SHEDNOTES 17: ON NATIONAL TYPES

In case The Shed gets a commission to edit The Readers’ Digest, it has filed an enjoyable set of stereotypes sketched by Anthony Peregrine, writing from France as Lerosbif, in Teleg 27.9.14, about how different nationalities behave as tourists.
Find the full article at http://tinyurl.com/lzbz6j/
A summary follows.
“Germans may be seen eating dinner at 5.30pm which, for Spaniards, is just after breakfast. Finns are barely controllable. And Dutchmen look unconvincing in kilts, even (especially) in a Scottish bar in Amsterdam.”
Also …
AMERICANS
“First thing is to distinguish American from Canadian tourists. This is not always easy. Both favour crisp leisure wear (‘yacht club casual’), both have a relaxed, ambling holiday manner and both appear confident in most circumstances, as long as those circumstances are coming at them in English and involve someone reliable whom they can tip.
“A Canadian I approached advised: ‘Ask the person who the prime minister of Canada is. If he knows the PM’s name (Stephen Harper), he’s Canadian; if he doesn’t, he’s American. Americans don’t know a damned thing about Canada.’
“A further distinguishing feature is that US ladies have voices that split sheet metal.
“Other than that, and contrary to hideous clichés, the mainly senior Americans I’ve met have been witty, clever, knowledgeable and with a fine balance between naivety (‘You said 500 years old?’), humility (‘Thankyou, sir’) and that sense of entitlement which comes from access to yacht club casual wear. And they’re interested in everything, lemon sorbets through medieval town gates, but especially what you thought of Houston, Texas, last time you were there.”
CANADIANS
“In my recent experience, Canadians have been quieter and more softly-spoken than Americans. This may be because the US makes enough noise for both. Canadians have not only heard of, but actually understand Fawlty Towers.
“Canadians are far too polite to point out that all the European forests, lakes and mountains we take them to see wouldn’t count as a back-garden back home. Americans may be in thrall to the bigness of their land. Canadians just get on with thanking the Lord they were born the right side of the border. They would like to point out that, though Céline Dion is Canadian, so is Leonard Cohen.”
FRENCH
“French tourists move through other peoples’ countries as if subjecting them to an examination. Watch them studying a menu. They aren’t so much using it to make meal choices as marking it out of ten. Wherever they happen to be is tested against some undefined, but very high, French standard. You will find them laughing with happy surprise on discovering that Denmark has museums or that dumplings are edible – as they would at the unexpected prowess of slightly backward children.”
CHINESE
“Chinese holidaymakers are small, found in groups and smile constantly. They don’t half cheer Europe up. Tour guides steer them towards things like the Loire châteaux, for which – with enormous politeness – they evince not the slightest interest. And why would they? Renaissance monarchs are as mysterious to them as the Shang dynasty is to us.
“The châteaux serve only as stepping stones to what the Chinese really like to do. And that’s shop. One often encounters, around Avenue Montaigne in Paris, little pyramids of stiff, shiny shopping bags apparently proceeding along the pavement under their own volition. Closer inspection shows they conceal microscopic Chinese ladies singlehandedly saving France’s balance of payments.”
JAPANESE
“There is one sure sign of Japaneseness in women. It is that, if ever there is the slightest threat of sunshine, they all carry parasols.”
GERMANS
“German tourists face two problems. The first is their language. The 25-yard-long words, bristling with hard consonants, undoubtedly raise hackles outside of Germany. The second is that they win everything. German visitors I’ve met handle this with good humour, modesty and significant amounts of beer. Where I’ve been, they have a discreet presence on the beach. But they still win at volley-ball.”
ITALIANS
“Undoubtedly, the best-looking tourists. There may be ugly Italians but, if so, they don’t let them out of the country.”
SPANISH
“The noisiest of all holidaymakers. I’ve heard them drown out Mass in St Peter’s. They also eat at times when no-one else is eating (3.45pm, 11.28pm, etc).”
BRITISH
“The politest and most appreciative of all visitors to foreign parts, until things go badly wrong. They will insist quite shirtily, for instance, that their draught beer is filled up to the line.”
SCOTTISH
“Expect to see them next year in Catalonia, Quebec and Corsica – bare-chested, chanting and puzzled beyond measure as to where they are or how they got there.”

endsfornow

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