I had to share this fun piece on English hospitality with everyone, although it will probably resonate more with my English audience than others. If you can reverse the environments of the story, it will also resonate with my French audience. Thank you to one of my readers who was kind enough to forward this story to me this week.
By way of introduction, I should explain the historical relationship between England and France. We English are brought up with sayings such as “Thank god for the English Channel”, and a Times newspaper headline in the late 1800s, which said “Channel fogbound, Europe cut off”. If you dig a little deeper into history, you will find statements like “We actually took the country over for four hundred years and tried to civilize it. We finally gave up the struggle and gave it back to them”. Another English truism, at least to us, is that the French only think they are superior, whereas we know we are.
Enough of the background, but before reiterating the story I was sent, I should explain that the French have just as many similar stories about the English. It has become very much a game……but a deadly serious one that has pitted each culture against the other for centuries, in a war that shows no sign of abating. On to the story.
An American tourist in London decides to skip his tour group and explore the city on his own. He wanders around, seeing the sights, and occasionally stopping at a quaint pub to soak up the local culture, chat with the lads, and have a pint of Guinness.
After a while, he finds himself in a very high class neighbourhood…..big, stately residences…no pubs, no stores, no restaurants, and worst of all…NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS.
He really, really has to go, after all those glasses of Guinness.
He finds a narrow side street, with high walls surrounding the adjacent buildings and decides to use the wall to solve his problem.
As he is unzipping, he is tapped on the shoulder by a London Bobby, who says, “I say, sir, you simply cannot do that here, you know.”
“I’m very sorry, officer,” replies the American, “but I really, really HAVE TO GO, and I just can’t find a public restroom.”
“Ah, yes,” said the bobby…”Just follow me”.
He leads him to a back “delivery alley”, then along a wall to a gate, which he opens. “In there,” points the bobby. “Whiz away sir, anywhere you want.”
The fellow enters and finds himself in the most beautiful garden he has ever seen. Manicured grass lawns, statuary, fountains, sculpted hedges, and huge beds of gorgeous flowers, all in perfect bloom.
Since he has the cop’s blessing, he unburdens himself and is greatly relieved.
As he goes back through the gate, he says to the bobby, “That was really decent of you… is that what you call ‘English Hospitality’?”
WAIT FOR IT!
“No, sir” replies the bobby, “that’s what we call the French Embassy.” I defy you not to laugh!