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Donna Gee - Spain's Grumpy Old Gran


What the Spanish REALLY think of the British invasion...
06 November 2015 @ 13:31

Jose Monllor Perez is small, dark, law-abiding and enjoys nothing more than relaxing with his pals, a cerveza and a cigarette. A stereotypical Spaniard, you might say.


We all have our own views on what constitutes an archetypal native of this particular Iberian nation. But how do the Spanish see the thousands, nay millions, of British holidaymakers who swarm around their country seeking the sunshine that invariably shuns our own grid-locked island?


For the past 16 years Perez (pictured above) has been teaching Spanish to students of all nationalities (me included) at the Berlingua School of Languages in Quesada on the Costa Blanca – the majority of them English.

Teaching runs in Jose's family and after seeing 5,000 pupils pass through Berlingua’s doors, he’s a pretty good judge of character. The Alicante-born profesora is also a dab hand at another trait that runs in the family - art. And he paints a hilarious tongue-in-cheek assessment of the stereotypical Brit.


Spainly speaking, it seems we are an apologetic, dog-crazy, dirty, unfit, drunken bunch of tattooed hooligans. And those are our good points!
The bad guys apparently all wear bowler hats and carry umbrellas.


Here’s the lowdown on how Spaniards see us – as interpreted by Perez.


BRIT STEREOTYPE 1: ‘‘They are always saying ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’. Sometimes I think that if you stamped on an Englishman he would apologise. And they say ‘thank you’ so much that the Spanish believe you thank cash machines after withdrawing money.’’


Next comes the obligatory condemnation of our drinking excesses. No, not getting sozzled every day and spending most nights, in the words of Billy Connolly, ‘‘talking to Hughey down the big white telephone’’. Something gentler and more refined than that - tea.


BRIT STEREOTYPE 2: ‘‘They drink tea at all hours – and with COLD milk. Uggh! I thought it was meant to be a hot drink!’’


The fun stops when we move on to the UK’s much-maligned drink culture, which arguably represents the most vivid stereotypical image of an Englishman in the eyes of 21st-century Europe.


BRIT STEREOTYPE 3: ‘‘The English drink far too much beer and wine and they all seem to spend all day in a state of drunkenness. ''


Of course, when we’re on the beach or by the swimming pool, all that booze makes us forget that our white skins are being roasted by el sol.


BRIT STEREOTYPE 4: ‘‘They just can’t take the sun. Their white skin never goes brown – it’s always bright red.’’


And then there is our perceived obsession with queueing.


BRIT STEREOTYPE 5: ‘‘They love to stand in a line waiting. Sometimes I think they make queues when there is nothing to queue for.''


The British attitude to pets is another peculiarity that amuses Perez.

BRIT STEREOTYPE 6: ‘‘They really love their dogs. We think they sleep with them, eat with them, take them on the bus, go into bars and get drunk with them – and then take each other home. They spend a fortune on their animals, but as for having a RABBIT as a pet, now that we cannot understand.’'

Perez confesses that the Channel 4 programme How Clean Is Your House?  sparked a suspicion among Spaniards that the entire nation is DIRTY.


‘‘That TV show is incredible,’’ he says. ‘‘The gardens are clean and tidy, but inside the houses it’s completely the opposite. If I go into an English bar after seeing that programme, I always examine the cups and spoons!’' Then, of course, there is our physical shape.


BRIT STEREOTYPE 7: ‘‘Their fitness levels are bad with lots of people overweight – and the guys all have tattoos and look like hooligans.’’


According to Perez, the Spanish also see us as bashful when it comes to discussing sexual matters and hmmm, let’s say anything involving personal excretions. But when it comes to using the F word, then there’s no holding us back...


Away from the wisecracking, Jose insists that only ignorant people actually BELIEVE these characteristics are representative of the nation. ‘‘Each person is an individual,’’ he insists.


‘‘There are Englishmen who do not drink tea, Spanish who don’t like flamenco, Germans who not have a moustache, Italian pizza haters, non-romantic Frenchmen and Russians who don’t belong to the Mafia.


‘‘Our brain wants to save energy and work quickly, so it creates stereotypes. It's easier to believe than that each person is uniquely different.’’

Like 3


marelison said:
07 November 2015 @ 09:00

Hello, and thank you for this article. Funny to read (I am from Iceland). Well, if the teacher is HE (male) HE can not be a profesorA, or did I misunderstood something ?

Volleyer said:
07 November 2015 @ 09:49

..."and the guys all have tattoos"

... heh why do they single out the guy's... just as many girls do now days!

