Easing my Way into England
Trip Start Jun 01, 2008
13Trip End Ongoing
What brought me to England, you ask? Well, I've always wanted to go to England, but I was looking for a good excuse to go. And then suddenly, there were two good excuses, in the form of two very special people named Dilip and Silke. Dilip makes his appearance in this entry, Silke in the entry for London.
So, this was my chance to go to England. Beforehand, I had so many pre-conceived notions I could hardly contain them. This was the land of Bridget Jones, the Beatles, Love Actually (and other Hugh Grant classics), Monty Python, Tony Blair, crumpets, crooked teeth, bland food, nasty weather, tea, hypnotizingly posh accents, and keen comedy at every turn. Where do I begin describing how the reality matched up?
First, I will say that Bridget Jones, the Beatles, Hugh Grant, Monty Python, and Tony Blair were nowhere to be foundWee Man at Heathrow Airport.
Second, while I am told that crumpets are consumed readily in the United Kingdom, I never came across any. Probably, if I had shown any initiative on this matter I could have had my crumpets and eaten them too, but I kind of forgot that I wanted to have some until it was too late.
Third, I noticed no, repeat, no crooked teeth.
Fourth, there seems to be a food revolution sweeping the UK. Nearly every restaurant I saw advertised "free range" this, "organic" that, and "locally-grown" the other. The food was so flavorful! I had the proverbial "fish and chips" and the legendary "bangers and mash" and they were really tasty. I mean the flavors were really strong and fresh, I assume, from lack of processing. The milk was so smooth that every cup of coffee I had tasted like hot chocolate. And this is to say nothing of the elaborate meals that Dilip cooked up on a daily basis. First thing in the morning and evening every day he was downstairs in the kitchen concocting masterpieces of English breakfast, homemade pesto, spanish omelet, chorizo sausage and bean gulash, scones with raspberries and cornish clotted cream, bacon and black pudding, cole slaw, zesty salads with homemade vinaigrettes, and apple crisp with self-picked apples from the Royal Horticultural Society Autumn Festival, where we spent the day on Thursday
Fifth, nasty weather. We had two days in London when it was cold and rainy and my umbrella kept turning inside out. Other than that, it was chilly but clear the rest of the time.
Sixth, tea. Yeah, Dilip made me a few cream teas, and they were delicious, but honestly, I was so impressed with the coffee that I had several cups everyday.
Seventh, hypnotizingly posh accents. Okay, well, yes, everyone I met in England had a hypnotizing accent, but the degree of poshness varied depending on region and frequency of swearing. What really made for some humorous discussions was the differences in idiomatic expressions between British and American English. Here are some examples:
"minted" = rich;
"sorted" = set;
"pants" = underwear;
"knickers in a twist" = panties in a wad;
"top up" = refill;
"fancy dress party" = costume party;
"give it a miss" = I'll pass;
"numpty" = fool/idiot;
"nicked" = stolen;
"What are you on about?" = What are you talking about; and
"not on" = not cool.
Eighth, keen comedy at every turn. It was my good fortune to coincidentally be in England at the same time as the Brighton comedy festival. On Friday night, Dilip and I hopped on the train to Brighton, where we were joined by his French friend Alex and attended a stand-up show called, the Best of the Fest. And that brings us to the next entry from Brighton.