Friday, February 27, 2009


 Thomas and I Originally uploaded by PhylB
All week we've been trying, fairly unsuccessfully, to explain to Pudge that we are getting married. There are two problems. He doesn't know we aren't married and he doesn't know what married means anyway. From time to time Pudge has heard Thomas say Det er giftigt (that is poisonous) when he's gone to eat something he shouldn't. Today at breakfast Thomas told him again that we're getting married:Vi skal giftes. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I asked, given how worried he looked. It's a bad thing, he said, lip quivering, You might get dead from that you know! Poor wee man. Hopefully he'll enjoy the party tomorrow once he susses Thomas is not intending to kill me.


Hahaha - I had to laugh this morning when I read penny-pinching Ryanair's latest idea. I'd love them to go ahead with it. I can see me on their flight, deliberately not having any pound coins on me, so as not to encourage them, standing with a small child peeing on the plane floor because I don't have change for their loo. Most of all I am desperate to see it backfire. I want to see their faces when people finally stop buying their ridiculously over-priced in-flight drinks, for fear of needing to pee before touchdown. That'd just make my day!


 Tooth brushing Originally uploaded by PhylB
Have you tried the Aquafresh with lemon in? It is really nice. I always wondered why all toothpaste was mint. There isn't really any need for it to be, is there?


Ok, I'm a bit stressed today but these buggers have annoyed me.
I have this ridiculous green sack I am meant to fit 4 weeks of plastic in - I'd need to melt it down to fit it in there for God's sake - there are 6 of us! It doesn't even fit our milk bottles for a week. Of course I can't fit it in the black bin either. It is too small for 6. So I come up with this great idea. I fill an extra box and I put it out beside my plastic this morning. It visibly contains only plastic. It should help East Ren meet their recycling quotas and I have nowhere else to put it anyway. The idiots turn up, empty my 2 blue bins, my 2 paper sacks, my normal bin and my green bag and leave the box of plastic untouched. I am left wondering if they are too lazy to empty it or simply too stupid to work out what to do with a pile of plastic which isn't bagged in the correct colour.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Well just to add to our current woes, the BBC says Saturday is going to be torrential. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised in February, but to be honest, given how nice the weather was on Monday and Tuesday, I had dared to hope for better :-( I guess I should hang about the registry office for ten minutes and take a few photos since any photoshoot at Derek and Amanda's is likely to have drowned rats as its subject, and any photoshoot in the park is likely to be out of the question. Whatever the weather has in store, whatever the job prospects, at least I am assured a fascinating future full of love, tenderness, endless talking, respect, support and mutual nerdiness... I guess that counts most. Looking forward to seeing all those who've emailed (and hopefully more) on Saturday. If we've not finished making the cake by then, we'll nip into Sainsburys garage on Woodlands road and get a packet or two of digestives. I bet none of you has ever been to such an upmarket wedding, huh? ;-) Thomas just told me he plans to sculpt us two out of marzipan for the top of the cake. Now that's got to be worth coming to see, surely?!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I remember Charlotte's first ever real tantrum vividly. I was camping in the South of France the week of 9/11. I took her back to my cabin and asked if she wanted on her lime green babygro or a lilac one. She was 20 months old. She chose one, then the other, then the first again then started to cry as the decision became too tortuous in her sleepy state. She turned redder and redder, the crimson of her scalp shining through her white hair. She became hysterical, banging her head off the walls and biting the curtains. I actually laughed, it was such a ridiculous overreaction. Marcel had never had a tantrum so I was witnessing one for the first time. Of course, as the months and years passed and she continued to have the tantrums, I no longer found them amusing. I would arrive at work completely emotionally drained and moan at poor Thomas, my then office mate, about how dealing, usually single-handedly, with her strong will was killing me. I guess moaning to a man who would listen and sympathise slowly led me to fall in love with him. (What he saw in me, I have no idea!)
Pudge was a second Marcel. I don't think he's ever had a real tantrum. When you annoy him, he looks hurt and breaks your heart, rather than becoming angry.
Anna has been a very easy girl up to now but she is strong-willed. We saw that with her milk wars during January.
Today is pancake day. Thomas and the kids were making pancakes. Thomas let Anna sit on the work surface and stir the batter while Lots and Pudge made the pancakes. He turned his back and she took a ladle full of the batter and started dripping it down the front of the kitchen cupboards. He took the ladle from her and said No, Anna. She went berserk! She threw herself backwards, headbutting the floor. A full three minutes later Thomas, a six foot tall bloke, was still not strong enough to bend her enough to get her to sit in her seat to eat the pancakes because she was still doing that rigid toddler thing in disgust at her daddy. Anna is 6 months younger than Lots was in Argelès!
Oh my God... what do the next 3 years hold?!

