Oh, don't you just loath that awkward, tiresome moment when one has to introduce oneself to a perfect stranger. Well, as it transpires, if you know the rules, then everything is quite simple. But, alors, if, like moi, you also happen to hail from the continent, where they, thank goodness, drive on the right side of the road; fathoming certain maxims of this charming green island might be a bit of a challenge.
Admittedly, the rigid order of the bygone era has significantly blurred these days (not necessarily for the best in certain cases), but it never hurt anyone to know the basics. Besides, no matter how many people do something the wrong way, it still does not make it right, non? Where was I? Oh, yes introductions. See, cher ami, if you find yourself invited by „polite English society“ - most commonly known as „posh people“ (a rather unfairly negative attribute, moi thinks, as they are quite a nice bunch once you grasp certain peculiarities), quite likely, first and foremost, you will be met by this queer English idiom „How do you do?“. Sadly, in this commercial age it is being more frequently replaced by a brash „What do you do?“, but thankfully not everywhere yet. So back to this mysterious phrase, which might sound like a very ordinary question, but alas, has now become the some sort of tool for sifting „outsiders“. One could write a dissertation on the origin, use and meaning of this peculiar greeting, but I shall not bore you with any of this. Suffice to know, that it is only expected of you to repeat it, word by word, „How do you do?“. Et voila! You are acquainted. Then only a mere formality of the name exchange remains, and you are good to plunge into a profound discussion about the weather (more about that some other time). Oh, juste une petite remarque, if I may. Many a time I had a good fortune to socialise with people from your corner of the world, and could not help but notice, that this name exchange business does not always come easy. I do agree, mes amis, that some names are indeed quite a mouthful to pronounce, but these are your names, given to you by your parents in a good faith, and you should not for a second feel self-conscious or, even worse, apologetic. Can you imagine, say, a certain French Madame Églantine Espargilliere or Monsieur Calixte Fonscolombe ever harbouring even a slightest sensibility that their name might appear a bit of a tongue-twister to the foreigner (or even to the compatriot, for that matter).
Ultimately, London is heaving with unpronounceable names of all sorts of origin. And if one might not expect his appellation to be enunciated flawlessly, please do give your fellow companion a chance by pronouncing it clearly and articulately, looking straight into their eyes and even explaining any difficult sounds, if needed. Also, do not forget, that by asking your name at the initial encounter, an Englishman would expect to hear both, your name and surname. So introduce yourself fully first, and then, if the surname is rather cumbersome, indicate that it is alright to be addressed by the first name only.
However, always bear in mind, that any polite, well-mannered person will make an effort to remember and pronounce even the most difficult of names. Thus, if someone is demonstrably turning up his nose at the exotic sound of numerous vowels and consonants.... they might not be worthy of your time and your acquaintance. Feel free to nod and walk away. Bon courage, mes amis, and till the next time.