In doing all this bloody study for my Contiki assignment (but in all seriousness, though it’s insanely overwhelming I do love my fun facts) I’ve been doing a lot of looking into different European cultures.Think Austrian, Belgium, Croation, Turkish, Greek, and etc.
Isn’t it amazing how different geographical locations and thus sometimes different socialisation patterns work to result in ranging cultural nuances between different nationalities? How even though Belgium and the Netherlands are bang smack next door to each other, those residing in Wallonia, Flanders or Brussels (sorry, but I feel I deserve to show off a bit of my recently acquired knowledge) are more prone to subtle cues and saving face while their Holland homing counterparts are rather abrupt and direct? Or how Austrian women will never leave the home unless perfectly poised, even dressing to the nines for a jaunt to the local mall, yet the Netherlands has “a raincoat will stop you getting wet, a bag to carry all your crap, a sweater to keep you warm” as their advice on dressing like a Dutchy?
It got me thinking about New Zealanders (and ok, Aussies to a degree) abroad. It has to be said, we are known for being a good-time group, into knocking back our liquor and dancing on tables while in partial stages of undress (or is that just me?). I mean, obviously a bit of a generalisation but for the most part that sort of vision makes up a good portion of the mid 20s Kiwi lad or lady.
I was listening to The Edge the other morning when they replayed a snippet of JayJay Mike and Dom’s – no I mean Clint! Clint I tell you! – interview with old Ed Sheeran (actually I shouldn’t say “old” in relation to the golden guitarist; did you know he’s only 24? 24?! Like come on mate, I’m already a bit hum drum down about my achievements to date at my current age without finding out you’re also a 1991-ian along with a world superstar with t shirts sold all over the globe with your face on). (Sense some bitterness here? You’re correct. I thought by my almost-quarter-century age they’d be teenagers teeming around with my face emblazoned on their chests) when Dom – no doubt caught up in the excited banter and letting his vocab get away on him – said to Ed, “Jeez you’re a good c%#t”.
Well. Luckily Ed was well aware that in Kiwiland, Dom was in fact giving him an ultimate compliment (though JayJay did berate him a fair bit. “Omg Dom! You just called Ed Sheeran the C-word!”). “No no, I take it with open arms,” Ed said. “I’m stoked you think I’m a good c#%t.” Good old (no young, young, with plenty of time to take over the world!) Ed, recognising that the younger generations often use the horrendously offensive word in such light. But what if he hadn’t of been aware? The C-word in the UK is not at all acceptable to be ripped out in banter, however jovial.
When in India (I do apologise forconstantly referring back to my trip like some kind of loftily snobby globe trotter) my Czech Republic pal Eva and I were letting loose our frustrations with the ashram owner, old Amrit. “He’s not a nice person,” she said. “He’s a bastard!” I declared. “He’s an arsehole,” she stated, somewhat timidly (Prague and the like are more like the Belgium in holding their tongue). Alas, all fired up, I let rip with a, “He’s a C$@T!!!”
Poor Eva. She was mortified. She stared at me in horror and said, “I’ve never ever said thatword aloud myself in my whole life.” Then she burst into absolute pearls of laughter.
“But you’re right,” she said. “He is…. One of those.”
All I can think is phew that she didn’t take offence. Though the word doesn’t make up a commonly used term in my reportiore, it’s sometimes uttered on the odd occasion and is rather regularly lent to my ears whilst amongst some pals and companions. “What a good c#€t” is indeed a form of flattery amongst many an early 20s male, and it’s come to be that a vast amount of those of my generation no longer nocturnal creature an eyelid (apologies; my take on a very overused cliche) when a see-you-next-Tuesday is offered out.
And cultural differences abound within our own cultures too. I mean, I can’t see the old dear who walks her little pup at the dog park having such a filthy phrase as a go-to (though when my Nanna was in the throes of dementia, she did chuck one a c-word under her breath one time). (Not at me, I must clarify; a woman at the supermarket was in the way of Nanna and her packet of Fruit Bursts. Entirely appropriate, one might say). And although sometimes the brother James or I may drop one in humorous taste in Deb’s presence on the odd ocassion, her initial giggles are soon suppressed by a, “Don’t say that word! It’s disgusting!”
I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe what is appropriate, acceptable or normal for you is absolutely not so for another, and vice versa. I’m not saying we should all go so PC that we watch all or words, hand gestures and so forth at all moments in a bid to not offend, but maybe a little more awareness wouldn’t go astay.
I don’t think I’ll be ripping out the C-word when cavorting Contiki travellers about the European continent.
(Though if a Kiwi or Aussie passenger tells me I’m a good c#%t I shall take it as the ultimate form of flattery. It’s my culture, all right?).