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October 21, 2015

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For those of us who don't drink coffee anyway, and don't own a gun, Britain can sound like heaven. But that's because the weather isn't in the information that we usually get. Even if you are from Seattle, you will find it not only rains as much as you (unlike the rest of us) are used to, most of the other days are chilly and foggy.

Also, you don't realize how short people used to be unless you are over 6' tall, and try to walk thru a doorway in an older British building -- "older" being more than about 300 years for these purposes. Even though the British tend not to see anything less than 500 years old as really old. I must have laid open my forehead 4-5 times before I learned to always duck. Guess I'm a slow learner.

Also, you don't realize how short people used to be unless you are over 6' tall, and try to walk thru a doorway in an older British building

My wife and I sleep in a bed that she inherited from her grandmother. It was built in 1801 or 1802, as a wedding gift from one of her great-great-greats to his new bride.

They must have been 5'6", max. My feet stick out beyond the footboard a good 6 inches.

When we make the bed, I just don't tuck the sheets in on my side.

Do you suppose that all those fairy tales about giants were inspired by time travelers...?

Now, when I imagine Russell, I'm going to see his feet sticking out the end of a bed. Maybe add a sleeping cap.

Some wives demand their husbands sleep with their feet sticking out the window.

If I recall correctly, the 1988 movie version of Dickens' "Little Dorrit" depicted the tiny stature of the British people in the mid-1800s and the tiny London doorways and claustrophobic low ceilings.

But the hats and bonnets were out-sized.

It was almost like an urban Hobbitown in the West Farthing end of the Shire.

Folks in the UK are not as friendly as folks in the US, France, Spain or Italy. Not bad, generally, but more reserved.

They are also frequently more difficult to understand if they have strong regional accents.

The food is ok, not great and especially not great compared to France or Italy when spending the same amount of money at roughly the same class of establishment.

Rural and semi-rural roads are much scarier than France, on a par with Italy. In Spain, I can only speak for Majorca--great roads.

People throughout England seem chunkier than Continentals, not as heavy as Americans, with worse dentition. That is not just urban legend.

Fluoridated water supplies by country:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluoridation_by_country

Only 10% of England's population receives fluoridated water as opposed to much, much higher levels of treated water in the U.S.

English dentition is worse, but their precious bodily fluids remain largely pristine.

Folks in the UK are not as friendly as folks in the US, France, Spain or Italy. Not bad, generally, but more reserved.

Maybe the guy that wrote the FB piece was originally from New England.

In comparison to that baseline, the folks in the UK might have seemed like long-lost cousins.

They are also frequently more difficult to understand if they have strong regional accents.

You should hear what they said about you!

Rural and semi-rural roads are much scarier than France

When my wife and I were in the south of France last year, I found the roads to be great, however they do not have the concept of shoulders.

Instead of shoulders, they have ditches.

Heads up!!

At least in the California that I grew up in, ditches rather than shoulders was the norm.

But that's because the weather isn't in the information that we usually get.

I spent a week in the UK, strictly in London, in the early spring of 1999. There was highly unusual heat wave occurring at the time, so the typical day was in the 70s (Fahrenheit!) and it was sunny for a good bit of it. I have a completely skewed mental image of British weather because of that.

Even the week I spent on the western coast of Ireland in the late summer of 2001, it rained really hard for half of one day, there was another day that was cloudy, windy and a bit raw, and the rest of the time it was perfectly sunny and warm.

The more I think about it, the more I think everyone is just lying about the weather in the British Isles. I was there, man!

McKinney,

Using Palma as a guide is a lousy way of judging Spain. But I can say that the police in Palma are very abiding.

they don't really do shoulders in NC, either. at least not like they do in NY.

i quit cycling because there's no place to ride down here except in the lane with the cars and trucks. screw that.

The food is ok, not great and especially not great compared to France or Italy when spending the same amount of money at roughly the same class of establishment.

I spent some time in a dorm there, and the food was superior to dorm food at UVA. Someone I know well is living in London now, and trying to eat on the cheap. He says that a lot of healthy food is available for those on a budget. Not fancy, but fresh and delicious.

Did not meet the police. Probably a good thing.

It was sunny and mild today in Seattle. Temps. in low 60's.

Been that way pretty much all month after the heat wave in September (av. highs in the 70's, and less than 1" of rain).

Global warming is ruining the place.

much scarier than France...

It's a couple of centuries since France was last scary at all...

Couple of things missed: the near absence of stick shift cars in the US (which we call manual), and similarly the near absence of the US-ubiquitous corn syrup additive in processed foods over here.

It would be tough for a successful politician to be a self professed atheist in the US; an over effusive profession of religious faith in the UK would be considered mildly embarrassing.

Oh, and it's perfectly possible to get a decent coffee these days - even in the most provincial backwater.

Black people are just people: they didn't quite do slavery here

Let's be clear, we (British) did slavery like champions in the Caribbean. Although we did abolish it 30 years before the US, and didn't have to fight a war over it.

There were very few black people in Britain in 1945. Then they deliberately imported thousands of people from the Caribbean to do unskilled labour, because there was a shortage and it kept wages down. Those people found it extremely difficult to rent housing and were intermittently victims of serious violence. I was born in 1951 and I well remember pubs with signs on the door: "No dogs, Blacks or Irish."

In most places black British people are now fairly integrated into the general community, although racist attacks on black people still happen from time to time. British Asians ("Asian" in Britain means Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan) however are not, and they are the main targets of racism these days. If you look at relations between black and white people you could come away with the impression that British society is not very racist; look at prevailing attitudes towards the Asian community and you see something very different. And very ugly.

