Report from the mother country.

Things you may not know about traveling to England:

  • Despite all the signage alerting you to the fact that Logan Airport Terminal E is the place to go for American international arrivals, American international departures are still in Terminal B. Do not make this mistake when you are already running at least a half an hour late due to unfortunate timing arriving at the Central Square T station moments after the inbound train has departed, as well as having to wait for the new Silver Line airport service: handy, convenient, but not a hell of a lot faster.
  • They haven’t yet started forcing you to pay for crappy airline food on international flights. This is a good thing when you are arriving at the gate as your flight is boarding, haven’t eaten a thing all morning, are totally exhausted already, and have no time to hit the Dunkie’s before security.
  • Air conditioning: not so common! This is a huge problem when, in line for “passport control” (why is there a @ where the ” should be, huh?!), there are several planeloads full of people, all sweating profusely.
  • Some toilets have two buttons: a full flush and a half flush. I think it’s pretty clear what this is for.
  • Everything is smaller: cars, roads, appliances (oh, especially appliances), water heaters (this is amazing!), hallways (narrower), doorknobs (placed higher, seemingly all turning in the wrong direction (see below). This is one of a collection of things creating a general, underlying very-similar-but-not-quite-right sense of unease, that ever-so-slight unfamiliarity that keeps reminding you that things are just a tad bit off.
  • Some things are backwards. The doorknob thing (above) is unexpected; the road thing is expected but still unnerving: you know about it, of course, but then you forget and are surprised when you arrive to see everyone sitting behind the wheel on the right hand side of the car driving on the left hand side of the road. This is another big part of the underlying strangeness of things.
  • You become very, very self-conscious — of your bearing, your accent, your behavior, &c. — and are constantly afraid you are making a fool out of yourself and your country. Face it: you probably are, and there’s probably nothing you can do about it except continue to be super polite.
  • The weather (so far, anyway) isn’t nearly as crappy as you’ve been led to believe. Not a humid or hot as Boston in the summer. Nice. Almost perfect, really. (Watch it pour tomorrow.)
  • The coffee is as bad as you remember.
  • Contrary to what the man himself seems to believe, no one here has any clue who Johnny Damon is. This is for the best.
  • Keyboard layout: confusingly different! Just ever so slightly, though. See malaise (above).
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10 thoughts on “Report from the mother country.

  1. Hey Amrys,
    where are you in England?.. You can reach me at the above email address.
    Philip

  2. don’t forget the language differences! there’s the ones you probably already knew (like how they use “chips” to refer to fries) and the ones you might not know already (how did they decide to call the hood of a car the “bonnet”?)
    and re weather: I can only speak for london. I didn’t see the sun once during a week in spring. the smog was so dense that it felt like the sky ended just above the buildings. I kept thinking I was in the movie “The Truman Show” and the whole city was a pretend city encapsulated under a bubble somewhere.

  3. don’t forget the language differences! there’s the ones you probably already knew (like how they use “chips” to refer to fries) and the ones you might not know already (how did they decide to call the hood of a car the “bonnet”?)
    and re weather: I can only speak for london. I didn’t see the sun once during a week in spring. the smog was so dense that it felt like the sky ended just above the buildings. I kept thinking I was in the movie “The Truman Show” and the whole city was a pretend city encapsulated under a bubble somewhere.

  4. don’t forget the language differences! there’s the ones you probably already knew (like how they use “chips” to refer to fries) and the ones you might not know already (how did they decide to call the hood of a car the “bonnet”?)
    and re weather: I can only speak for london. I didn’t see the sun once during a week in spring. the smog was so dense that it felt like the sky ended just above the buildings. I kept thinking I was in the movie “The Truman Show” and the whole city was a pretend city encapsulated under a bubble somewhere.

  5. Johnny did say that probably 75% of the world knows who he is, so maybe part of that “other” 25% is the UK. Although I must say, this doesn’t bode well for the accuracy of his statistics.
    I’d like to see how my wicked pissa boston accent would go over in London. Haven’t made it over there yet.

  6. Maybe you become very self-conscious.
    And I think the grey that Jesse was referring to was just overcast rather than smog. I don’t remember seeing smog in any of my trips to London.
    My last trip to London felt fairly normal—with South Africa parents and the associated cultural simularities between British and South African culture, much of these things seemed pretty normal.
    The German keyboards are way worse, by the way! the y – z switch! (and numerous other things.) Worse yet was coming back to America after a few months there and typing incorrectly on a normal keyboard. My goodness!@

  7. Hey Phil! Got your email and replied. Nice to hear from you.
    Jesse: Yeah, we’re currently having some serious comment spam issues and devl.org is totally hosed. I will be upgrading my MT installation when I get back so as to make Mar (and myself, and my readers) a bit happier. In terms of the weather, I’m really lucking out. It’s perfect.
    Pip: Did you read that article about Tito in the Globe on Tuesday like I mentioned? [expletives] hi-larious.
    GD: The friend with whom I am staying over here is also from greater Boston, and has been asked by his (British) housemates to do a Boston accent. He doesn’t really have one (save for on random words, like “drawer”), despite the fact that his parents (and even his siblings a bit I think) have pretty thick Boston accents. Apparently he wasn’t able to do the accent justice when he tried, so perhaps you’d be a hit over here. =)
    In terms of JD, well, it was Jeff who actually told me about the article (which somehow I’d missed). We had a good laugh over it, though I’m sure the other people at the cafe had no idea what we were on about. We passed by a dude in a Sox cap today, but he paid no heed to our “Go Sox!” call. Sigh.
    Bischoff: Why do I always forget about your South Africa thing? It’s so awesome.
    OK, Jeff is giving me a hard time about using his compy. Ta!

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