Often abroad I feel a great sense of pride being English when I see people of other nationalities jostling to be at the head of every queue.
This year however, I felt dismayed, disheartened and down right appaled at the way English people were when I was on holiday in Italy this summer.
I went with a friend, and as we were both young, we were immediately put in our place about letting our elders go before us. But it seems our elders when on holiday seem to forget the concept of a queue, and we had to wait over two hours to book an excursion because old English people felt the need to push and shove in front of us, having the audacity to tut ‘youths of today’ as we stood patiently and waited.
Being the patient well mannered Britons I believed us all to be, we simply sat and waitied until all the pushing, shoving and impatience had subsided enough to let it be our turn. but by no means was this a freak occurence.
Everywhere we went, German, French, Spanish and Italian people opened doors, waved us in front and queued politely and orderly dispelling the myth of the pushy impatient stereotype of foreigners on holiday. Instead it was english people on holiday, letting the side down.
It was disappointing to see our nation let down by rude, ignorant people. After the way we Britons stuck together after the London bombings, helping each other out and caring for strangers, purely because they were fellow Brits in need of help, it was such a shame to see these values simply left on english soil any any trace of manners disolved.
British tourists assume everyone speaks English and makes no effort to speak the local language, wherever they may be. One Brit standing in a queue (invariably in front of me), demanded a hot chocolate- shouting the words slowly like the cashier was stupid.
When the man looked puzzled and then angry, I stepped in, not even being an Italian speaker, and used what little Italian I could to ask politely for a hot chocolate. The man understood, smiled to say thank you for trying, and got her her hot chocolate. A little bit goes a long way. Even if you only learn the basics like please, thank you and goodbye, why should they have to speak English to us?
Britons and Americans are very lucky. I love foreign languages and travelling abroad to get the chance to try speaking another language and experiencing a different culture. Unlike most English people, I don’t demand to have the entire native population learn English before the plane touches down, instead I make the effort to learn a few phrases instead of shouting and gesticulating wildly to get what I want. Even a very little effort will go a long long way.
I was appaled to find that British tourists came across rude, arrogant and monolingual and it is embarrassing to admit but I have been ashamed to be British.
What has become of good natured, well mannered english folk?
It was always the Germans who were rude, impatient and aggressive. And we good natured, well mannered english folk had come to deal with the fact that other people would fight to be first in the queue, first on the boat, the bus, the plane, even first in the toilet queue. But we had learned to deal with that. English people have learned to live with the fact that there will always be people who are rude and need to be in front of you at all times, but we simply let them, preferring to form an orderly queue and get where we were going when everyone who clearly needed to get there long before anyone else got there.
But these traditional ways of thinking seem to have been brushed to one side as we have become those who we despised. We have become the jostling, pushy, ignorant, rude foreigners who have to be first for everything. And it is a disgrace. The next time i go on holiday I hope to find well-mannered, polite British tourists who respect the culture of the place they are visiting and make the effort- just a little bit- to speak the language, even if you only learn the basics like please, thank you and goodbye. Why should they have to speak English to us? We are not a superior race, and we will do well to remember that. Lets remember the example we set after the London bombings and be kind and courteous to one another no matter what country we are in.