The first time I heard him say it was during a trip on the 254 bus. We had passed through Stamford Hill and we were now travelling along the Seven Sisters Road towards Manor House tube. This long straight stretch of road was flanked on both sides by a collection of vast housing estates. Although they weren’t the high rises filmmakers use as a backdrop when they want to suggest urban decay, something about them depressed me.
‘Can you imagine what it would be like to live in one of those?’ I said in a low voice.
‘You are just spoilt and western,’ came the reply from my Czech companion.
I admire the way Czechs know how to get by without spending a lot. I do, really. I’m pretty thrifty myself: I can make a roast chicken stretch for at least three meals and unlike many of my British friends, I have modest savings rather than a whopping overdraft. That’s why it puzzles me that my behaviour is still somehow deemed spoilt. Anyway, here’s a list of my deviant actions I have complied so you can judge for yourselves…
8 Ways to Impress your Czech Partner with your Spoilt and Western Behaviour
1) Paying for anything you already have or could somehow get for free. You’ll notice how very few Czech people ‘forget’ to bring a carrier bags with them to the supermarket now you have to pay for them.
2) Owning more than two pairs of jeans. It has taken me a number of years to convince Czechman that owning more than six T-shirts, two sweatshirts and two pairs of jeans is not bad and wrong.
3) Spending money on having a tea or coffee not because you really want to drink it, but because you want to sit somewhere warm while waiting for the train/bus.
4) Using a taxi. Ever.
5) Refusing to eat sandwiches in a bus shelter in a remote part of Scotland in the rain while on holiday and demanding to be taken to the nearest pub for lunch instead.
6) Believing it is acceptable to spend more than 100Kc (£3) on a hot meal at lunchtime (including a hot or cold beverage).
7) Believing it is acceptable to spend 150kc (£5) on a hot beverage and a slice of cake while socialising with girlfriends.
8) Refusing to travel abroad by coach rather than by plane. It may reduce your carbon footprint. It may be cheaper. It may be a way of avoiding annoying stag parties. I’m not sitting on a coach for fifteen hours. Sorry.
The points listed above may or may not be based on actual events or reflect the current views of Czechman who may or may not exist.
Sorry. I had to put that bit in or he’ll get upset.