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batch no. 4

May 12, 2011

Britt asks: Here’s a question for you, something I have put some thought into myself as someone who has spent lots of time in the UK. I also think your perspective would be interesting since you’ve lived in so many places in Canada. My question: what are your observations of Canadian culture vs. British culture? What defines Canadian culture, or makes it uniquely Canadian? What have you noticed about British culture? What are some things you love and/or hate about either? What will you miss about Canada when you move? XO!

I’ve definitely had time to observe our friends from across the pond and think about what it means to be Canadian over the past couple years. I am very proud to be Canadian and I love everything about this country (with the exception of our recently elected Prime Minister. Really Canada?) Beyond the clichés (our love of hockey, namely), I don’t think there is such a thing as a prototypical Canadian. Perhaps that’s what I like about us. Canadian culture is multicultural. We are a rich ethnic mosaic; as diverse as our wild landscape from coast to coast and I like to think that we embrace those differences though our nation feels a little politically divided at the moment.  I suppose our cultures are more regional. A Québécois is not an Albertan is not a Newfie. But overall, we are a peaceful, friendly, accepting, quiet bunch, not up in everyone’s business. And since lifestyle is influenced by environment, I’d say that many of us Canadians (outside of the big cities) do have that rugged, outdoorsy je ne sais quoi. Think Roots ad meets Molson Canadian commercial and you’ll have a general idea of what a Canadian looks like in its natural habitat.

As for things I noticed about British Culture :

  • Tea time is very real. “Fancy a cup of tea?”, can be heard most anywhere midday, from the cottage by the sea to the swanky office in Soho.
  • They really do spend a substantial amount of their waking hours in pubs.
  • The importance of seating arrangements does my head in. I’ve been invited to several dinners and Sunday roasts and the hosts always assign designated seats. I’m not even talking about dinner with geriatrics. No, these people are my age. Even younger. We are generally seated in a boy, girl, boy, girl fashion and spouses are not allowed to sit next to each other. I think it’s to ensure that everyone mingles but I’m more of a “sit wherever you want” kind of girl and it always takes me by surprise when someone says “Jeanine, you go sit over there.
  • But you musn’t ever grumble, as they say. They are notorious for keeping their complaints in check.
  • Besides, that’s how they’ve always done it– a statement that says it all. How entrenched in old school propriety they are. It’s in their genes, they can’t help it. I’m all for politeness, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t raised in a barn and I’m not a savage. I have table manners and all. But when things get stuffy, I have strange rebellious urges to purposefully put my elbows on the table.
  • The first time I went to visit the British Boy, his family asked me if I was alright on a daily. And I was all, Yes, I’m fine thank you. Why? Do I not look alright? Eventually, Joe explained to me that it was a simple greeting like hello and not a question of concern.
  • The class system is still very much alive in England and I’ve found myself uncomfortable on occasion discussing my background. I personally couldn’t care less about your lineage or how much money your family has, so long as you are a good person. A jack ass is a jack ass no matter what class they were born in.

Things I love about the Brits/England?

  • The accent. Is there anything sexier than a British accent, except perhaps, Robert Downy Junior with a British Accent?
  • Humour is the cornerstone of the British society. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Brit that didn’t have me cracking up within minutes of meeting them. They joke about absolutely everything, including themselves and you. The incessant teasing can get exasperating at times but your ability to be the brunt of a good joke is what can make or break you in the UK. Besides, one should never take themselves too seriously.
  • The beauty of their country (the landscape, the history).
  • The pubs. I too look forward to spending most of my waking hours at the pub.
  • Their expressions. I reckon I’ll be picking up British expressions faster than a Canadian can crack open a Molson X.
  • Their transport system. So easy to hop on a train and go almost anywhere in the UK without breaking the bank.
  • Top Gear. Shut up! I love it and there isn’t anything I can do about it.
  • The kindness of the people I’ve met. Such generosity of spirit.

As for what I will miss most about Canada when I leave, I’ll be publishing such a post over at Gypsy Girls’ Guide on the 19th. Stay tuned.

Charlane asks: i suck at this game because when i read your blog i am a bit delusional too and imagine us sitting at a cafe or a little bar somewhere and you’re telling me of your adventures. i imagine that you use your hands a lot when you talk because i sense your joy with life. that could be just my imagination. or is it. do you use your hands to talk? i couldn’t talk without using mine – must be the irish in me….or is the the cornish influence? it’s certainly not the native american. :) and oh…do you dance alone in your kitchen while listening to katrina and the waves “walking on sunshine?”

You know, I actually had to ask a friend if I talk with my hands because I never really noticed. As it turns out, it’s not something that I really do. At least, not on a regular basis. I am, however, rather expressive with my face.

As for dancing alone in my kitchen? All the time, baby. Not to “Walking on sunshine” but to countless other tunes. It’s a weekly occurrence Chez Casa Caron.

