I’M ashamed to say it, but I’ve long given up trying to amuse/impress the locals when on holiday by speaking a little of their lingo.
I have all on trying to get to grips with the local currency.
And that is how it was for the last fortnight in Turkey as I struggled with the lira.
The exchange rate was around 2.75 per pound. I worked it out that for every 11 Turkish lira, I had spent four pounds. So far so good.
But I hadn’t a clue at figuring out whether something was value for money.
I was constantly impressed by the low price of food in restaurants – and shocked as only a born-and-bred Yorkshireman can be when I totted up the final bill at the end of the night.
It was invariably disproportionately high and, I assure you, nothing to do with the number of empty wine bottles rolling around the table as we said goodnight.
But I am back on homeground and back in my comfort zone, seeking out bargains and earnestly trusting the pounds will take care of themselves as I carefully watch the pennies.
I am in good company.
For we are becoming a nation of spendthrifts.
Some say it is the credit crunch which forces families to go bargain hunting.
But I think it goes deeper.
We Baby Boomers cut our pocket money teeth on cheap cuts and cans of suspect contents masquerading as ham.
And that is why I am suspicious of the findings of a survey which reckons that Britain is now a nation of people hungry for a bargain.
We’ve always been that way. Initially it was through necessity, latterly from habit and, yes, satisfaction.
For there is a sense of achievement when you seek out a bargain buy among the supermarket shelves.
And in this respect I am indebted to my local supermarket which includes on its price tickets the cost per kilo so you can compare different brands which are sold in different quantities.
All in all, it gives me a sense of getting back in the driving seat, to some extent.
I can’t do anything about how much is coming in but I can do my little bit to make sure that every penny which goes out is well spent.
And that accounts for the smug smile when I arrive at the checkout.
But that moment of self-satisfaction may not be long-lived if yet another survey is to be believed.
For we are told that the British are growing impatient when it comes to queuing.
What? Rubbish! That’s what we Brits do.
Be it at a bus stop or a chip shop, show us a line and we’ll join it.
It is possibly our most cherished national characteristic. We are a polite lot and nothing will convince me otherwise.
Do they really expect me to believe that the people of England will ever grow tired of queuing?
Experts reckon that we have come to expect more when we venture from our home.
That’s not my experience. I find that the service I receive is increasingly being eroded and becoming poorer.
But does queuing for this make me ‘angry’, as the survey says?
Not in the least. After all, I’m English (albeit a tight-fisted Yorkshire version) but I will never tire of queuing.