Stop th­ese old-fash­ioned stereo­types of the English

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

IWISH the so-called ex­perts who are stuck in a time-warp and who keep par­rot­ing phrases which may have been true decades ago, would get up to date. read this week again that we should com­plain more. That we are a timid lot.

Vic­to­ria Wood used to joke that the out­raged English just go ‘tut’ and shrug their shoul­ders. Not any­more.

At one of the phone shops in Uxbridge the other day a man who had gone in to com­plain that his phone wasn’t work­ing prop­erly (fair enough) sud­denly started yelling his head off and thump­ing the counter (hmm). It seems that staff are used to this kind of be­hav­iour. They were ad­mirably cool, even though he was still hav­ing a noisy tantrum – he would say ‘com­plain­ing’ – half an hour later when we left the shop.

Many Bri­tish hol­i­day-mak­ers never stop com­plain­ing. When we were on a world cruise two years ago, and away for nearly four months, we learned that the staff (well out of earshot) com­peted for the most ridicu­lous com­plaint of the week.

The best one was from a woman who had said her wa­ter had been poured too slowly. The cabin stew­ards, wait­ers and crew were po­lite and hard­work­ing, while the grump­ies had ex­pres­sions which only ever ranged from dis­ap­prov­ing to to­tal out­rage.

It was ridicu­lous, par­tic­u­larly as gen­uine prob­lems were al­ways taken se­ri­ously and there was rarely a need for any dra­mat­ics.

Even fun­nier – and I’ve heard this twice in the last few days – is that as a na­tion we’re very ret­i­cent about talk­ing about sex. What? I think there is so much anal­y­sis of ev­ery as­pect of the sub­ject in TV, ra­dio, re­al­ity shows, mag­a­zines, that peo­ple are fed up with hear­ing about it.

Ex­perts/par­rots still blame ev­ery­thing from sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases to promis­cu­ity, on too much, or too lit­tle, sex ed­u­ca­tion at school. They can’t even make their minds up which.

At my all-girls’ school, re­pro­duc­tion was ex­plained by telling us about frogs in a bi­ol­ogy les­son and I don’t think I was dam­aged for life. I’d never eat a frog’s leg though.

Do you think that pub­lic moan­ing is out of con­trol or do you agree that we should speak up more? What are your bug­bears? Email me at bmail­bar­bara@gmail.com.

And, yes, be­fore any­one points it out, I do re­alise that I’ve spent the whole col­umn … com­plain­ing.

Catch up on http://www. getwest­lon­don.co.uk/au­thors/ bar­bara-fisher/

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