Elisabelle asks: silly question (and not original!): if you had to keep just one CD, which one would it be?

Oh! Woman! You are killing me here. I suppose it would have to be something I can’t just buy anywhere, something of sentimental value. About 8 years ago, when I left Montreal to live in Nova Scotia, my dear friend Collin gave me a mixed CD.  The boy knows his music so it’s a hell of a treat to get a mix from Mr. Henry. But this time he really went the extra mile and created a mix that was based on a love theme. Every song was full of love and with it, came a beautiful booklet with photos of friends and snippets of funny emails exchanged between us throughout the year (5 things we want to accomplish before we die, type of thing).  I cried in the restaurant when he gave it to me.

I’ve posted the mix here, if you wish to hear it.

Adam asks: What do you have for bathroom reading material?

The latest issue of Uppercase Magazine.

Steph asks: What’s your favourite movie? And your favourite ’80s hair band – assuming you were into that scene at the time? ps – I’ve no illusions about winning the prize for the most original question, but I already have one of your prints for naming your travelling pig. I am content.

Favourite movie. Dang! That’s a tough one. It’s a toss up between Amélie (for beauty), anything by Wes Anderson (for genius) and Breakfast Club (for nostalgia).

As for favourite 80’s hair band… I’m pretty sure I rocked out to Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me on more than one occasion at the school dance. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I suffered some teen crisis involving a boy, which may have led to me belting out Love Bites through bitter tears. Because 12-year old girls always sing about making love. It was a tough life for a teenager in the 80’s. Everybody knows that the coolest girls in school were the ones with mile high bangs. It was all about the volume, people, of which I had none. I mean, in the age of HAIR, mine was so thin that all my measly can of cheap hair spray could hold up was a little rainbow shaped bang, no more than an inch high, no matter how much I teased the fucker. But at least I had enough rubber bracelets to cover my entire arm and neon shirts that could blind you from a mile away.

Sophie asks: Ahem…. what will you name youse and the Brit Hottie’s first sproglet? (nameS if it’s twins?) (Because you’re thinking about it – while you practice writing Brit’s last name after yours…)

Funny you should mention this because I was just thinking about children last weekend and how there MUST be some truth to this thing scientists call a biological clock because I assure you that until very recently I was very adamant about NOT having children. EVER. So it’s either the tick tock of eggs drying up or this love thing that is seriously screwing with my hormones and leaving me thinking “It might not be such a bad thing to have kids.” I mean, they’d have cute little British accents and say things like “Mummy, do penguins have knees?” and who in their right mind can resist such adorableness?

Regarding names, as I said, I’ve only ever thought of dog names in the past because I assumed my “kid” would be of the furry, quadruped variety. I suppose I’ve always loved the name Jack for a boy. Monosyllabic, strong, friendly, happy. And Alice for a girl.

Next post, I answer your last batch of questions, after which I might take a little blogging sabbatical to prepare for the big move across the pond.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. safski permalink
    May 12, 2011 9:08 am

    girl, you make me laugh – thank you 🙂

  2. May 12, 2011 9:28 am

    I can’t wait to listen to the mix!!!!
    Thank you!

  3. Helena permalink
    May 12, 2011 12:43 pm

    Reading the answers to these great questions is such a great way to get to know you better. Love it! Wish Toronto wasn’t quite so far so we could meet for a drink before you move across the pond. 🙂

  4. Ashley Erin permalink
    May 12, 2011 5:16 pm

    Hear hear to Canadian culture! (Though, like you said, not to our Prime Minister. ick.)
    My fiance’s dad is British and as such he always spells mom with a ‘u’. I’ve decided that when we have kids, I’m going to teach them to spell it with a ‘u’ also. Because you’re right, “Mummy, do penquins have knees?” just makes my heart melt.

  5. May 13, 2011 7:35 am

    Ok wait, when/where/how did I miss the post of the official news of moving?!?!

  6. Alison permalink
    May 13, 2011 5:33 pm

    I hope “they” do call you mummy and you’d make such a good one. I love this post. I still love watching Breakfast Club because it reminds me of you girls. And I love your Brit list. And I love you.

  7. May 13, 2011 8:27 pm

    It’s interesting to hear that people really say the “fancy a cup of tea?” 🙂

  8. May 14, 2011 10:04 am

    it’s always fun to know these things – me, i’m a hand talker, especially when i find myself at a loss for words. however, dancing for general joy to a great tune is always the best. not that walking on sunshine is a great tune but it always seems to set a happy mood.

  9. Britt Gullick permalink
    May 16, 2011 12:21 pm

    Oh Jeanine! Your responses were as thoughtful as the great questions your readers posted. I can’t wait to read about your overseas adventures! Wishing you luck and love, and safe, happy travels! xo

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