03 August 2011

A Friendless Six Month Moan

So next week at this time, I will have lived in England for 6 months. I’ve learned a lot in those six months, least of which is that feel like a social piraya* the majority of the time I am out in public. In six months, Andy and I have made a total of zero friends. I blame most of this on the basic fact that we don’t go out much because of the baby. I’m sure if Andy and I were still living our carefree pub filled weekends we’d be friends with the mayor of Liverpool by now (I, of course, can not be bothered to look up whether or not there is such a thing as a mayor of Liverpool - and if so, who he or she might be). Regardless, this zero friend business means that it’s been a fairly lonely 6 months and that I am more than willing to chuck in any level of pride in order to make friends. Yes, it’s true. I saw ‘the Great Outdoors’ and immediately looked up if there were any walking clubs in my area. I don’t even like walking.

During the week I try to go out at least once a day. I go for walks (even though I don’t like walking, it helps Henry sleep), I go to the shops, I go to playgroup. I try to engage people in conversation as much as I hate making the first step to small talk. All my efforts have been fruitless and I spend more time repeating what I’ve just said or asking them to repeat something – which isn’t prudent for good conversation. I just recently discovered this article, only to realize that I have been guilty of every single one of the points listed. Seriously, who doesn’t introduce themselves right away? It’s not like I’m going to enforce a mandatory Christmas card exchange if I know your first name for fuck’s sake.

Anyhow, there’s this language barrier thing going on as well. It’s more of an accent barrier really. I spent a miserable two hours at the hair salon on Monday being dutifully ignored conversation wise starting with my request for water.

“Would you like some coffee or tea?”

“I’ll just have water, thanks.”

(blank stare)

(more blank stares)

“Oh! Water. Sure, I’ll get one for you.”

As most of you realize, in the American accent ‘water’ is actually pronounced ‘wadder’. Don’t believe me? Say really fast, “Do you have water” and tell me if there’s a ‘T’ anywhere in what you just said. The English, of course, say ‘water’ with the ‘T’ firmly in place and as much as I try REALLY FUCKING HARD to say ‘water’ and not ‘wadder’, it always slips out. So I get blank stares until the person surmises that I’m an idiot who doesn’t realize there’s a ‘T’ in the word and refuses to talk to me further. By the way, you’d be surprised how often ‘water’ comes in basic conversation.

Andy and I joined the tennis club in our area. No, we don’t play tennis. We joined as auxiliary members to drink at their bar and make friends on our days off (the days where Andy’s mum baby-sits). We were there on Saturday hanging out, trying to chat with anyone who would let us. I noticed that they had a sign asking for volunteers so I asked the woman in charge if they still needed volunteers and if so, I’d be more than willing. Now, this is for volunteering. There is no pay in volunteering. YET, I still had this exchange:

“Well, it’s for bartending shifts.”

“Perfect! I used to bartend – for many years in fact.”

“Well, it would be week nights probably – maybe some weekends.”

“That’s no problem. I don’t work so I’m always free.”

“It would be late nights.”

“That wouldn’t be an issue for me.”

“Like REALLY late nights”

“That’s fine, really.”

“Alright, well…give me your name and number and I’ll call you if something comes up.”

I gave the woman my name and number and she wrote it down on a piece of paper. But she then left that piece of paper sitting in front of me the entire time we were there. I reminded her when we left that it was still there which I think was her cue that it was finally safe for her to chuck my number in the bin.

Seriously people, I’m trying. I’m moaning about this as I’ve never gone this long in a new place without meeting new friends. It’s frustrating and depressing. I know Andy means well but he telling me that “at least Henry and I like you” doesn’t actually help. Andy and Henry are REQUIRED to like me. If they don’t like me, I’m going to cut off their monthly cash deposits.

I’m not going to give up though (it’s not the American way!). Tomorrow I’m going to meet up with some local mums that are having a ‘Meet Up’ from netmums. We’re meeting in a park. I’m sure there will be walking.


*If you watch ‘Modern Family’ there was an episode where Haley says, “If you do this, you’ll be a social piranha.” Alex replies, “Yes, I’ll be an Amazonian carnivorous fish.” Andy wondered why I didn’t laugh at the time as it’s a pretty good joke. Just to nail home the ‘I’m an idiot’ factor, I had always thought ‘piraya’ was another word for ‘piranha’. I mean, I wouldn’t want to hang around a piranha, especially since they would eat me. It made sense. I’ve since been corrected.

