Maybe it says something about the British temperament or maybe it just says something about me, but the ability to apologise will be of the utmost importance when we’re hoofing it around Europe.
For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been playing around with learning a bit of conversational German. And one word has struck out from the fold: Entschuldigung or Excuse me. And now it’s stuck in my brain. If all other words take flight (German and English alike) then, at least this one will be rattle around the coop, the chicken among doves. Part of the reason it’s glued in is because it’s really fun to say. I’m sure the downstairs neighbours are sick of hearing me and Pete hollering it across the flat to each other (another thing we ought to apologise for, but maybe not in German). But also because, knowing this, we can cover a multitude of sins. If we were to accidentally offend a custom, “sorry”, or we get arrested, “sorry”, or we need to explain that our school system didn’t think it necessary to learn languages at a young age, “sorry”. Such a word is in our arsenal now.
We’re trying to get other phrases in there too, and in other languages. We need our P’s & Q’s, we need a few numbers and we definitely need to know how to order a beer. If our trip is going to Hell in a hand basket (or backpack), then we should at least be able to lick our wounds over a pint of the local rot-gut. All of the above dialogue will facilitate that. That is providing we’re not speaking Bulgarian in Croatia or some such. It would be yet another excuse to try our hand at apologising though…
You can see that we’re not heading into this guns blazing. With the expectation that everyone speaks English, so long as you say it loud and slow. We have a genuine wish to throw ourselves into travel. We want to learn the different customs. Eat their food, drink their home-brew and avoid starting a minor international incident. But without this linguistic safety blanket I doubt we’d be able to do it.
So well, yeah. Sorry about that.