Monday, February 23, 2009


I was reading this on the BBC yesterday. I found it interesting that the correspondent found the noise off-putting at times. When I finally landed in my beloved Manhattan after years of longing to go, the two things I found surprising, because they had not been obvious from seeing Manhattan on TV, were the noise and the smell. He's right, you can hardly hear yourself think for the noises of talking and traffic and everything else - it is wonderful! It is so alive, it is jumping. You couldn't have paid me enough to use earplugs! The noise made me want to skip with joy! And the smell was mouth-watering. At ever corner I encountered another new and delicious smell as someone cooked something you could buy for next to nothing. I just loved everything about it! I felt I'd come home. If I had all the money and job security in the world, I'd be flying there on Saturday to get married.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I forgot to mention wedding presents in my previous hurried wedding blog.
Given the short notice of the wedding, we aren't expecting any presents. We'd rather keep that issue together the Golf club reception later in the year/decade.
That makes it simpler for everyone! All we're looking for on the big day is your smiling faces - you know I'll be there with my camera, as always. It wouldn't be my wedding if I didn't take my own photos, would it?!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


pc 1gs
Originally uploaded by 44b
Well you'll all have heard by now why the international wedding with reception party at the golf club had to be cancelled.
As Thomas says on his own blog, that left us 2 options - wait till we get back on our feet, which could be years, or do something wild and silly, so we have decided to choose the latter. Having discussed the options last Thursday after the work bombshell, we came to the conclusion we ought to have the wedding now and the reception one day in the hopefully not too distant future (or at the very least, before we die!)
So the plan is to get married a week on Saturday (28-02-09) at 2pm at the registry office in Park Circus. The rest depends a bit on our family, friends, and blog-readers. After the ceremony at 2-30 we will have champagne, or probably cava given our current budget, and a homemade (by Charlotte and Thomas) wedding cake - I am informed it is to be a kransekage (whatever that is) at my brother and sister-in-law's house just opposite the registry office.
Given we haven't time to send out invites, this is it - anyone we know with a spare hour or two on Saturday is formally invited for a slice of cake and a glass of something. The 10 spare seats in the registry office are on a first come first served basis, thereafter you're waiting outside for the cake and bubbly! We'd love to see you there to turn a depressing fortnight into a happier celebration.
More interesting than witnessing our wedding or even sampling the cake, rumour has it my biggest daughter has promised Pumpa she will remove her black jeans in favour of a dress for the first time in 4 years. Come on - those who know her know that is worth a photo in itself!
Looking forward to seeing you all!
(If you think you can make it, send us a wee email ( so we know how much bubbly to get in. I promise we won't hold you to it!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Just 9 short weeks after resigning from my job because we needed someone to stay home to look after the children given the £1900 bill for nursery and afterschool, we were told last week that Thomas's job, amongst many others, is 'potentially redundant'. So I have spent the last week in a daze of panic, fear, tears, anger and incredulity as we try to work out how to feed 6 people and pay for the house, which we can't sell during the housing market collapse, on no income at the height of the worst recession in the last 100 years.
To lose one job, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
Oh and the big summer wedding is now officially cancelled, of course.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Thomas bought a kitchen blind on the Internet last week.
Of course I went out for ten minutes on Thursday to do the school run at 3pm and came back to a card saying City Link had been. Given the card had a little box on the back ticked saying Mon-Fri we will deliver again tomorrow, I didn't think another thing about it.
Friday of course, they came during the school run too. Again the same wee card was left with the same box ticked.
Yesterday, no card, no delivery. That's odd, I'd better ring them.
I ring the number on the card (which tells me my local depot is Cambuslang). I get a ten minute automated service supposedly arranging my delivery and when I get to the last step it simply gives me a direct line number for Cambuslang! Wonderful.
I ring Cambuslang and get someone who sounds very Indian but is claiming to be Jane. Am I on to Cambuslang or Calcutta?? Whatever... Jane asks what my problem is. I tell her nicely that I have a card dated Friday saying it'd be delivered again Monday and no sign of them. Oh but that was the second time they tried to deliver it. Yes, I know but what relevance has that given the wee card says Mon-Fri we will deliver again tomorrow? Well we only deliver twice then we return things to the sender. Twice is more than reasonable... Well point one - twice during the week at 3pm suits very few people, point two - the card doesn't say come and get it or we'll send it back, it says Mon-Fri we will deliver again tomorrow. Oh the driver must have ticked the wrong box, then. Yes, maybe but given that is not my fault will you bring it Thursday please as I am busy tomorrow with guests who are flying in from abroad, I asked. Sorry, it's being returned to the supplier tomorrow because you didn't pick it up on time. I was getting annoyed by then. I would have considered the trip to Cambuslang on Saturday if the card had said pick this up now or we'll send it back. Today however I have a whole house to tidy for guests, 3 school runs, an ASDA trip and 2 kids to deal with so no I am not coming to Cambuslang. I suggested given it was their error, they put a wee sticker on it saying deliver Thursday, do not send back. Oh I can't do that, she said, it's the computer that sends it back. Why do people put up with this shite? An hour later I had given up on Jane and tracked down the web company and had managed to convince them to ring Jane and tell her computer not to send it back but to bring me it Thursday instead. I guess I'd better invite my parents for coffee at 3pm. If there is any chance it shows up, you can be sure it'll be at 3pm!

