Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fame or Infamy?

This week has been a week of revelations. First I discovered I was Miss Wales 1997 (don't ask) and then I discovered that I actually starred on the pages of someone else's blog.

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you the Vendee Blogger, who's blog I hope you will enjoy.

Now originally I must admit that I was a bit offended at being identified as the flag carrier for the BATs (British and Twisted) but after a few days reflection I think I'm actually rather pleased and shall wear it forthwith as a Badge of Honour.

For surely, being a BAT is preferable to belonging to that other group that I shall call the BACs (British and Clueless) and to whom I shall introduce you later.
I should though, first point out that these categories refer to people that post on certain internet forums (which shall remain nameless) and bear no resemblance to anyone I actually know.

But first I shall examine my BAT credentials

Yes, I do live in France and yes I am moving back to the UK so that would indicate I prefer the UK to France. But really that only tells half the story.

Yes, I am probably a bit of a snob - I didn't live in Tunbridge Wells for nothing you know! To be honest, I think living in France is in danger of becoming a bit of a cliche but I do still enjoy it and have lots of lovely friends here.

And yes, my house is for sale. Perhaps the Vendee Blogger thinks it is overpriced and only appealing to other Brits but the number of French viewers says he's wrong. But more on that later.

Do I have time to spend on the internet researching things, no not really, but as I don't want to appear a complete twat by posting 'facts' that are fiction, I take the time rather than talking out of my derrière in true BAC fashion.

Do I care whether or not McDos takes over France? No, not really. I wasn't even aware of the article mentioned in the Vendee Blog. Oh dear, I see those BAT credentials slipping.

Is my mission to 'tear off the rose-coloured spectacles of any deluded souls who prefer living in France to the UK and are imprudent enough to say so? '

Yes, guilty as charged. I am, indeed, a realist who chucked away those rose-coloured spectacles on page 23 of A Year in Provence. If BATs have a genuine interest in the country they have made their home (beyond the price of the vin rouge - now cheaper in Tescos alas) and who have made an effort to speak French, read the newspapers and, god forbid, watch the TV, then yes, I'm a BAT and I'm proud.

So, what is a BAC?

The BAC is the antithesis of the BAT, one of the larger category of British 'expat' in France as deduced from their posts on France Forums.

They insist on being called 'expats' rather than immigrants because of course immigrants are generally one of the reasons they left the UK ("immigrants get all the housing", "immigrants taking our jobs", "bloody immigrants abusing our healthcare system", etc) and of course, in order to be an immigrant you have to be either Eastern European or Arab.

Naturally, being BACs they don't realise that they are moving to a country with a much higher immigrant population than the UK or that they will now become immigrants themselves. They also miss the point that they have not, by and large, contributed anything by way of taxes to the French Government but are happy to take plenty out of the healthcare service leading the French to exclaim 'bloody immigrants, abusing our healthcare system'. Sound familiar?

BACs generally moved to France to buy a bigger house for less money. That was their sole motive, so they could say to their friends back in the UK "oh I've got such a big house here, how is life in your two up, two down?" One or two might possibly have been to France before but most of them based their decision to move here on 'A Place in the Sun' or one of the surfeit of 'Living the Dream' books that clog up UK bookstores. Anyone actually looked into what happened to the authors of these books? Well, an alarming number of them, having extolled us all to move to France, left after a few years because they didn't like it.

A BAC refuses to believe that there is anything wrong in France, invariably take the Daily Mail as the next best thing to the word of God and the BBC is their touchstone for information on France (!) and almost to a man (or woman) don't read or write French.

This, in their opinion, makes them very well placed to have informed opinions on France and these opinions are the only ones that are right.

They are armchair experts on all facets of French life and love to post 'facts' on the internet. The problem is that said facts are usually gleaned from some bloke in the bar of their village or some similarly dissaffected British escapees who heard it on the BBC. I mistakenly used a certain well known internet forum to help fill in my first French tax return. I was given bucketloads of information..... and every single bit of it was wrong.

A recent BAC 'fact' on the internet.

"FACT. Car insurance is cheaper in France than the UK" (Fact. It ain't!)

The same BAC followed it up with this 'fact'.

"FACT. Property taxes in France are cheaper than the UK" (Fact. Property taxes vary hugely throughout France and in some areas are significantly higher than in similar areas of the UK)

They stalk the internet spouting their misinformation and arguing with anyone who doesn't agree with them.

