I know England quite well. Or so I believe. With my almost decade of regular stays in the UK I have started to notice a few things that are actually considered normal over here that would make other Europeans shiver- if only they were aware of them. The list is non exhaustive and I reserve all rights to add to it from time to time.
Let me give you an example. In England, when you’re about to receive visitors that you want to impress, you clear your home. You think I should have written ” clean”?. Big mistake. I meant what I said. I even read an article proudly intitulated once ” How to clean your whole house in 20 min “. I was – you bet- more than interested. I spend myself a minimum of 4 hours a day in domestic tasks so any advice is welcome. The article was quite short actually and quite simple; all you had to do was to gather all things that were on display and throw them under your bed. You were encouraged to take your clothes and flatten them on your mattress before covering them up with your duvet. Dusting and a quick passage with the vacuum cleaner where dirt was too obvious were on the cards. You had to close your bathroom door and pile all dirty dishes and glasses in the kitchen sink, that you’ d fill with water. Open windows and voila; your guests could knock on the door and you’ d open with an apology- you were just doing the dishes. THAT – according to the author who very surprisingly was a woman, and I hope when I say woman that she was not more than 20 years old- was cleaning. So I had here a first clue. I then heard stories of women who were receiving their parents for dinner and started frantically rubbing the sole of their boots on the carpet as it was gathering piles of dirt. How on earth did they discover that, it remains a mystery to me. I saw parties being thrown in houses that were dusty and and really not at their best; the hosts very nicely explained that the guests would mess it up anyway before the night would end, and probably one or more of them would get sick somewhere so why bother cleaning? That would be done after everybody was gone. Right. The notion of respect for the guests didn’t seem to play the slightest role in the decision. So that was one custom that I was almost shocked to discover; my home is my castle, they say, but they seem to imply that the caslte is still in its original condition and has been built more than 400 years ago. May I add, of course, that for most English people I am a sad sad maniac? I am even being offered cleaning products and books on the subject – as if I needed them. Or is it a hidden insult? Whatever that is, I can tell you this: my products are the best anyway. I get my bin bags and my window cleanimg products from Switzerland, my washing detergents from Italy and my scraping utensils from France. Can’t wait to go back to the US where they have nuclear powders and GM utensils. Just kidding.
The good point of all of this, of course, is that you can keep your shoes on everywhere and even put your feet up on the furniture, although this is more a US custom.
Next subject: personnal hygiene and food habits. That is one hell of a subject!

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