Monday, February 09, 2009


I got into a discussion with mum, dad and Thomas about blogging yesterday. Dad, Thomas and I of course are bloggers, mum is not. Mum asked why we bother. Dad's reply was that it was a bit like a diary, mum of course replied to that that you wouldn't publish your diary on the Internet so she didn't get it. At that point they left, so the discussion went no further.
Dad's comment that it was a diary however got me to thinking. For the most part, for me, it is the antithesis of a diary. There are whole areas people mull over in their private diaries (I suspect, given I have never been interested in keeping one!) that in my head are strictly off blogging limits:
  • One's employer. Someone might write in a personal diary about things troubling them at work, colleagues who've upset them, colleagues they fancied, or had affairs with.
  • Intimate family matters. They might write their worries about loved ones, or frustrations about them, the things they did that made them sad, happy or whatever.
  • Ex-husbands and marital break-ups are not blog material. I may skim the surface of that. I might moan about the financial aspects of divorce but I have thousands of emails from my ex that will never be discussed in public. When my marriage was in trouble, you'd have found it in a private diary, had I had one, but not on my blog...
  • Sex. I guess people might write about their sex lives in private diaries. You don't see me going through the x, y and z of my sex life on here either.
  • etc
So why do people blog?

  • It's nice to have a good rant once in a while to de-stress, especially if you spend 12 hours alone or with children most days.
  • Thinking through your views on a given subject is easier if you set them out and re-read them. Again if you are stuck home alone all day, it helps to keep your mind working and rather than ignoring my other half by blogging, we end up reading each other's posts and using that as the lively starting point for a political, linguistic etc discussion that go on into the wee small hours. Ok so we're nerds, big deal!
  • It's fun to point out something happening economically or politically a couple of days before real journalists, and smugly feel - I told you so...
  • It helps language-wise. I read others' blogs on a daily basis as I read newspapers. I read them in Danish (and other languages). This keeps my brain working, it helps my Danish, etc. So you learn a language without taking a class.
  • I write anecdotes about my kids. Looking back on them makes me laugh. If they amuse others too, all the better, if they don't, no one is forcing them to read them.
  • I can check important (to me) facts - say how long Léon's chicken pox lasted, when my kids learned to walk or whatever just by searching my blog - it's a handy resource, kept all in the one place.
  • I stay in touch with old friends and foreign family. I have a house with 8 main rooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen, hall etc to keep functional, I have 6 people to wash, iron and cook for, 3 sets of school runs, shopping, a freelance career, 2 sets of homework a night and 2 toddlers to teach French, reading etc to. Funnily enough that doesn't leave me time to ring all my old friends and let them know what I am up to on a weekly (monthly) basis. By noting down little snippets of my thoughts and deeds, they can choose to stay in touch with my life and when we do chat, we feel we've been in touch more often.
  • Some people are frustrated writers, journalists, photographers - we can't all be lucky enough to get the job we want, so we can pretend to ourselves we matter this way.
  • If you drop dead, run over by a truck, a blog might let your kids know who you were, what you thought etc
  • You get to know new people. I read and talk to other photographers I admire, other bloggers who mention topics that interest me. When you are overwhelmed by too many tasks in too few hours, having someone you can talk to through your blog for a few minutes can keep you sane.
  • By ranting about things that are wrong with society, you reach more people than by writing to an MP who can sends you a standard 'don't bother me' letter.
  • You can draw your friends' attention to things that may interest them.
  • You can ask friends' advice - eg my search for a memorable, low-budget wedding.
  • And why not blog? Is it any worse to blog 30 minutes a day than do a crossword, knit a jumper, watch Eastenders, walk the dog or any of the other things that give you pleasure?
And after all, if I average 8000 hits a year, someone must be interested...

