I saw this on the Telegraph website and it rang a few bells with me... I will be reading the book as it sounds like a good read!
A communications breakdown means crossed lines with the new breed of Brits abroad
Storms are a darn sight stiffer here in rural France than in Blighty. You really do get the full King Lear: the sky lit up with shafts of magnesium; the thunder exploding with the roar of a bunker-buster aimed straight at the front door. To date, I have lost three modems and four cordless phones. Claude, the electrician with the strong forehand, has expensively installed a parafoudre on La Folie's main fuse box, but since the phone line is still unprotected, this is a bit like building a moat around your château and then forgetting to raise the drawbridge.
Today, there are perhaps 30 people crammed into the France Télécom shop in St Juste, all clutching fried Liveboxes like mine. In the corner, I recognise Guillaume from the aeroclub: a delightful mint humbug of a man, with owl glasses and a permanent smile. I'm surprised to hear someone shouting at him. First surprised, then mortified. For the person is shouting in English.
"Nah, nah, don't give me that." A wiry little man, as wired as a Jack Russell, is yapping at Guillaume's ankles. "Get out of my face. No, no, no!" He actually stamps his foot, which is something I thought people only did in fairy stories. Unfortunately, foot-stamping loses some authority when conducted in open sandals.
"I just say," Guillaume murmurs in broken English, still smiling, "that you must telephone for number before you come here."
"Well, I'm not dealing with you, am I? I'm dealing with 'im." The Jack Russell jabs his finger at the man behind the desk, who sighs and announces in French: "If anyone here speaks English, would they mind explaining to this gentleman that he must ring the technicians on 3900 to get a docket number before we can replace his Livebox?" I feel myself shrinking. I am already six inches shorter than I was when I entered the shop, and getting smaller all the time.
"Non, non," snaps Jack Russell, stamping his sandal once more. "Nous parlez française. Et nous voudrais service."
My heart sinks, for I recognise this man. I have seen his type often enough in London: the person who will complain in a restaurant "on principle", even though it may spoil the evening of everyone he's with. And then, to my relief, a huge grizzly bear of a man calls out, in an accent that is two parts German to one part American: "You've got to phone, man. Otherwise they're not doing nothing. And it takes minimum fife hours."
"It's all right," yaps JR, who has been handed a cordless phone by the man behind the desk. "I'm using their phone to make the call. It's at their expense." He looks exultant.
I have often heard local people observing that the type of Brits who are moving to France has begun to change; that a new breed of immigrant is emerging. "Have you noticed it?" they ask. I have. But I don't like to say so, because there's no way for me to say it without becoming the kind of snooty nimby who somehow thinks I'm less awful than the rest.
What I will say is this: when I see English people going into shops in France, and asserting their place in the queue with elbows and insults, and shouting at shop assistants, and talking amongst themselves about the French as if they cannot understand them, then I feel no sense of kinship with these abrasive ambassadors for England's much-vaunted values of tolerance and politeness.
No, I feel far more at one with those gentle local people who are not accustomed to shouting to make themselves heard, or to making a scene in order that others may have a due sense of their importance. And I wish that the likes of Jack Russell could see that everyone here - Guillaume, the man behind the desk, French people generally - is already on his side, at least until he begins to fight.
'C'est La Folie' by Michael Wright is available for just £9.89 + shipping click here to buy! You will find this book under the Novel section.