To feel cross with my "Britain-bashin g" friend

(146 Posts)
branflake81 Tue 17-Jun-08 10:46:02

I have a good friend from the Czech Republic. She has lived here for two years and does not intend to stay forever.

She is generally lovely and we get on really well. I don't have a huge social circle so value her frienship a lot. Except for one thing - she is always moaning about Britain.

According to her, everthing is rubbish. The food, the scenery, the housing etc etc. Now I don't consider myself to be a particulary patriotic person and recognise that this country has its faults but it is really starting to wind me up. I almost feel as though she has strode into my living room and started dissing my curtains, if that doesn't sound ridiculous.

I sometimes feel on the point of snapping at her to just "go home" if things are really that shit here which is AWFUL blush

I am surprised I feel like this since I don't generally feel allegiance to my country, perhaps it's just her negativity.

Should I say something or just keep biting my tongue?

I think "fuck off home if you don't like it" would be a suitable response

InLoveWithSweeneyTodd Tue 17-Jun-08 10:52:23

Why is she over here? I assume is for employment reasons.
When I feel like moaning about Britain I always remember it's the country that gave me a decent job and a career.
Just aks her to remind you why she's over here.

fryalot Tue 17-Jun-08 10:54:03

It's okay for us to complain about our own country/town/settee because it is ours, but for someone (an outsider)to complain about the country/town/settee is hugely offensive.

Perhaps she feels so at home, and feels that it is her country now, so she can complain about it?

Would you be offended if someone from, say, Hemel Hempstead complained about the food, scenery, housing etc... I am guessing you wouldn't, unless they were complaining about something specifically related to your town, in which case you would feel exactly the same.

I don't think you should say anything though!

That's rude. And also wrong. She needs to go for a walk in the Yorkshire Dales eating a scone with cream and jam while listening to the Beatles/Arctic Monkeys/Elgar according to taste and then tell me it's horrible grin

branflake81 Tue 17-Jun-08 10:58:20

Squonk - I don't think she feels at home here at all. She always prefacing complaints with "British people...."

I know I shouldn't say anything but it's hard sometimes.

mollysawally Tue 17-Jun-08 10:58:29

YANBU.

Agree with the fact that she should remember why she's here before she starts slagging us off.. although I should imagine 90% of what she says is probably true .. just don't tell her that!

CrushWithEyeliner Tue 17-Jun-08 10:58:39

god this makes me angry - at uni all the foreign students would go on about how cold/ shitty awful the UK was and I would go red with anger. Later a lady I worked with was the same - she complained so much about having her baby in the hospital here , I actually remember her catchphrase "this would never happen in Belgrade!". She was in a lovely job with an incredible boss who bent over backwards to help her in every way.

All these people who complain about our weather come from countries where you actually cannot stay in the main cities during the summer because of stifling (dangerous) heat angry.

My nanny is from Romania and she loves it here because it's not 40 degrees for weeks on end.

CrushWithEyeliner Tue 17-Jun-08 11:00:38

I also think it is unbelievably rude to complain about Britan in front you. Think about how she would feel if you started to slag off people from the CR to her. I think you should ask her how this would feel maybe it will make her think.

Bucharest Tue 17-Jun-08 11:01:49

YANBU at all......

Libra Tue 17-Jun-08 11:01:50

I sympathise.
This has been a major bone of contention throughout our long marriage.

DH is Danish and for a long time his complaints and criticism about anything focused around the Britishness of the product/person. While you or I might say: 'that plumber was really bad' or even 'we can't find a good plumber around here', he would say 'British plumbers are bad'. It drives me insane. He left Denmark thirty years ago and - in the opinion of myself and our Danish friends - preserves an artificial view of the country washed in 70s liberalism. He has admitted himself that he probably could not go and live there now.

I have tried to tackle the issue by pointing out when he does it, and over time the message seems to have sunk in. Having said that, we seem to import a tremendous amount of stuff from Denmark 'because it is better' - the last being something to go on the chimney to improve draught. We have imported toilet seats before now.

I think it is the natural response of the expat to think that the things they were brought up with are the best. It is bloody irritating for the rest of us though, and I can only recommend a calm and repetitive approach: 'No, that plumber was bad. We can not find a good plumber, but there are probably good plumbers out there. I am sure there are bad plumbers in Denmark too...'

I think if you count her as a good friend in other ways, you should just politely point out that it is your country she is constantly insulting, and that she would not like it if you made such remarks about her homeland. She can think what she likes, but it is rude of her to say it constantly in front of you.

