August 08, 2004

Neither Here Nor There...
I'm reading "Neither Here nor There" by Bill Bryson. It's about his travels around Europe, after having lived in England for a while. There's one paragraph that I love, so I thought I'd quote it for you...
I'm not knocking any Europeans, because I know there are a lot of stupid things we do here in North America. I just thought it was a funny passage in the book.
And yet there are some things that most countries do without difficulty that others cannot get a grasp of at all.
The French, for instance, cannot get the hang of queuing. They try and try, but it is beyond them. Wherever you go in Paris, you see orderly lines waiting at bus stops, but as soon as the bus pulls up the line instantly disintegrates into something like a fire drill at a lunatic asylum as everyone scrambles to be the first aboard, quite unaware that this defeats the whole purpose of queuing.
The British, on the other hand, do not understand certain of the fundamentals of eating, as evidenced by their instinct to consume hamburgers with a knife and fork. To my continuing amazement, many of them also turn their fork upside-down and balance the food on the back of it. I've lived in England for a decade and a half and I still have to quell an impulse to go up to strangers in pubs and restaurants and say, "Excuse me, can I give you a tip that'll help stop those peas bouncing all over the table?"
Germans are flummoxed by humour, the Swiss have no concept of fun, the Spanish think there is nothing at all ridiculous about eating dinner at midnight, and the Italians should never, ever have been let in on thee invention of the motor car.

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