It was the same in Paris; I didn't know any English people there either, didn't speak English, didn't want anything to do with the expat scene. I was sniffy about it; still am. Arrogant bitch that I am. A bit hypocritical too - I buy English books and magazines wherever I find them, I am secretly delighted our local supermarket sells Cadburys Caramels and PG Tips, and whenever anyone comes to see me, I send them a gigantic wish list full of the esoteric delights of self-raising flour, bagels and M&S yoghurt. I used to force the CFO to transport Muffinskis muffins back from London wrapped and treated with all the reverence of holy relics. He won't do that any more, but he still coughs for Grazia and Heat pretty much weekly. Violet sends me care packages of Supercook Writing Icing and fondant fancies. Essentially, I am a sick expat junkie, but I am in denial. I can totally handle it; take my Yorkshire Teabags away! I will be FINE. Lipton Yellow will do. Marmite? No, not for me thank you.
This morning, however, something inside of me snapped.
"I want to go to the English Shop"
The CFO looked nonplussed.
"For teabags. And party stuff. And jelly and cereal. I just want to, ok?"
Knowing better than to argue, and hoping for cider and Burt's Crisps, the CFO acquiesced and we headed off into the depths of the affluent Flemish commuter belt to a thoroughly incongruous ageing brick building that looked more like a Cotswold vicarage than a supermarket. On the inside if felt more like a Spar than a proper supermarket (fitting, given its bizarre setting), but it was impressively well-stocked. Everyone in there was English. You could tell from their sensible Marks and Spencer slacks, even before you heard them saying "Shall I pick up a copy of the Telegraph, Margaret?" And stroking the HobNobs reverently. And I bought stuff. Lots of stuff. Stuff I don't even like. It was very hard to stop myself from buying much much more.
And looking at this haul, I realise I didn't buy either jelly or bagels. Dammit! I will just have to go back. SOON.
Now you will have to excuse me while I go and sniff teabags. Or something.