Speaking of British Asians, my biggest regret about my London trip is that I hadn't yet discovered Indian food as one of my favorite things to eat. I could have eaten every meal in a different Indian restaurant while I was there, and they probably would have all been better than most of the Indian restaurants I've eaten in in the US. Dammit!

British Asians ("Asian" in Britain means Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan) however are not (integrated)...

I think that's something of an overgeneralisation, and a bit inaccurate.
While it's true to say that there are Asian communities which are to some extent ghettoised, and chris is quite correct to identify ugly attitudes, there is no one 'Asian community' in the UK, and the degree of integration ranges from total to negligible - as does the degree of prejudice from the white British population.

"Nearly everyone is better educated then we are."

Lol :)

"Nearly everyone..."

You can fool some of the people all of the time:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11948378/British-trainee-bankers-at-JP-Morgan-sacked-after-cheating-at-basic-maths-test.html

We have a national sport to which more people listen to on the radio than watch on TV.
http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/jul/14/the-spin-tms-test-cricket-addict

(I strongly suspect that's not the case in the US.)

"Fanny" is a naughty word, as is "shag"

Whereas "fag" isn't; it's a cigarette.

Also, I believe "twat" is rather more impolite in the US than here, where it's a pretty mild insult.

And, if visiting the UK, refrain from telling people they have a lot of "spunk"; it means something quite different...

They eat with their forks upside down...

That's just so wrong. And a manifestation of our superior motor skills.

Also, I believe "twat" is rather more impolite in the US than here,

from what i gather from UK slang "c*nt" is tolerable. but in the US, it's almost completely taboo. i don't think i've ever heard it in any movie or standup comedy. if it wasn't for that one Police song ("Rehumanize Yourself") i'd include music, too.

of course, they were a UK band, so...

what i gather from UK slang "c*nt" is tolerable

No, it's exceedingly impolite, in polite company.

Though far from unknown in popular culture since at least the 1970s:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_and_Clive

Impolite, but it has nothing like the status it has in the US, where it's the rough sexism equivalent of the n-word, an intensely misogynistic insult almost exclusively aimed at women.

It has a similar status in the UK; though we're probably just more relaxed about such things in recent years.

In any event, the ever useful Wikipedia points out that usage varies in the US:
"According to research into American usage carried out in 2013 and 2014 by forensic linguist Jack Grieve of Aston University and others, including researchers from the University of South Carolina, based on a corpus of nearly 9 billion words in geotagged tweets, the word was most frequently used in New England and was least frequently used in the south-eastern states.[54][55] In Maine it was the most frequently used "cuss word" after "asshole"..."

Go Maine.

Don't forget the slight different meaning of 'suspenders'. I hear many do not get the lumberjack song in that respect (what's the problem of a man wearing suspenders?).

We have a national sport to which more people listen to on the radio than watch on TV.

Well more people watch our national sport (baseball) on TV. But it is better suited to the radio. Not least because, on the radio, you can move around doing something else, and just stop occasionally to listen when something happens.

When I was in college, I used the time between something happening to work on engineering problem sets. Do a problem, listen for a few moments because something is happening, do another problem, listen again.... The timing was almost perfect.

""According to research into American usage carried out in 2013 and 2014 by forensic linguist Jack Grieve of Aston University and others, including researchers from the University of South Carolina, based on a corpus of nearly 9 billion words in geotagged tweets, the word was most frequently used in New England and was least frequently used in the south-eastern states.[54][55] In Maine it was the most frequently used "cuss word" after "asshole"...""

Maybe they were just saying 'can't' but were misunderstood.

it's probably one guy in Bangor with a parody account who tweets " is a c*nt" all day long.

and then Maine's other Twitter user is like "hey, keep it down over there. you're blowing our stats!"

that was supposed to be...

"<randomeName> is a c*nt"

I think that the frequency of using the words "bugger" and "fook" differs as well.

think that the frequency of using the words "bugger" and "fook" differs as well...

Between Maine and Louisiana ?
Kent and Aberdeenshire ?
My workplace and the local grammar school ?

Or all of the above (in which case, I'm sure you're right) ?

Or indeed any permutation of the above...

Well more people watch our national sport (baseball) on TV. But it is better suited to the radio.

Indeed it is. I listened to a lot of baseball in my youth, and loved it.

A little later I listened while driving, for reasons long forgotten, around the countryside. You could pick up the Cardinals, intermittently, on KMOX wherever you were. A hot summer night, a car without A/C, and the vendors in the background yelling "Cold beer here" could make you want a beer more than anything in the world.

The game was made for radio.

In the early history of radio, a radio station would have someone at a ballgame describing the action over the phone to the announcer back at the station who would give the play-by-play with in studio produced sound effects.

Since we're talking about swearing, one aspect that stunned me was the frequent use of swear words by people of almost all educational levels and class backgrounds - it feels almost like Tourette's Syndrome and it comes unexpectedly out of the mouths of talented and high status and otherwise perfectly nice people.

Above is referring to the UK

Funny, I would have said that about the US.

oh I haven't been to the US for ages, I was comparing with etiquette in other European countries - maybe it's an Anglo-Saxon thing

Which utopia do you live in then, novakant ?
:-)

One of the many joys of my children growing up was our being able to swear in front of each other, when occasion demands, as adults.

Conversely, I still engage in a kind of linguistic code switching with my parents, in front of whom I don't swear.

"...I love the French language...Fantastic language. Especially to curse with...It's like wiping your arse with silk." —The Merovingian - The Matrix Reloaded

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