Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Tuesday 11th June - Amiens

Language is a curious thing, body language is curiouser.  A simple nod of the head for instance as one is passing another person, in our culture means something like: “Hello my friend, how are you going, I hope you are having a great time”.   It took quite some time for us to realise that those same sentiments are expressed here by a quick upwards jerk of the chin, the sort of movement that in our custom would tend in be saying something very impolite indeed.

We have become students of late of the body language of novice rowers, as they complete their evening laps beside our mooring.  Their concentration is intense.  They, none of them, appear to be having a good time.   We do our best to lift their spirits by giving them a cheery wave as they splash and wobble by.  On their first circuit, they instinctively want to reciprocate in kind.  Confusion reigns for a moment as they smile back, simulaneously realising that waving with an oar in the hand is not such a practical idea while powerless to overcome the urge.  A sea of conflicting emotions overwhelms them, muscle memories not yet set.  On subsequent circuits they tend to avoid a recurrence by studiously averting our gaze.    

Experienced rowers simply glide by, happy to lift that chin and nose high in the air as they pass which, while we like to think that we understand the intended sentiment, still leaves us with that lingering doubt that they just might be signalling in our own language, perhaps expressing certain sentiments their less experienced colleagues have thus far left unsaid.

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