Oh yes, we had a nanny once from Belgrade who would tell me they had to leave the city in August because the pavements actually melted in the heat, she'd then complain she didn't get enough of a tan here.

I gave her short shrift.

branflake81 Tue 17-Jun-08 11:07:59

Yes Libra - that's exactly it!

We walked past a really nice house the other day and she said "oh well, English houses are always visible from public footpaths, there's no privacy".

What she should have said was "THAT ONE PARTICULAR HOUSE THAT HAPPENS TO BE IN ENGLAND is visible from the footpath".

Gosh, this is very cathartic....

choosyfloosy Tue 17-Jun-08 11:12:22

God she sounds rude. Very hard. it's exhausting to go the Pollyanna route but it can help - 'Gosh I love being able to see people going past from my house, it makes me feel much more secure and part of a community, do houses in the CR have no windows? Aren't you terrified and isolated if you can't see people at all?'

However, I'd imagine she values your friendship very much too, if she is so miserable here.

Better just go to films and extremely loud clubs, so she can't talk...

I lived in the UK for 8 yrs and yes I complained. I knew it was wrong but I did. It doesn't stem from rudeness or ungratefulness or not recognizing the (many, in case of the UK) qualities of the country that is generously hosting you, it stems from homesickness. It stems from recognizing how huge are the cultural differences from countries that are so geographically close (I'm from Italy, so not the other side of the world) and it stems from loneliness.
I learnt in the years to bite my tongue, depending also with whom I was talking to. Plus the longer I lived in the UK, the more I appreciated its qualities.

ps: why is she complaining about the scenery???

Libra Tue 17-Jun-08 11:18:49

We have a Danish au pair coming in August too, so I had better start practising gritting my teeth again.

It's the blanket coverage that really gets you down isn't it? Interestingly, since we have moved to Scotland, DH is more likely to say 'Well in England these things are bad, but in Scotland it is much better'. I am encouraging this more positive approach.

I must admit that I treasure the one or two products that he has allowed that the British do better than the Danes. I bring these examples up All the Time. A certain sort of washing up brush being the only pathetic example I can think of. We export them to his mothers in Denmark...

DeeRiguer Tue 17-Jun-08 11:20:49

its up to you to get into whatever country you are in and get something out of it
do you think she is just moany in any language/ location? grin

would be tempted to ask what i ask ds in these situs..tell me what you do like then?

sounds very negative peeps to be around
if your only here for the beer keep gob shut and travel a bit look around
am not patriotic at all but have lived other places countries and it is your responsibilty to enjoy yourself whereever i think i hate this unless person is witty with it..

Mercy Tue 17-Jun-08 11:22:51

Good point Franca.

WHen I first met my dh, he and his 2 other Kiwi mates would do the same thing (I would regularly trot out the 'so if your country is so great why don't you go back etc'). NZ is obviously pretty similar to the UK in many ways but it is a looooooong way away.

Many years later dh will still come out with the odd unfavourable comparison but I realise that he may still not understand some aspects of British culture and yes, as you say, he is homesick at times. Even though he never wants to return there!!

WilyWombat Tue 17-Jun-08 11:25:48

She doesnt sound very nice why is she a friend?

I am patriotic much as it IS out of fashion and I am afraid it would annoy the hell out of me.

The UK has some beautiful scenery and some hellish...depends on where you are. British people moan about everything but pull together like no one else in times of need. Housing...you get what you pay for and yes it is expensive - where there is less work the property WILL be cheaper or it wouldnt sell would it.

I think the problem is the UK is being portrayed as the land of plenty and it really isnt.

Have you asked why she doesnt go home if the UK is so abhorrent?

I have a really long list of things I loved about the UK... but would forget them after 4 days of rain hmm grin.

Guess what, now that I'm back to Italy (which by the way it's extremely easy to criticize) I so miss the uk and lecture my friends about all the things that are done better over the pond... grin

ib Tue 17-Jun-08 11:29:01

The honest truth is the UK is hard to live in - for all it's positive qualities.

Dh and I both love the UK (we were both brought up abroad) but when we lived there we were constantly moaning, because it's the everyday things that get you down.

In the end we decided to leave before we fell out of love with the place. Now we can go back and enjoy all it's fantastic qualities without caring about the everyday irritations.

mollysawally Tue 17-Jun-08 11:43:10

Its always intresting to me what others hate about britain. Having lived here all my life, I know no other way.

ib - what are the everyday irritations that you hated so much? I will not takeoffence, promise and I don't want any arguing! Its just something that intrests me.

Libra - you have the patience of a saint!

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