Sunday, February 08, 2009


The contractual obligation to pay top bankers their cash bonuses despite their failures is all over the front pages of the Sunday papers today. Most people are angry because tax payers are now the major share holders so why should we pay out.
I, however, am struck by that phrase 'contractual obligation to pay bonuses'. Why? Because if they are contracted to receive the money then surely it isn't a bonus, it is a contractual part of their salary. Now if you are an average man in the street you don't see the problem or reasoning there. If, however, you are a divorced parent of small children the penny drops. The CSA, the UK body that deals with child maintenance payments, bases the sum paid to the residential parent on a percentage of the non-residential parent's gross salary excluding bonuses and shares. What you find in companies and sectors where there are a lot of divorced, well-paid, middle-aged men is that basic salaries have gone down and are now supplemented by bonuses equating to between 25% and 100% of their salary. Why is that allowed? In my own case, having been the family accountant before my divorce, I know around half of my ex-husband's salary is being exempted from child support because it is paid as bonuses and shares. I presume the banking sector too means long, stressful hours and therefore has led to many divorces. Often what has happened is that the salary is minimal and the bonus outstrips it by far. The bonus of course was probably once part of the salary but if you are a divorced 45 year old dad a salary of £80K is much less interesting to you than a salary of £40K supplemented by a contractual bonus of £35K, but those who have opted for the latter will be up in arms if suddenly bonuses are removed given competitive salaries for similar jobs are probably around £80K.
All I am saying is that if bonuses are part of your contractual salary and not a one-off gift, then it should be taken into consideration when child maintenance awards are calculated. This situation should never have been allowed to develop with the purpose of avoiding paying for the upkeep of your children. Otherwise you end up with one parent struggling to provide the basics for the kids while the other becomes super-dad visiting restaurants and cinemas every time they have them for the weekend. The kids are meant to be the ones that count here, not the parents.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Spiekermann House Numbers
Originally uploaded by Stewf
I am not the worst language learner in the world, even if I say so myself. I started French as a small child - primary 4, I think, then German in 2nd year at high school. At uni I first did Italian and then Swedish. Through work I have been forced over the years to confront Spanish and Portuguese. Though I may only be able to speak French, German and Italian, I can certainly read and understand Swedish, Spanish and a wee bit of Portuguese.
That brings me of course to Danish...
When I shared an office with Thomas as mates 6 years ago, I used to listen to him on the phone sometimes to see what I could pick up. He'd mail me the odd link to newspaper articles and with a lot of concentration I could get the gist of them mainly through my very rusty knowledge of Swedish. Over the years I got better and better at reading it but because it isn't pronounced anything like it is written (it is even worse than English and that is saying something), I found it hard to draw the parallel between a written word and its spoken form. For instance the word meget sounds more or less to me (and my French speaking kids) like the French word mal. So why the hell do those weird Danes spell it meget???
Finally, now into my third year of living with a Dane I understand! I know what the written words mean in the newspaper, and when Thomas and his parents sit round my table talking I can follow that too. Result!!!
There are only two problems.
The first is pronunciation. Danish is full of weird sounds and Danes are used to speaking English and less used to English-speaking people attempting Danish. On the odd occasion I attempt a Danish word with Thomas or mention any of his friends by name - he completely demoralizes me by looking totally blank as if I have attempted martian. I mentioned the other day I had been speaking to Lykke on facebook. He had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. Ok, I didn't pronounce it wonderfully but as someone who has tried other languages, French and Germans understand you but laugh no matter how badly you pronounce their language. Danes just look blank. I guess they just aren't used to us foreigners even saying hello :-(
The second major obstacle, and the only point I totally lose the conversation when listening to Danes round the table is numbers. Danes have some weird names for numbers - they are nothing like Swedish or German or English. I have no comprehension whatsoever of Danish numbers. I know the sounds - so I know when they are discussing prices or ages, I just have no clue whatsoever which number they are talking about.
I think I'll start a campaign for a Danish spelling and number reform. And maybe I'll also try to get Thomas to understand foreigners might try a wee bit harder to pronounce it, if he tried a wee bit harder to understand bad pronunciation of Danish!

