A footnote, which glosses “model[s] of conviviality and sociality” British and not-British, from The Impostume’s latest post:
*Outside ULU last week there was a Brit/Non-Brit split perfectly exemplified. Two girls were introduced to French guy by a mutual Spanish friend. Hello, they said , then immediately turned to each other and began talking furiously about an absent third party who would be joining them later as the French guy stood there looking surprised and awkward. Their eyes locked on each other they went breathlessly gabbling on, desperate to maintain the little, fearful bubble of private space until the French guy, realising he wasn’t going to get a word in stepped heavily back a few paces and began looking distractedly around, pretending he was intrigued by the ebb and flow of the crowd. The two English girls visibly relaxed, the tension went out of their postures: thank god, thank god, now we won’t have to find out anything about him until we’re good and drunk in a few hours time.
Yeah, that seems just about right. It is a bit hard to understand, and you can start to feel a bit hurt and weird until you do. Phew.
Still, it dawns on me that, despite my thirty year run from birth to expatriation in the US, somehow I grew up essentially British as far as this matter goes (The complexities of being myself the offspring of Commonwealth expats, non-anglophilic but Victorian to the core, has something to do with this, and much else that I’m slowly sorting out) but British in a non-British milieu. Thus, rather than an implicit mutually-agreed taciturnity until pints and glasses, I was allowed to be taciturn amidst chattering friendly types… Here, faced with a populace of people that are basically just like me to one degree or another when it comes to striking things up, starting things off, well, things get tricky and sometimes stuck and worrisome.
I’ll sort it out. It dawned on my wife and me the other night that, now that our kids are actually growing up here, there’s a likelihood that unless something undeniably perfect were to draw us back, we’ll probably end up lifers. Kids cut the whim and access to arbitrary out of your life – we couldn’t even move to a different neighborhood at this point without landing them, say, in worst school in Camden council or whatever. So I’ll have to sort it out.
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