In particular, they search out anyone who expresses even the most minor dissatisfaction with France then gang up on them trading insults until eventually the thread is removed and their mission is complete. Another attempt at presenting a more balanced view of life in France bites the dust. However, the paradox is that they hate the thought of any more British immigrants moving into their patch because think France is already overrun with them.

They have the capacity (in spades) to dismiss any rational, well documented argument as 'fabrication' mainly because, in order to back up a discussion on France some links to French websites are necessary and, of course, when they put it into Google Translator it came up with a load of incomprehensible rubbish, only mildly less incomprehensible than the original French it was written in and of which they still have little or no grasp. (Typical BAC comment overheard recently "I didn't understand it so I gave it to someone who does the French to sort out")

BACs will state, with absolute certainty that there is no knife crime in France. Taken from a BAC post on AngloInfo recently.

'And when do you hear of a French kid stabbing another one? Never!'

Oh dear, clearly this BAC didn't hear about this one, and this one , this one, oh, and this one only a few days ago.

They will state with absolute certainly that no French children play up in supermarkets. Of course the only time they go to the supermarket is when most French children are at school rather than on a Friday night or Saturday morning when the shops are heaving with fractious, whining French kids.

They will state with absolute certainty that there is no MRSA in France despite the fact that as recently as 2004, France had the highest MRSA rates in Europe. Current rates are largely similar to the UK (but don't tell them, they won't like it!). It's all well documented on the internet but, what's that you say? Oh, yes, they can't understand it because it's all in French.

They will state with absolute certainty that the French education system is better than anywhere else. The fact that most of them are retired, have no children in the French education system, nor in many cases even know any child who is, is totally irrelevant to them.

They will state with absolute certainty that there is no binge drinking in France despite the fact that the government recently set up a body to look into the problems caused by binge drinking in many University town.

They will state with absolute certainty that discipline is better in French schools. 80,000 violent incidents in schools in an average year says it's not, as does the recent spate of pupils stabbing teachers.
I've had all these discussions with them on internet forums.

How to recognise a BAC:

  • They are usually to be found wrapped around a carafe of red wine, not generally their first of the day, in any cafe across France, talking in loud voices about being 'integrated' which they consider themselves to be because they know the name of their neighbour.
  • Like minor aristocracy who are more royal than the Royals, they are more French than the French, gleefully leaving their cutlery on the table instead of on the plate and happily drinking their coffee out of their wine glasses. They are also known to favour outdoor urination because 'that's what the French do'. If they can buy themselves an old 2CV and live on 2 Francs and an old bottle top, they are in raptures. The worst offenders join the local chasse and pass the winter slaughtering fluffy little creatures. They are generally considered figures of fun by the French
  • They generally read the Daily Mail for all their information on life in France.
  • They are internet bullies
  • They wittily refer to the UK as the yUK
  • They will talk about their life in a pompous fashion, intimating that they could have a seat on the conseil municipale if only they had the time, such is their level of integration, to which we must all aspire. Scratch the surface a bit and you discover that they generally live in the growing number of 'Little Britains' that are dotting the French countryside.
  • They are pathologically incapable of saying anything positive about the UK.

BACs should not be confused with Bubble Brits who exist in their English enclaves, admitting to their inability to conquer the language, the fact that they don't have a clue what goes on here, do no-one any harm. They are a largely genial group.

So, given the choice, which group would you prefer to belong to. I know which one I'd choose.


the fly in the web said...

As one BAT to another congratulations at getting up the nose of the BAC tendency,and, more particularly, getting up the nose of those who make money from people visiting or moving to France.
If you have any critical faculties at all and have reasonable competence in French, then you are all too aware that France is not a paradise of sunshine, wine and cheap housing. Like any country, there are downsides, or in some cases in France, landslips!
I started to blog to try to explain to friends outside France why I was singing from a different hymnsheet from those who publish magazines about the joys of France....cop them all in one fell swoop rather than writing multiple letters, as it were....
You write as you find..I hope that the Vendee Blog readers will take a look at your blog and be grateful for a straight opinion.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully I'm in the BAT catagory too.

Well thought out posting and crackin response,


BIB said...

Golly. I think I will be a bubbly irlandais bon viveur (BIB) as it seems the closest to live and let live.

(Very) Lost in France said...

FITW - I'm relying on you to keep flying the BAT flag when I'm gone! VLiF

NWbD - thank you.

BIB - hooray, another acronym to add to the pile! VLiF