Tag Archives: Britain

Oh, To Be A Brit!

I must admit, I was a bit disappointed upon coming to the UK, to discover that my dreams didn’t immediately have accents.

If my laptop (moment of silence in reverent memory of Steve Jobs) could change time zones without my assistance, and my Ebay account show only UK listings, then surely my dreams would get the message that it was time to Britanize the settings.

But, rude awakening to reality, I’ve still got that horrific California drawl of an OhMyGod! accent…even while I’m sleeping.

The adaptation processes is currently underway.

The one where I’m consistently in the wrong about how to say, and how to spell, and how to eat, and how to dress, and how to cross the street.

And have got to start adding a ‘u’ to color and eating french fries with a fork (and calling them ‘chips’ while I’m at it) and making the word ‘you’ plural (as in, “Would yous like some butterscotch pudding?”) and getting made fun of when I pronounce ‘garage,’ and ‘tomato’ like an “American.”

Or if I use the word ‘pickle,’ or ‘pants.’

Or ask for napkins in a restaurant.

Or inquire as to how many touchdowns were scored in a rugby game.

Or try to read the weather report, or bake something, only to discover I have absolutely no idea how hot, or cold anything ever is.

As my terms for heat and frost have been reduced to just that, “hot” and “cold.”

Numbers and temperatures have gained a liberating sort of insignificance.

Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

But despite all those desiccately dry British jokes (the majority at my own expense…) that I simply just don’t get (because there is nothing TO get).

There’s something I absolutely can’t help but admire about a country thats’ trains are faster than their busses.

That loves Jaffa Cakes almost as much as they love their queen.

And that dress their policemen up in such cute little outfits.

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The Great Cracker Challenge.

  

Living in Apartment Number Two of the largest student-housing complex in town means that we get a lot of visitors.

Mainly due to the lack of flights of stairs required to scale in order to reach our front door. After a mere literal hop and a skip, you’re in the building.

News Flash: A rainforest genocide has taken place and the results are apparent by the twenty seven odd pamphlets slid under our door each half hour. Advertising new salons, an Indian food buffet, this Friday’s jungle themed rave, and a free bag of chips with the purchase of a new printer.

Believe me, there is quite a party going on beneath our doorframe.

And those are just the notices from those either to respectful, or just to lazy to knock.

There’s another whole genre of PR folks who’ll pound down your door with their various rhythms of knocking until you open it up and listen to their spiel.

We always glue our faces against the peephole and give the knocker a thorough once over evaluation before deciding whether or not to let them in, at the high stake sacrifice of giving them a couple minutes of our lives that we’ll never get back again.

But I’d take the PR staff any day rain or shine over the man who tests our fire alarms. He has this tendency to barge in at all hours of the wee morning, and put off the fire alarms under the pretenses of “testing them.” I’ve come to the sole conclusion that as a youngen he had many a sleep cycle interrupted by intrusive fire alarms, and from a psychological standpoint, he now seeks to make amends by persecuting countless other meager seekers of knowledge.

Just the other day after a bit of habitual knocking, I swing open my door indignantly to reveal probably the most intriguing triumvirate to ever grace the carpeted hearth of Flat Two.

They labeled themselves as architecture students, raising money for their new project of outdoor classrooms.

I wasn’t sure how pleasantly this would pan out with the harsh and icy Scottish windy weather. But I wasn’t there to interrogate them on the practicalities of their scheme, I was present merely to cock my head in wonder at the sign strung round the young mans neck, reading,

“Can YOU Eat Four Crackers In One Minute?”

I don’t know, could I? Surely four crackers wouldn’t be too difficult for a bigmouth such as I.

They all held uniformly mischievous smiles and a single orange bag of seemingly innocent crackers.

The challenge was thus: Consume four crackers in one minute, and win a bottle of Irn Bru (a type of strong orange flavored soda, so popular it’s practically the national drink of Scotland…and nowhere else…).

It was a tempting offer.

And I’ve never been good with temptation.

Reluctantly, I shoveled over a pound, and came to the realization that those elementary school wrapping paper fundraisers never really come to an end, they are just revamped to create a college rendition of the door to door give me all your money tactic of acquiring funds.

So I began.

One cracker at a time.

Liquids not permitted.

Biting through the stack of parched cardboard, the crackers crumbling beneath each other in their crispy shards of dry.

I chewed.

And chewed.

And choked.

And all I could hear was the sound of my relentless salty chewing.

I paced the hallway to the recurring sound of the architects dull counting down of the seconds.

And I heard behind me the muffled expectant cheering of my flat mates.

And then came the loudest sound of all, the dry chortle of sawdust spewing from my mouth as I bent over the bathroom sink gasping through splinters of wheat as failure glared at me in layers from the depths of my bathroom drain.

