tell your “America to England” story for the zillionth time. Now, imagine randomly saying to this British person that you have only just met that people in Britain have  bad teeth. Real, real, bad teeth.That you have never been to a country where people have such bad teeth. That you saw this one 15 year old kid on the train and you COULDN”T believe he had such BAD TEETH. Now I am sure you are horrified about doing that, right? No, that would be so rude!  Plus could you imagine the wrath? It is hard enough making female friends in Britain!

Well, for whatever reason, some British people love to point out America’s flaws to me during our first meeting. Like today–a 6o-ish woman from Harrogate decided to tell me that she had NEVER SEEN so much obesity in her life as when she went to America. That she was on this train where she saw this 15 year old kid and he was SO FAT! That she couldn’t believe how many obese people were in America. That she couldn’t imagine how unhealthy THOSE FAT PEOPLE OVER IN AMERICA are.

Running through my head as Mrs. Harrogate ranted at me: Hello? have you seen all the white muffin tops pouring out of jeans in Leeds City Centre  lately, honey? There are fat people here too, and it seems its getting worse according to obesity reports!”

I wish I were brave enough to say that!  But instead, while smiling politely I said “It is just a different lifestyle there, isn’t it? You must excuse me while I go get some milk for my tea…”

Now then, lovely readers! Why would someone decide to tell me this to me, an American? Am I responsible for America’s obesity? Do I even LIVE IN AMERICA anymore? How would I be an expert about America’s weight issues? (I have enough of my own!). Sometimes I think that I have to defend America all the time, and I am so tired of it. Please tell me that you have to take the ‘blame bullet’ too?

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P.S.  I don’t really think that all British people have bad teeth. That was used for example purposes only, and is used to represent a silly stereotype that people have of other countries.

P.S.S. I forgot to say that the afore mentioned lady from Harrogate had only visited Florida. And that was it!

P.S.S.S. On a ‘let’s blame America!’ related topic: Why are dinner parties with your British friends so much nicer now that Obama is in the White house? Click here

Your negativity is eating my brain… stop it, I NEED my brain

yankeebeanRecently we had another cracking comment from one of my fave readers, ‘I Love This Blog’ (don’t worry ILTB, you’re not the one eating my brain, more on that later).  On our post ‘My English man and our long distance relationship‘ She said:

I was just wondering how your loved ones reacted to your moving overseas for love? Not that it’s really affecting my decisions, but most, nay-ALL, of my closest friends are 100% against the idea and think I will either have my heart broken or be sorely disappointed.. The only ones who support my decision are the ones who are completely right-brained, completely romantic, and have no grasp of common sense or logic (so, it’s a little disheartening..)

How did you do it? Did you find a job first, or did you just up and move? I’m a little nervous!

So many memories (good/bad/ugly) flooded in when I read this comment.  When it came to hopping-the-pond for love, my heart and my head were pretty much always in agreement.  It was my FRIENDS of all freakin’ things that made me wanna panic, unpack, and apply to work in the nearest global food chain.

There was no shortage of negativity – it came pelting in from all angles.  Even my best friend showed her disapproval just by keeping her mouth shut about it (y’know, ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say’, yada yada yada).  Sometimes I felt like their negative monologues were actually burrowing into my brain… gross… too much information.

Negativity isn’t exactly what you NEED when you’re about to cram all of your belongings into two giant suitcases, say good-bye to your parents, hurtle through the air in a giant metal tube (I hate flying…), and stumble, bleary and unkempt, into the wonderful arms of ‘the reason for all this’.

I really de-railed a couple of times pre-move when my friends would launch in to a ‘This is never going to work and when it all comes crashing down you’ll be alone and penniless in a foreign country’ speeches.  SHUT UP, for God’s sake!!  I need SUPPORT right now!!  I’m about to move to a country that doesn’t even have a written form of their constitution!!  Can you freakin’ BACK ME UP for a minute here??  (That’s the sound of me derailing… sorry about the constitution snipe)

At the end of the day (to use a most-excellent English expression), none of it ultimately stopped me from boarding the giant metal tube… I mean plane.  I tried to apply an ‘I’m rubber and you’re glue’ attitude to the whole friend-negativity-eat-my-brain mutiny.  Did it work?  I have no idea, but here I am!  And it’s good… it’s REALLY good…

Oh yeah, about the job hunting – I did look before I arrived, but I didn’t actually land a job until I’d turned up.  I’m sure you’ll find just the thing!  And if you need a shoulder for leaning or an ear for bending, we’re here!

