'The font' and Wilf came to collect me at Toulouse airport last night. The French air traffic controllers were 'going slow' so the flight was delayed by a couple of hours. Rather than hang around in the terminal they drove off to a large, modern fish restaurant five minutes away . Despite being full to the gunnals with Friday night diners the staff were a model of efficiency and courtesy. A well lit table in a quiet corner was laid, Wilf was escorted in and a bowl of water brought for him. In Britain Wilf would have had to stay in the back of the car and 'the font' would have had to dine alone at a table by the kitchen. 'A dog in a restaurant !' What different worlds. Driving home 'the font' told me the only noise Wilf made, as he peeked out from under the table cloth, was a mild, almost inaudible whimper of pleasure as a plate of calamari wafted past his nose.
On the plane the man in the seat by the window bobbed up and down like a cork on the ocean. Having stowed his bags he then had to stand up and rearrange them in the overhead baggage locker. No sooner had he sat down again than he immediately stood up to retrieve some papers. As soon as we were in the cruise and the seatbelt sign was off , up he got again. This time a computer was produced. Out of the corner of my eye saw him stroke the machine with what can best be descibed as unnatural enthusiasm. Youy know a flight is going to be bad when the person in the next seat starts a conversation about his new computer with the lines - "Take a look at this. Ask me any questions you want".
In English English the phrase 'How terribly interesting' can be translated as 'Please do not speak to me again. I would rather die than continue this conversation'. In American English the phrase 'How terribly interesting' comes across as 'How terribly interesting. Please feel free to bore me with technical inanities for as long as you care to'. One language - two cultures.