Friday, February 06, 2009


Bride and Groom winebottles
Originally uploaded by robleto
I'm still a bit stressed about this whole wedding thing. Only having family risks turning into a damp squib of a day... not that I have a problem with our families - of course not, but as I said before it'd feel like Boxing Day and make (what will hopefully be Thomas's only wedding day) a bit underwhelming. Then we thought of choosing 7 or 8 friends each to add to that but firstly even that is expensive - 20 family plus 15 friends plus possibly 15 partners, various offspring etc. This appeals more but isn't particularly wise in this economic climate. You don't want to book a wedding and then find you can't pay for it when it comes round because everyone has lost their job or whatever. Also by the time you get to my age choosing just 7 or 8 out of 50 friends is depressing and divisive.
Then it came to me in my dream last night. How about the ultimate nerd wedding? You don't send invites. You leave an open invitation on your blog and those who read it come along. Not only do you find out that way who reads you, you have a fun surprise day... (and you probably get to meet some new complete weirdos you've never seen before!) And as for the meal - you just have a big picnic somewhere.

Although it could turn out that no one reads it and we'd be standing there alone - hahahaha.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Monday was great. It snowed soft fluffy snow. The kids had fun in the snow during their school breaks.
Now, here's where I start the ranting... It has been dry and cold all week, not snowing heavily during school hours, not raining. There is still snow on the ground of course, and a bit of ice: Monday's snow froze, Tuesday we got some more, then last night again so we have several layers of ice and snow out there. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday I pick my kids up from school expecting them to be like doggies with two tails and they come out looking subdued. The school of course in this everyone-sues-everyone age has kept the poor buggers indoors the whole day, in their classrooms rather than letting them run around the icy playground throwing snowballs. They are frightened someone gets hurt on the ice now it has frozen over, Charlotte says sadly.
When are we going to get the balance right? Childhood is about running about on the snow and the ice. If one kid in the school slips and breaks an arm every 24 months, so be it. If it is my kid, I am not going to sue anyone. I want my kids to have the freedoms I had as a kid, running about like mad things, whooping with joy, not sitting baking in a warm class for fear of the council being sued. When I was a kid there wasn't a month went by without some child wandering about school with its arm in plaster. Invariably, the accident had happened in school. We even envied them getting out of gym or written homework. No one sued anyone. Nowadays it's just pathetic!