England, pet names, and you…

yankeebeanWe had a comment from ‘I Love This Blog’ (great name, by the way ;) ) about the pet names that are used in England and what we think about ‘em…

She said:

“Is it quite common for British men to use pet names such as “honey,” “dear,” or even “sweetie?”

First off, I absolutely detest pet names, I find them really generic (if there is to be a pet name I like it to have some story behind it). Secondly, as someone who is barely into her twenties, those particular words make me feel like I’m already over the hill and married for decades. Third.. Maybe it’s an American machismo thing but I’ve never heard men in their twenties use it! (I’m incredibly relieved it’s not “babe” or “baby”)

So.. just wondering.. is this considered normal or is my British man just the ultra sensitive type? :)

OOHHHHHHHHH, the times we’ve all had trying to interpret pet names and what they mean.  I often wonder how I SHOULD feel and try to measure it up against how it ACTUALLY MAKES me feel.  It’s very weird… like a brief out-of-body experience…

I oscillate back and forth about pet names…  There seem to be two major deciding factors that determine my gut-reaction to pet names:

The intonation

‘Love’, ‘Pet’, ‘Honey’, ‘Lover’, ‘Dear’, ‘Sweetie’… there’s not a doubt in my mind that you’ve heard them all.  But the intonation that’s used says a lot – A guy can say ‘alright, love?’ and it can mean any number of things:

  • “Hello”
  • “OK?”
  • “How are you?”
  • “Are you alright?”
  • “I think you’re hot”
  • “I think you’re hot and I think you think I’m hot”

It’s a smorgasbord of underlying meaning!  A man (or woman for that matter) could call me Love and it could almost go unnoticed… or (depending on the delivery) it could make me wanna go home a take a shower.

The second ‘major player’ in the do-pet-names-give-me-the-heebie-jeebies issue is a little easier to tie down.

The chosen pet name

There are certain pet names that just give me the creeps… One in particular is… drum roll, please:

Good Girl

GROSS!!!!   Eeeeeeeeewwwww!!!  Bleuggghhhhhh!!!

This is a rare one (thank God), but I’ve had English men (always men) say ‘Good Girl’ to me.  I’m 27!  I own and run two businesses!  It makes me feel like I should be wearing a pinafore with my hair in pig tails… yuck…

With ‘Good Girl’ (shudder) out of the way, that leaves two camps for me and pet names – The ones I don’t really mind and ones that are more likely to irk me a little.

I don’t really mind:

  • Love
  • Honey (Hun)
  • Anything ironic or comedic value like ‘crumpet’ or ‘doll face’ or something that’s obviously being said in jest

But I’m more likely to be irked by:

  • Sweetie (feel a little patronised)
  • Dear (ditto)
  • Darling (little too intimate)
  • Babe (greasy)
  • Lover (creates unwanted mental image)

I could go either way with ‘Poppet’…

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some… if you can think of any more, bring it on!

When I think about it, none of these names REALLY bug me that much (except ‘Good Girl’).  At the root of it all I know it’s just another thing that makes the English English… it does, however, remind me of one of my new mantras – ‘To each their own’. :)

Builders in Britain, the facts

yahooavatar15We’ve all been there. Walking down the street minding our own damn business when it happens. “Hi-ya Love, Cheer up!” or “Phwaaaa!” or “Nice legs!” or the worst: “Fancy a climb?” If you are like me, you avoid walking within 1o89 feet of a building site if possible. And you still probably get something shouted down from the scaffolding. No matter what the  hell you’re wearing, where you focus your eyes, well– any resemblance of having any female-ness you will be harassed. Who are these people, you ask? Oh darlings, they are the stereotypical British builder.