Donna773 said:
07 November 2015 @ 09:55

Marelison, you are of course correct. I may not know my 'ssons' from my 'dottirs' - but I do know the difference between a guy and a geyser!

carvajaljunkie said:
07 November 2015 @ 10:13

A Spanish bar owner asked me why we use cold milk. A Google search will tell you - cold milk contains many nutrients that are good for us. Putting the cold milk in the cup first and then the hot tea, releases those nutrients and the tea is good for you. If you pour e hot tea in the cup first and then add cold milk, it actually kills the nutrients. Hot milk on its own has no nutrients at all, because they have been killed while heating. So you see, the English are not so stupid after all.

Thistles said:
07 November 2015 @ 12:27

Dear marelison, All teachers are profesorAs. Only the EL or LA differentiate between masculine and feminine

Heledaw said:
07 November 2015 @ 12:56

I sincerely hope that this guy is as non-typical and the British people he's describing. I wonder what the reaction would have been had the situation had been reversed - I suspect people wouldn't have found it quite so amusing.

maggs224 said:
07 November 2015 @ 13:50

What a fun and interesting post. He sounds like a great bloke to have as a Spanish teacher. I love this little peek into how the Spanish see us.

pommers said:
07 November 2015 @ 17:47

I'm sure I've read this article somewhere else recently. Or am I cracking up? Still like it though.

We are also know as the "por favores" as we sat Please far too much as well!

pommers said:
07 November 2015 @ 17:48

for sat read SAY!!! oops

Donna773 said:
07 November 2015 @ 22:04

Maggs224, you are so right. Jose is a fabulous guy with a great sense of humour with a passion for British people. I've just added a photo to this posting in which I think his cheerful personality comes through. Please don't take any of it too seriously - it was all meant to be a laugh at stereotypes, not an attack on the nation.

BJandCJ said:
08 November 2015 @ 21:08

Marilison you are right ....he is a profesor with no 'a'

lobin said:
09 November 2015 @ 12:43

Dear Thistle:

What you said is incorrect. A male teacher is a "profesor", more than one male teacher is "profesores". A female teacher is a "profesora" and more than one female teacher is "profesoras".

Poedoe said:
09 November 2015 @ 13:13

Thousands of Brits love Spain, they are not all young and drink to much. Many of my Spanish and non Nationals friends in Spain are real honourable people, do not cause trouble. Maybe because we have a property inland and the hard working people are only to pleased to know and be friends with.

Poedoe said:
09 November 2015 @ 13:13

Thousands of Brits love Spain, they are not all young and drink to much. Many of my Spanish and non Nationals friends in Spain are real honourable people, do not cause trouble. Maybe because we have a property inland and the hard working people are only to pleased to know and be friends with.

ChristineL said:
09 November 2015 @ 13:42

On the plus side (according to my Spanish property administrator) we are really good at paying our bills on time and make better neighbours because we are so quiet! So not all bad!

m4martini said:
09 November 2015 @ 18:45

Just for some fun, I thought I might turn this around and give my opinion of a stereotypical Spanish person. I might not be so articulate of some of your contributors and have only lived in Spain for 2 years, but here goes... No. 1 Smoking is compulsory, preferably roll-your-own. No.2 The dog thing is quite the opposite where I live (Costa Del Sol). If you're Spanish you must own a dog. Usually a small one, a Yorkie preferably, and at least one. No.3 If you're male and usually under 45, you must be unshaven. No.4 If you have small children, they must be totally out of control and allowed to cause havoc in public places such as bars, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets. If they get hurt or injured then it must be somebody elses fault. No. 5 Talking of fault, it's never yours. If you accidentally knock a glass of water over the usual response is "the glass fell over." No.6 You must make as much noise as possible. When my next door neighbour returns to his apartment and "closes" the door, the whole building vibrates! I'm quite sure it's different everywhere, but these are just a few of my observations. On the plus side, the Spanish friends I've made are some of the most honest, helpful and genuine people I've ever met. Long may it continue.

Poedoe said:
05 December 2015 @ 16:49

Brits do like to put cold milk in tea because they are usually hard working and need to drink tea at the correct temperature, which not scolding hot.

Poedoe said:
05 December 2015 @ 16:49

Brits do like to put cold milk in tea because they are usually hard working and need to drink tea at the correct temperature, which not scolding hot.

marelison said:
12 December 2015 @ 11:40

Hello Donna,

I wonder how you've been study this rule of "son" and "doughter" (in Icelandic = "sonur" and "dóttir"....That's nice to see. - But when I'm telling people how and why this is in Iceland, it seems to be the only right thing to say. - My name is Már and all my children will be the my sons or doughters. - My son, Elí, which b.t.w.lives in Bracknell is my son..Másson. - My doughter, Frida, is "Másdóttir" - Every child is ours sons or doughters, and we have a surname which they are named with. - Thank you again for your blog. These articles are well written and interest me always cause I have a house in Playa Flamenca and go there 2-3 times a year and speak spanish fluently. Trying to write this in english as good as possible. Thank you.

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