National Insanities

What’s it like living abroad? Every country has its own brand of insanity, but it takes a long time before it seeps into you. I moved here late in my life, so I’ll never understand British craziness the way I understand the American version, but there’s something great about being an outsider. It means you can see a country’s oddities in a way you can’t when you share them.

Sinking-of-ship-cazador-1856 (1)

In 2007, a ship wrecked off the south coast of Devon and its cargo washed up on the beach. ( It looked nothing like the picture I’ve posted, but there’s a connection, because following ancient local traditions, which date back to the days of sailing ships, everyone for miles around helped themselves. This is called looting if you’re not participating and not letting things go to waste if you are. So far, so logical. But part of the cargo was a container of motorcycles, and instead of pushing, shoving, and grabbing for them, the looters (or non-wasters if you prefer) formed an orderly line and waited their turn. Nobody but Wild Thing and I thought that was funny until we pointed it out, and even then I’m not convinced they weren’t just humoring us when they laughed. Because nothing is more important to the British than forming an orderly line. Except, maybe, calling it a queue.

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