Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Gateway to Europe

Whilst I was away, I observed something.

I observed that we and our European neighbours all behave very differently, but in quite minute ways. Sometimes adhering to a stereotype, and other times, not, but always following a theme.

I believe my observations can best be illustrated thus:

Picture a public garden, enclosed by a low fence, allowing everyone inside the garden to see out and everyone outside to see in. In the fence is a gate. Several people are walking from different directions to the gate and reach it roughly at the same time.

The Frenchman gets to the gate first. He opens it, walks through, and releases it to swing shut. He appears oblivious to everyone else in the garden. He slouches away without looking left or right.

The Englishman is next. As he gets to the gate, he apologises to everyone else, then holds the gate open in a slightly awkward way, and waits for everyone else. He is visibly vexed by the fact that this is happening, but too anxious to do anything about it, so he stands there, peeking at his watch from time to time.

The German man is a few back in the crowd, but he realises that he's not going to win and puts a spurt on. He consequently gets to the gate next, having barged some people to the ground. As he pushes through the gate, he pauses to look around and see if he's missing anything, then starts a new race ... in his head.

The Italian approaches, looks at the Englishman in a mildly suggestive way, but says nothing as he walks through the open gate. He exudes a confidence that makes everyone else stare slightly. When half way through the gate, at the point when he is in most people's way, he stops to have a chat with a friend, and reacts not at all to attempts to ask him to move.

The Spaniard is last. He strolls to the gate and issues warm smiles to everyone. When he gets to the gate, he seamlessly takes it from the Englishman and waves him away. He then walks through himself, and is thanked by all the other gate users for his time.

It's just the way I saw it. I'm not saying it's ALWAYS the same. Just ... y'know ... that's they way I saw it.

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