Most likely a photograph is neither necessary, nor appreciated, and I’m quite certain your imagination is vibrant enough to conjure up it’s own mental picture. However I’m never one to waste a perfectly good photo….

 

Trust it to students to come up with a fund raising idea of such ludicrous proportions, and leave it to students to actually participate in, and enjoy (relatively) said activity.

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All Moved In And Eating Lots Of Toast.

My new best friend.

Couldn’t think of any better way to say: I’m moved in.

On average, we consume about five toasties each per day.

Six flat mates in total.

Now, I’m not much of a math person, but that is a lot of toast and cheese.

Simple. Brilliant. Delicious.

A very global, British-esque version of a quesadilla.

I suppose it’s safe to say, I made it over. I made it moved in.

And am currently in the involuntary process of becoming everything British.

One week down, and hot toast and tea has become my primary staple. 

As if on cue, just to remind me of where I am, Jonathan yells across the flat in distress at Gordon, “How do I tie these bloody laces round my ankles?”

It seems getting dressed for a fancy evening out becomes a bit more complicated if you’re required to wear a skirt.

Especially a plaid one.

With no underwear.

Gordon and Jonathan, both medics, are headed out to a “Caleigh,” a type of scottish dancing ball, this one specifically for doctors.

Jonathan has been griping all week over the sixty pounds he had to spend to rent his kilt. It was the cheapest one in the shop and he had to buy kilt insurance as well, a concept I found to be ridiculously entertaining.

Gordon, the only son in his family, owns the kilt with their specific tartan that had been passed down for ages, well, at least from the sixties. He occupied himself with firing rapid complaints over the length of the sleeves, which to be fair were about three inches shy of fabric. As well as the avocado color and “lame” pleat of his very vintage kilt.

All I can do is thank the lord almighty that my flatmates where graced with considerably much more patience than I myself possess. As they tolerated the stupid blonde American, as she photographed literally every moment of their existence as though I was a proud parent taking pictures of prom night and the pinning of the corsage.

I couldn’t help it.

They were wearing kilts.

It really doesn’t get much cooler than that.


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Ready For TakeOff.

I absolutely NEVER sit next to cute guys on airplanes.

And I have been on a lot of airplanes.

The seating chart roulette always lands me next to those little kids that squeal and kick the backs of other people’s seats repetitively, and then those other people flip their heads backwards and send me those small snarky glares meant to intimidate me into controlling my child. Either that, or old woman.

Not that I have anything at all against them, it’s just that they don’t happen to be cute guys.

Which, biased though I may be, is always preferable.

“God, I love karma.”

I thought to myself while heartily examining the back view of the young man taking up all my compartment space in the overhead storage area.

Normally I’d be significantly ticked off by the intrusive demeanor of his luggage. Except that him placing his lumpy orange duffel all up in my space meant only one thing.

That my space, was his, to get all up in. 

Swoon.

I don’t remember his name, apologies, was a bit distracted. However I guarantee that it was a very nice one, in fact there’s probably a couple of colognes named after him, and one dedicated solely to his fresh and dewy in-flight airplane scent. 

So I’m sitting there, avoiding the armrest and all eye contact, safety informational tutorial droning on in the background. Alerting me in the case of emergency, to remove all high heel shoes, as they may puncture a hole in the aircraft slide. 

Here I am, trying to think of something remarkably stunning to say. Wishing I knew Cameron Diaz’s cousin or something, so that I could casually slingshot it into a conversation, racking up a jackpot of “cool by association” points.

When all of a sudden I blurt out, “I lost my passport!!!”

And it worked. Instant conversation. Just add water.

In no time flat, he became very interested in where and when the last time I remember having my passport (and ticket…) was.

This is a start.

Maintaining interest in each other is a key factor to any steady relationship.

And he was down on his hands and knees, checking around my seat, and under the feet of my neighbors. I was tearing apart my backpack, and flipping wildly through those pamphlets filled with overpriced items in the back pouches of each seat.

And all of this would have probably been just fine and dandy.

If it hadn’t been that I really had lost my passport, and if the flight attendant man with the perfectly parted, if slightly greasy hair hadn’t come over and informed us that in order for take-off all passengers had to be securely buckled as was announced in the safety instructional video. Which I hadn’t necessarily been watching said video as I had much more important tasks to complete at the time, like losing my passport.

Ever wondered how to lose something you’re clutching in both hands and guarding with your life? Look an Irish man in the eyes. 

When I stand up to do one last search in my overhead baggage, I glimpse a lonely looking passport neglected in a far corner.

Sure enough, it had my very own horrifically un-photogenic picture gracing the inside cover.

Maybe there’s a very good reason I never sit next to cute guys on airplanes.

…It’s for my own good.

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