 Me, with my new red contact lenses in.  Do you like them?


  1. I know exactly what you're talking about. It's not just about being in a new country (tho obviously that's a big part of it.) I'd lived in the US for many years before I got married, changed jobs and had a baby. I was now living in a new town, the town I worked in was 60 miles away and I had NO friends. It has taken me years to begin feel like I have any kind of a social life. The new mums group was OK - but a bit like being back in junior high trying to figure out which group I would fit in. (None of them it turned out - I only ever made one friend there.) Now the kids are older, it's easier to do things like volunteer for the PTO (tho I know many of the people I meet there will probably never become long-term friends.)

    When I first came to the States I made a conscious effort to change my accent, and that made a real difference back then. I'd have to do the same to change it back again if I moved back to the UK now!!

  2. Well, if it's any consolation, my husband and I are both Americans living in Britain (Midlands, over here) and I'd say it took just about a year for us to feel like we had a decent group of friends, and it was definitely a drifting experience. People have lives that are already sorted and I think many people think fitting another person in is just too much bother. Plus, I find people more reserved here than in America, so it takes a whole to go from the 'quick one after work' stage to 'let's actually hang out' stage

  3. AA: A lot of people tell me that it will be different once Henry is in school. I don't think they grasp that waiting 3-5 years is much of a consolation. By the way, are you saying I should try to put on an English accent? ;-) I actually try this around Andy because it irritates him that I do it so badly. Ha!

    Anon: They are more reserved, aren't they? I guess I'll have to exercise some patience. (Grr!)

  4. Awww. I know how much having people to hang out with and have fun with is important to you. Have you tried to find something like an Americans in England group or something? Wish I had the means to visit you as much as I wanted.

    I know it is a little different, but it has been almost three years that I have been in Wausau and I don't have any hang out on a regular basis friends yet either. Having a kid really changes your ability to find and hang out with friends. At least you have a babysitter every once in a while.


  5. BH: I actually have looked into that. All the Americans live in London apparently.

  6. I'm really glad I was a student when I moved to the UK, so I was able to make friends on my course. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have had any friends the entire time I was there.

    I didn't have friends in Dublin for 6 months and I was going nuts. I told my husband that yes, I love him, but I need girlfriends! That's when I started my blog and found all my friends through there!

  7. Kim: I think I curse too much for this blog to be any good for me in that department.

  8. Courage, Moe! Don't, whatever you do, blame yourself: so much depends on the demographic combined with your circs & personality (the latter's the least + last consideration, so please don't consider yourself a pariah!).
    I've lived in capital/regional cities at home & abroad; towns, villages and had a different reception in every one! Give 'em time.
    Maybe try MumsNet (local meetings & they don't mind the odd swear word).
    Good luck!

  9. Sorry - my comment wasn't really very helpful, was it? :-( No, you can't wait till the little one starts school to make friends, and changing your accent is not going to help if people think you're making fun of their accent . . . I do know what you're going through tho'! Hope the netmums group works out!

  10. WELCOME TO THE BLOG - www.virgemdeguadalupe.blogspot.com

  11. I'm an occassional lurker who sprouts up when I am need of reading a good blog on one of my i've-never-been-there-favorite places (liverpool!)& am one of those ridiculous ppl you probably would despise as I completely melt over adorable babies & would coo all over yours (I'm a nanny- can't help it- it's genetic)... so you were the 3rd person I thought of when I heard the riots popped up in Liverpool (I apologize for the rating- but I do follow LFC, then I thought of the homeless...pathetic, I no)... ANY HOW, the point of my writing! I just hope that you and your family are perfectly wonderful & are most importantly safe... please take care of yourselves, & I hope this situation dissolves quickly & safely.

    Praying for ya'll.



  12. Min: Thanks for the encouraging words. I will definitely try NetMums.

    AA: I was trying my accent again with Andy this weekend. Everything sounds like I'm Irish-Canadian.

    Ana: Thanks for reading and thanks for the concern. The Liverpool riots last night were 2-3 miles away from us. Even though we were up at the time, we didn't even know it happened until we read the paper this morning. Meaning of course, we are fine and well and our wheelie bin is perfectly intact. ;-)

    BTW, I don't despise people who fawn over babies! I do despise people who claim to be supermoms and tell others that they are bad parents for doing so-in-so...but that's another thing completely.