Friday, 7 August 2015

7QT 14: My British Things

I've been away for a month in the UK, and the new semester is looming, so here's a super-quick Seven Quick Takes. Having lived in the US (mostly Mississippi) for twenty years, I often feel an outsider in both countries. On the plus, I *think* I'm better able to see the good and not-so-good in each culture. Here's some shallow light-hearted examples of British Things I'm always grateful to get back to...

1. Yay for outlets where you turn off the power at the socket. It used to terrify me to have to pull plugs out of a live socket when I first moved to the US. Of course, having lived away for so long, sometimes I forget to switch it on and come back hours later to find my phone etc. hasn't charged.

 BUT... regulations are so strict, you are forbidden to have either an
electrical socket or a light switch in the bathroom (you have to have a pull switch or a regular switch outside the door - good for throwing your enemies/siblings into darkness at crucial bathroom moments).



2. The national impetus to recycle. In Mississippi, we live outside town and have to drag our recyclables up to work where we (illegally? I'm not asking) use the campus bins.

 BUT... the bins, the bins! My parents only have three: general recycling, food waste, and unrecyclables. My aunt in London has five. All have to be properly sorted for the dustmen (refuse collectors) or you get to face the wrath of the local council My parents' local council was even talking of putting microchips in the bins, I suppose so one can instantly report recycling offenders or the rubbish 'swingers' who are bin-swapping.

Once upon a time, there was a family of bins...

3. Water conservation: small sinks and baths, plus one bathroom, encourage you to be less profligate with water.

BUT.. as Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum pointed out, low-flow toilets don't get the job done. And they're mighty embarrassing if you're a guest and can't find the toilet brush.

4. Talking of number three: One bathroom per house. I'm disappointed that more people in the UK are getting extra bathrooms and toilets put in their houses (and I'm not even starting on the second kitchen trend among the more wealthy/show-offs in debt). I hate having to clean more than one bathroom. Our family of four managed with one when I was growing up, and it made us keep a lot of our bathroom clutter out of the bathrooms and in our bedrooms. Disclaimer: the toilet was in a (teeny tiny) separate room from the sink and bath, which avoided having to cross your legs if someone was having a leisurely soak.

BUT... see disclaimer above.

5. The National Health Service. It has its problems, but you can't beat it for everyday care. My elder daughter had to go for a check up after getting mild appendicitis in Italy (that's another saga). She saw the doctor that day - no fuss, no co-pay, no insurance so complicated even the doctor's office don't know what to bill you, no unnecessary weighing, temperature check etc., no being lured into the doctor's consultation room to wait for an hour until he pops in.

BUT... she was a little freaked out at the instructions in the waiting room on how to use her ten-minute consultation (actually he took 30 minutes with her).  And getting good hospital care is a lottery.

6. A curry house in every city, town and village (almost). Plus the obligatory After Eight mint at the end of the meal. Bonus points for 70s decor, 'exotic' Indian art and Bollywood music. At one point, chicken tikka was Britain's No. 1 favourite dish.

BUT... there's no but. I heart heart heart my Anglo-Indian food.

7. And the reason for the title? In case American readers felt I wasn't fair enough, here's a tongue-in-cheek song about our favourite 'British' Things via Queen Victoria and Horrible Histories. For some reason, I could only find it with Portuguese subtitles, which adds to the irony...

For more Seven Quick Takes, visit Kelly, who hosts at This Ain't the Lyceum - she has a special and inspiring post for Spinal Muscular Atrophy awareness week.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a huge British Comedy (on PBS) fan, I really enjoyed your blog - Thank you!