Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who the heck is Kenneth Williams?

Last week we went over to some friends and had yummy dinner (and raspberry-amaretti cake!) and we played some games. One of them was Cranium (I think?). I don't know if you know it, but basically it's a board game where there are 4 categories of activities. So, questions, performance, words and creative. Basically. For one of my performances I got the 'copycat' card - where you have to act as a famous person and your team mates have to guess who you are.

Of course, I got someone I've never heard of. Oh, I've heard of the Carry on films. I've even heard the catchphrase 'oh matron' (which a quick google suggests to me is not actually uttered in any of the films?). But I'd no way of connecting either of these to the esteemed Kenneth Williams.

What I'm actually trying to get at is slightly deeper than failing to impersonate Mr Williams. It's this fear as a foreigner of not being fully immersed in the culture of the country you're in. Sure, I've been here nearly 7 years and I'm not hopeless with the cultural references and jokes. But every so often something comes up and you have a choice. You either laugh along, because you really can't be arsed with option 2: asking what the reference is.

Option 2 usually results in one of two things, if you're lucky someone will quickly and quietly explain. If you're unlucky - which seems to happen more often than you'd like it to - you will get the whole group (or someone in the group) making a big deal out of you not knowing. 'Oh, you won't know who that is, will you Julia...' 'Oh, that won't make any sense to you... or did you have XYZ in Sweden??'. (funny how these things are always prefixed with 'oh.' I'm sensing a theme here...)

Now I don't mind it really. Not with friends at any rate. And the Kenneth Williams thing was just funny (and as soon as 'oh matron' was mentioned I made the connection). But it's the way some people have of making you feel stupid for not getting a reference. In fact, I find the same with age things - if I don't get a reference due to my age rather than not having lived here my whole life, I seem to get the same reaction.

Of course I'm not saying I want this exchange of cultures to stop. And obviously I'm exaggerating - it's not a big deal 96% of the time. But I do worry that people - including me?? - will be doing it to Mike when the poor lad moves to Sweden. If I do, you have my permission to slap me across the face with a fish. (yes, we did have that one in Sweden.)

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