Guestpost #19: Jen Littlewood – Ten things I learned from “suffering” from English repression

Jen is a terrific performer and an extremely funny person in an understated (read: British) way. Here is her bio:
Jen has lived in Wakefield, Nottingham, London, Chicago, and Toronto. She has worked in a theatre, a bar, a strip club (not in that way), another theatre, another bar, a bedroom/office space, an improv theatre, another improv theatre, and the British Houses of Parliament. She likes to improvise, swing a golf club, ride a horse, watch a television, read a book, look at a picture, and watch you eat food. She currently lives in one of the places mentioned, works at one of the establishments described, and participates in several of the activities listed. If you have time, you should go to this website, see a show, take a class and generally enjoy the things it has to offer, so that it will stay in business and she will stay employed. www.secondcity.com

Background: English people tend to suppress, repress, hide, not show, and generally lack any form of normal emotion and feeling. This is what is meant by the term ‘English repression’.

  1. I will never be able to properly explain English repression to the non-English. Probably because due to said repression, I don’t like to talk about it, but I’ll try. When faced with potentially talking about their emotions an English person feels kind of like Tom Cruise during that bit in Eyes Wide Shut where the dude in the red mask tells him to take off his mask in front of hundreds of other masked dudes, i.e. pretty fucking terrified.
  2. Calling your Mother when you live in another country is always harrowing. What if she says ‘I love you’ You have to say it back, you can’t not say it back, that would be wrong wouldn’t it? But you can’t actually say it, that’s also wrong. After 18 months of this problem I have learned that an awkward ‘mmhmm, er yep, you too’ will do the trick.
  3. Suppressing emotion does not include anger/annoyance. I am frequently very angry and annoyed with things, the general public in particular are a constant thorn in my side. In fact anger may be the only release I have, so please do not tell me to relax when I am lamenting the idiocy of humankind.
  4. It causes a lot of tension in the shoulders and neck area. Get a massage you say? Preposterous, who is that person touching me, that’s weird, get off me let me just sit and try to massage my right shoulder with my left hand and my left shoulder with my right hand, I’m fine with that.
  5. Every now and again when enough emotion has been built up over a long enough period of time the English feel like Tom Cruise during that bit at the end of Eyes Wide Shut and will just cry all over Nicole Kidman for ever and ever (N.B. I recently re-watched Eyes Wide Shut).
  6. Meeting your heroes is actually a very relaxing thing, you know you aren’t going to experience anything like the embarrassing over excitement that others feel so while the Americans are frozen in a corner screaming “Stephen Colbert, it’s Stephen Colbert,” You have all the time in the world to say “Hi Stephen, I’m Jen” and then chat nicely for a while. Careful if he touches your shoulder though, no amount of repression can deal with that.
  7. When you are drunk and someone equally intoxicated shouts “you’re my best friend” at you, saying “yeah sure, you’re fine too I guess” back to them, will make them cry.
  8. The few emotions you are able to express must, if male, be dictated by the English football teams performance and, if female, by the successes and failures of Colin Firth. So it’s been a pretty good few months for me.
  9. Having an English accent makes you seem instantly funny, interesting, intelligent, employable, and adorable, however, none of these things will help you get a date due to your crippling inability to just say ‘hey, wanna go on a date?’
  10. Oh for goodness sake enough, I have revealed far too much, back to my repression.

2 Comments

Filed under tenthingsivelearned, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Guestpost #19: Jen Littlewood – Ten things I learned from “suffering” from English repression

  1. It seems to have a firm hold on me too. It’s taken me 15 years to crack the code and I imagine it will take another 15 years to finally remove the programming of my first 15 years.

  2. Pingback: Resolution update #2? Or #3? « New New New Blog

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