Scenario – You have managed to find the name and address of a good plumber; you have phoned him and arranged a time and a date for him to come. He does not show up. A) You wait until he calls you. B) You phone him and keep phoning him until he comes. Response ‘A’ is what a British person would do. We expect that if someone says he will do your work, he will keep his appointment and you are in his diary. Response B is the French way. Anyone who has read typical stories of people buying old houses in the south of France and the tales of builders who never turn up, has been amused by this. Making a fuss seems to be the only way to get your artisan to put you at the top of his list of priorities. Imagine his position. He has twenty clients. Nineteen, phone and email him continually with their ‘urgent’ work. Client number 20 slips from his mind. One of my students has her own way of getting things done. She will go to the doctor’s or dentist’s at the very end of the day, having made no appointment. The receptionist will say that it is impossible for her to see the professional. My lady says, ‘There is no problem, I can wait, I have my flask of coffee, a sandwich and a book.’ The professional wants to go home at the end of the day, so reluctantly agrees to see her!

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