It was my birthday once again yesterday. I wonder why, when you are a kid and you love birthdays, there seem to be years, decades almost, between them and yet when you are an adult and would rather do without one, they turn up at, what feels like, monthly intervals. Isn't life funny?
Thomas ordered me a present which we went out in a snow storm on Tuesday night to pick up, only to find the pick-up service at Tesco closed. It was freezing and we'd gone after I finished work at 11pm, so that wasn't the best start.
Wednesday morning started with me having to work 7am onwards (ie before the kids woke up). Fun! (But as a first present Anna slept all night - what more could I really want?) The big ones rushed off the school squabbling as usual without so much as acknowledging it was my birthday. What's new there?
Things improved when the postman turned up with two cards for me at 10am. Thanks Shona and Sheina.
Mum and Dad invited me to the Golf club for lunch which was nice. The course looked very crispy!
Then I spent my usual hour picking up the 3 big ones.
We got home just before 4 and Charlotte wished me a Happy Birthday. Charlotte proudly handed me an envelope which she'd coloured in. I opened it to find a home-made card which had been too big for the envelope so she'd folded to fit in. It was a bit of a mess - but very sweet! I tried to open it but she'd sellotaped it shut! I opened the tape and 5 tiny chocolates fell out. My teacher gave me these for Christmas so I kept some for your birthday she said proudly. (I guess that's a sign of will power in a small child!) I then opened the card to find she had taped two 10p and one 5p coin inside. I saved this for you to buy yourself something, she said! How sweet! She then tidied the living room as an 'extra gift'. She is an endearing child. I went to the kitchen to make coffee. Pudge turned up with a freshly homemade card. He had taped one 1p coin in it!!! This is from my money pig, he stated very seriously! 26p - I guess I need to go shopping today ;-)
Suddenly at 4-10 I remembered I was meant to be at the doctor for Léon's MMR booster! Oops - senile already? I flew out the house and arrived just 5 minutes late. The health visitor checked his records and couldn't find any note of him having had the original MMR at 13 months old. I am sure he did but have no proof. She checked the computer - it said he'd had it on 13 December 08... emmmm that was a Saturday and 18 months too late - I don't think so! After half an hour of checking various records we abandoned the booster until the doc could track down where we are at on the immunisation plan. The rush out in the snow seemed to be in vain, until she offered Anna a Men-C booster instead! Poor Anna.
Home again, I made a nice curry. I was just finishing it at 6-15 when Marcel wandered in Oh you made dinner - I was just coming down to make you dinner for your birthday he said. I guess it is the thought that counts.
After dinner, back to Tesco in another snowstorm to pick up what turned out to be a shiny new black laptop. That will be wonderful because my old one is so slow running Vista it takes me 20 minutes to log in in the mornings to work!
Then we all shared a ridiculously fattening chocolate cake and went to bed.
The day definitely improved as it went on.
Now I guess I'll blink and my next birthday'll sneak up on me at an even more alarming rate.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


How about this for an action shot? Boy did he have fun...

Monday, February 02, 2009


 Real kids and snow kids Originally uploaded by PhylB
Today I helped Léon build 3 snowmen in the garden. When we finished he looked rather serious then asked: Will he fly away with me now and try to steal my beer?!

Sunday, February 01, 2009


lego europe
Originally uploaded by cemre
I've been listening to all this protectionist nonsense since last week and it's starting to piss me off. We are EU citizens and as such we all have equal rights to work wherever we want within the EU. It's hardly Europe's fault if we are to stupid or too stubborn.
Tonight I'm fainting in shock at the realization that I am
in agreement with that Mandelson slimeball for the first time in my life. (Isn't it nice to live is a country where you have freedom of speech ;-) ). First of all, I think retaining the jobs for British workers is bad for business. If Brits know their employer can't go out and hire people more capable of a job because they are forced to use locals whatever their qualifications, where is the incentive for the Brit to learn how to do the job well and to work hard? Secondly, given the poor state of the education system in many areas, you'd be hard pushed to find someone qualified to do a specific job at times. Of course as soon as we ban the Italian workers, they ban ours and so on till the economy is unworkable...
(As an aside I have to laugh at the whole story that started these strikes in the first place - Total (a French company) is employing Italians in Linconshire. Maybe they would be happy if Total withdrew from England altogether and moved the oil plant to say Lorraine instead - they have been hard up for industry there too since the mines closed down? In fact maybe Nissan, Toyota and the likes should also move their plants back home so they can employ their own locals??? Just a thought...)

Anyway the reason the whole thing is infuriating me so much is because it is a question of language of course. Five years ago many Poles came to Britain because our currency was worth more than theirs. Young educated Poles came here and took on menial jobs until they mastered the language well enough to work in the area they were qualified to. They worked hard, sent some money home, saved for a better life and either stayed or went home again. I presume some families were separated for a few years while one member worked here to send money home too. This is a horrible thing to have to do but they did it for a better life. What makes us believe we are better than them? Our young people sit here whinging they can't get a job but they can't speak any foreign languages. Are we too good to go and clean the Dutch equivalent of Waterstones or stack the Portuguese Tesco's shelves until we master their language enough to get the job we are qualified for? Our currency is now the underdog. Our young people should be jumping at the chance to rush out and earn some Euros. The big problem of course is that learning a
new unknown language is 100 times easier than learning a first foreign language. The other Europeans pick up English better and quicker because they are experienced language learners. We are abysmal at language teaching and should be making an effort to prepare our young people for the work place of the future instead of assuming arrogantly that we have no need to learn languages or ever work abroad.