Builders enjoying yet another break in an ad to attract more builders to the trade.

Builders enjoying yet another break in an ad to attract more builders to the trade.

Frequently seen driving a white van, always running behind and over budget on your Ikea kitchen remodel, with The Sun‘s latest titty gal (always page 3) opened on his dash, shaven head, earring in the left (or is it right?) ear, generally in tatty old blue jeans.

There is something so ironic about those big burly builders in Britain. And it makes no sense to me. What is it? Its that builders here  take “tea breaks”. yes. You read correctly. TEA BREAKS.  They dutifully bring their little flasks to the jobsite everyday to sneak in their civilized cuppa. This generally occurs every hour, especially if its your house they are redoing. A strong cup with milk and two sugars makes the standard “builders brew” so I’ve learned.

This leads me to inform you that Builders have their own special tea here made especially for them called Make Mine a Builders.You can only buy it at Morrisons, (notice that Waitrose hasn’t decided to stock it, snobby little chain). And wait for it.. now there are even some Walker’s Crisps called “Builder’s Breakfast”. (No, you can’t buy those at Waitrose either). Despite food and tea catered for them… whatever, Builders in Britain generally tend to have bad reputations. Now, now, now… don’t think that I am prejudiced against builders. No way, my father is a builder-so I know all about those builders. But only American ones. British ones are a different breed that leave me confused, annoyed and wary.

Dear Mr. British Music Director at Posh British Academic Institution….

yahooavatar15Dear Music Director of a Posh Academic Institution in Yorkshire,

My name is Ms. Peaceful Yorkshire, and I write to see if you have any availability to teach harp in your music department. I hold a Masters Degree in harp performance from a Royal School and have numerous experiences in teaching at higher institutions worldwide.  As well as a dedicated teacher, I am an experienced harp performer as you can see by the numerous recitals and masterclasses listed on my CV, which I have attached for your perusal.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Kindest Regards,

Ms. Peaceful Yorkshire, Mmus

———————

SILENCE . Waiting. SILENCE. More SILENCE.

So. I. called. The new American gal freshly moved to Yorkshire needs to work, you know?

3 weeks after letter was sent.

ring ring

HIM: (In posh Queen’s English) Hello?

Me: (With American Accent) Hi, I am just calling to follow up on a letter I sent 3 weeks ago. You see, I am a harpist that has just moved to your area and have heard such great things about your music department. Would you needing any harp teaching this year?

Him: No. We are not interested. Then SLAMS DOWN PHONE.

Yes, readers, that was the conversation.

Me: Big sad Crying ensued… how dare he be so rude and hang up on me like I am some sort of annoyance! I am not some bum looking to clean the loos! Not even a chance to have a decent conversation!

Note to self… don’t ever deal with him or his music department again!

——————–

Fast forward to last week, which is 2 and a half years later:

Dear Ms. Peaceful Yorkshire,

We have never spoken before which is why I wanted to be in touch and introduce myself. My name is the posh music director at the poshest school in town. As you can see from our website, we are leaders in music education and are a progressive institution. Would you be interested in doing some teaching at my posh academic institution in Yorkshire? If so, please let me know, we will work around your schedule. We have heard so much about you, and your reputation is well-known. I do hope you would consider working with us, and can’t wait to meet you.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Warmest Regards,

The Music director at posh, Academic institution

—————-

Dear Music School Director at  posh Academic institution,
Thank you for your email.
I must say I was most surprised to receive it, as we had spoken briefly on the phone when I arrived in Yorkshire 2 and a half years ago– you do remember that we have spoke before? I sent you my CV and then phoned you as well. At that time you made it very clear you were not interested in my services. You actually hung up on me.

Since our last conversation I have taken up the post as principal instructor at another posh academic school (a rival) and I cannot help you at this moment.

With Regards,
Ms. Peaceful Yorkshire,  Mmus

———————

SILENCE (possibly forever from him!)

This incident just happened last week, fellow readers… and writing and then sending that letter never felt better.The rule of karma is active and alive in England… do share with us your British karmic experiences  too!