I am reading this fascinating book called "Watching the English" by Kate Fox.
It is an English anthropologist studying the English people, not the Scots or the Welsh, let alone those grungy colonials. She's studying the English.
It is, I have to admit, fascinating. Especially as a grubby colonial with English family.
One of the things that struck me in the book was her comment that many English women open conversations with a compliment, coupled with a self-denigrating comment, the reply follows the same formula. This is a form of conversation opener and a kind of 'social grooming', a way of maintaining a relationship...relatively meaningless, but makes everyone happy and keeps us all in touch.
What is striking for me is that many Catalans here have commented on how often I compliment people.
There was one woman who, when pregnant, said she LOVED to run into me because I always commented on how wonderful she looked - for all intents and purposes an obligatory remark when speaking to the obviously pregnant, at least within my stretch of the world.
Seems the Catalans routinely comment on how fat and whale-like pregnant women look.
Fascinating how differently we work in small matters some times.
I would still prefer to be told I was glowing with health and beauty however fat, baggy-eyed, greasy and nauseous I was/looked.
Then again, I'm an anglo.