Well, this is serious stuff – diplomatic incident stuff – HMS Amethyst trapped on the Yangtze under fire from big Chinese guns stuff – start of the 3rd Opium War stuff, according to David Cameron. (I made the last one up because it’s no better than he deserves.)
So I read an article on the nature of Chinese rudeness, just for fun. It said that the Chinese are rude in two particulars:
1. They don’t stand obediently in queues like we Brits do, but try to barge in at the front – and there’s nothing more likely to raise a true Brit’s dander than a barger-in at the front. Barging in at the front is the very definition of rudeness in the Scepter’d Isle. Unfortunately, no explanation was given for this unconscionable behaviour other than ‘the Chinese have no manners’, which almost certainly isn’t true.
2. Chinese people talk loudly in public. This one was at least excused on the grounds that most Chinese people work in industry where there is a lot of noise from machinery, so they JUST GET USED TO SHOUTING.
Interestingly, the article went on to say that certain British habits are also deemed rude by the Chinese. These include our tendency to be economical in our responses, and the example given was our habit of answering a question with ‘No.’ The Chinese don’t like that, apparently. They consider it impolite (which, for any Chinese readers, is another word for ‘rude.’) So here’s a tip for anybody thinking of marrying a Chinese person (as I expect to do in my next life, just as long as the priestess is up to the mark with her timing.)
If you come home from the office and the little lady asks ‘Did you have a good day at the office, dear?’ you mustn’t say ‘No.’ If you do, she’s likely to be very upset and file for divorce – and the papers will all be in Cantonese so you won’t have a clue what she’s taking with her. You must say ‘Well actually, my dearest flower of the Orient, I did find today a little trying. (And thank you for asking; it’s very much appreciated.) You see, a spider crawled into the ink well, crawled out again, and then walked all over a letter I’d just written to an esteemed client in Barnsley. Don’t you think such a misadventure would be most upsetting, oh jewel of Guangdong Province? Your opinion would be highly esteemed. As indeed are you, precious Queen of Imperial Dragons. Since you did me the honour of accompanying me on this troubled path called life, never has my furrowed brow been so quieted nor my stiff upper lip made more wobbly.’
Heed this advice and you’ll never have to go to the most expensive florist in town and buy a bunch of flowers so big it’ll need a delivery van all to itself. And the ghost of HMS Amethyst will finally rest content.