Disclaimer to my English friends. Please do not take my (intended) humour seriously. I am playing to my “home” audience. It is all in well intended jest. I am your neighbor now for the next six months. I hope to be your friend. Please feel free to tell me all your pent-up California and Blonde jokes, without fear of offense!
Part of the romance of living in a foreign country is the chance to have deeper experiences with the locals and to really learn about the country in depth. One week isn’t even a good vacation duration, but already I think I have some insights to share. I have divided this post into two parts, things I have (in my own mind) “figured out”, and “mysteries” that remain to be fathomed. If you have some answers to these, I would love to hear them.
If the forecast is “rain”, it will rain.
If the forecast is “chance of rain”, it will rain.
If the forecast is “partly cloudy”, it will rain.
If the forecast is “partly sunny”, it will rain.
If the forecast is “sunny”, it will be sunny in the morning and rain in the afternoon.
Granted, this is only a one-week observation, but my money is on it being astonishingly accurate throughout the year. At least the grass is green.
Speaking of grass, the term salad here, usually referred to as “greens”, means just that…..whatever is growing along the side of the road can and will be picked, washed(?), and served up as a side dish on your plate. Cindi prefers the term weeds. In a really nice place, they call them “dressed greens”. That seems to mean that they have removed the stems, gravel and tree bark before plating them. I can assure you it has nothing to do with salad dressing. Surprisingly refreshing!
Lettuce (watercress) is considered unsuitable for consumption, except at tea time in watercress and mayo finger sandwiches.
Also, anything scrapped from the bark of a tree or off a rock is also highly prized as a “topping”. So far, they must be right as the roughage has done my digestion just fine. Cindi has not been eating the “salad” and has not fared as well…. serves her right.
Virtually half of the TV stations here show only American drama series and American movies. They must be wildly popular. Compared to the BBC offerings, they must seem action packed. Yet, surprisingly, even with all this language immersion, the British still seem to still resist learning proper English, “neeew day ‘aven’t”.
Mind you, we are in the countryside. I mean “the” countryside. Our village is 400 people. It’s one of the bigger ones. But the Cotswold’s are crisscrossed by some of the most beautiful country lanes in the world. Narrow mind you, but with just such a pristine, almost medieval character, they are a joy to drive. Expect for the “puddles”. (Did I mention it rains a lot?). Here you can virtually translate “puddle” into “huge pothole in disguise”. I mean neck-snapping, tie-rod-end-bending potholes. And those are the ones in the middle of the road that you can usually avoid. The real man eaters are on the outer (left from where I sit) side that you cannot avoid because there is a car coming the other way and you MUST move over or risk your near side mirror ending up in the backseat (remember Gregg?).
Surprised to see this in the “learned” category? Well, I for one, am absolutely sure that gnomes exist. In fact, they are responsible for refilling all those potholes from their water bags after each car bends a wheel emptying them. I can just smell those little buggers lurking the weeds (salad?) on the side of the road, rolling with laughter as my head bounces off the roof of the car.
MYSTERIES THAT REMAIN
As I said from the start of this post, many things still remain a mystery to me. Perhaps the truth will be revealed as my mind is expanded and my accent changes. I am sure in the future many more mysteries will present themselves. I look forward to the challenge.
The Names of Things
Do the British intentionally misspell names, or are they speaking in a secret code, or (most likely) do they just get a big kick out of Americans mucking up the words so they can have a good laugh? To wit,
Gloucester is pronounced “gloster”.
Worchester pronounced “wooster”
Leicester (last year’s Premier League winner) is pronounced “lester”.
Reading (beer festival) is redding.
Derby is “darby”
Don’t even ask me to pronounce Cirencester.
And then there are town names in the Cotswold’s. It’s Stow-on-Wold (forest), Bourton-on-the-Water, but it’s Moreton-in-Marsh. If Stow is ON the forest, why is Moreton IN the marsh? Do you see a conspiracy here? I do.
Dogs seem to hold a sacred esteem here. Dogs can go into stores, dogs can go into pubs, dogs can go into hotels, dogs can go into damn near anywhere (can dogs go to church?…I have not tried that one yet). Usually dogs must be on “leads” (leashes). But this is widely disregarded until either a.) they fight with other dogs or b.) they poop. Whether they poop on the floor or on my jacket is largely not a concern of the owners. They are, after all, dogs.
A sign at one pub reads, “dogs allowed with well behaved owners”. I think that says it all.
Here is a sign on my “local” (that means the one and only pub in my town, so if you send this post to them and they kick me out, I will get my revenge.) As you can see, they are even MORE permissive! (If you don’t know what a bantam is, well it’s not a boxer that weighs 110 pounds, Google it).
I have seen no sign of tolerance for cats, birds, gerbils, pot bellied pigs, etc. Where are the ASPCA and ACLU when you need them?
Suffice to say, there are only two kinds of acceptable artwork here. Dogs, and dogs. Occasionally a fox running from the dogs. Occasionally fox hunters riding with the dogs. Occasionally dogs sleeping or eating. But always dogs. Sniffing, pawing, lollygagging, just dogs being dogs. Fascinating. I hope it sells.
The Great Gasoline Conspiracy
The currency is Pounds Sterling. The Distance from on place to another is in Miles. The Fuel is sold by the Liter. The formula for converting your latest fuel purchase into miles per gallon is E=MC2. Square roots are hard to compute whilst driving. Hands free and all. So, you divide the liters by about four and attempt to make that into gallons which you then divide into the miles in hopes of…………well concluding that it is damn expensive. I am sure that all British drivers are given a little gizmo that automatically does this. It’s just us foreigners. Another conspiracy?
My mind is working (or not working) overtime. Perhaps it is the effect of some roadside “greens” I ate, or just the Pinot Noir. Tomorrow will tell. Wish I had downloaded Jimmie Hendrix at Woodstock.