We are SO English

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

If you’re a fan of British television programs, you may have noticed that if a scene takes place inside of someone’s home, when they move from one room to another they might open and close doors between the different rooms inside their house. On our trips to the UK we have found that really was the case so it doesn’t seem so unusual anymore. Then we saw the curtains on the stairway….

Why would you hang curtains on your stairway and why do you see Bill peeking out from behind the set of drapes that we just put up in our house here in Carcassonne? It’s all about heat. In a cool and moist country like England, for example, the heating is on for a good part of the year. In a multi-story home all of that warm air rises to the upper floor(s) so you have to keep the furnace going downstairs just to stay comfortable on the ground floor while everything above swelters. The same principle works with closing doors behind you to keep the heat inside one room or the other. Our bedroom is upstairs where we sleep better when it’s cool, so these newly-installed curtains help to maintain the proper temperature balance for daytimes downstairs and nighttimes up.

That’s one reason why we as Americans in France are so English. Another is that anyone who speaks English here is usually assumed to be British since the UK is a 30-minute train ride away from the coast. Bill and I clearly have some kind of Anglo accent when we speak French so it’s a natural conclusion. As a parallel, if we’re standing in Paris and you’re speaking French to me, you could be Canadian, Belgian, North African, Swiss or any nationality of the approximately 30 countries where that’s an official language, but I’m going to think that you are French. You know, though, it really makes no difference to us at all. If the warm welcome that we’ve received since we’ve arrived continues, we’ll be happy to be from wherever someone thinks we are…even England. (Uh, oh, Bill. We’re going to get letters about that one!)