Tag Archives: travel

I Am So Angry

Grrr. I have just sent a stiff email to the Stagecoach Bus Company, here in Manchester. Brandon had to catch a bus this morning and used his week-long “Easyrider” ticket. He had a valid Travel I.D. card and a valid ticket, both of which were kept in a Travelshop holder. Neither was damaged, or tampered with. Brandon was clean, tidy, sober and polite…

The driver wouldn’t let him on.

Why? Apparently the driver could tell that his ticket was “fake”. Even though it had been issued on a bus, was sealed in plastic and had all the appropriate marks and dates. He looked once, didn’t hold it himself, didn’t take it out (or ask Brandon to take it out) of the wallet. He said it was fake and asked Brandon to leave the bus, then repeated himself when Brandon held the ticket up for further perusal.

Is it any wonder that teenagers get rude with people these days? No WAY would the driver have treated me like that. And WHY did he think the ticket was FAKE? We shall never know, because he wouldn’t explain, or discuss it. It isn’t even Bran’s normal bus route, so it isn’t like he has been messing about with kids on the school bus (in the past) and made an enemy of one of the drivers. Brandon is a good kid anyway.

I hate petty little Hitlers, who get one tiny bit of power and then go crazy. I hate adults who treat all teenagers as though they were criminals. And I hate ANYONE who is mean to one of my kids… Especially BRANDON.

I feel sorry for anyone else who crosses me, or mine, today!

10 Things I Think I Know About Canadians and Canada

As you all know, I am England’s biggest expert on Americans and America. I am. So isn’t it strange that I’m virtually clueless about Canada? This, to me, would indicate that Canadians need to try harder with promoting their country. In order to demonstrate to them how much harder they need to try, I am going to list ten things I know about Canadians and Canada, off the top of my head. I won’t Google, I won’t cheat in any way… Let’s go:

1) Canadians sell chocolate at the airport. I know this because we stopped at a Canadian airport once (for an hour) on the way to America – and I bought some chocolate.

2) Canadians have guns. But unlike Americans they never shoot anyone.

3) Canadians never lock their doors. I think I’m getting these ideas from Michael Moore.

4) Canadians like Ice Hockey. So do I! But here in the UK, that makes me a freak.

5) Alanis Morissette is Canadian. She probably thinks that is somehow “ironic”.

6) It snows in Canada. But that’s OK, because Canadians are prepared for snow. I feel guilty because this list is making Canadians sound a bit boring. I’m sure they are just “differently interesting” really.

7) Canadians usually have a moose head on the wall. See? Not boring.

8) Canadians say “aboot”. But other than that they just sound like Americans with the volume turned down.

9) Canadians eat “poutine”. I have no idea what it is though. I’m not going to Google it, I’ve come this far without cheating. Most national dishes are famous for more than just the name! Why don’t I know what this is?

10) Canadians want to be British (yay!) or French (boo!). Basically they’re happy to be seen as anything other than American. Or Canadian.

And that’s just aboot all I know aboot Canada and Canadians. Oh wait, I know Mounties “always get their man”. Whatever.

CANADIANS: I’ve met some of you and I love you but MAKE YOUR DAMN MARK! Don’t let America leave you to play the part that New Zealand plays, to the mouthy Australians. Don’t be the same as Belgium is, compared to France. Let’s take the “O” out of “O Canada” and replace it with a “Hell YEAH!”.

For Americans: 40 Random Facts About The UK

1) People in the UK drink tea with milk.

2) When British people say “biscuits”, they are talking about what Americans call “cookies”.

3) Most British people under the age of 25 wouldn’t  recognise Benny Hill, if they were shown a picture.

4) London is not the only city in the UK.

5) “Pea-Soupers” and other forms of heavy London smog, were ended by the Clean Air Act of 1956.

6) Jack the Rippper is now presumed to be dead.

7) Princess Diana is definitely dead.

8) British people come in a wide range of ethnicities.

9) “Hogwarts” is not a real school.

10) If you ask for a packet of “rubbers” in the UK, you will get a packet of “erasers”.

11) Not everybody in the UK has met the Queen.

12) Beer is served at room temperature, in British “pubs”.

13) “Are You Being Served?” hasn’t been shown on British TV (apart from as a novelty) since 1985.

14) Cats, in the UK, are normally allowed outside.

15) Jesus is not as popular in the UK as He is in the USA.

16) It is impossible for an American to successfully imitate the Cockney accent.

17) Levi jeans are popular in the UK and are available in many shops.

18) British policemen are also known as “Bobbies”, “Coppers”, “Dibbles”, “The Sweeney” and (among criminals) “The Filth”.

19) “Pissed” in the UK means “drunk”.

20) Illegitimacy is more popular in the UK than it is in the USA.

21) Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel were both born in England. Johnny Depp wasn’t.

22) Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character.

23) Most Brits are bemused by the idea of “flossing”.

24) The British national dish is called “Curry”.

25) Despite rumours to the contrary, British people measure their journeys in Miles.

26) Some buildings in the UK were erected more than 200 years ago.

27) Most women in the UK would regard being called a “bitch” as a compliment.

28) British people correctly insert the letter U into many words.

29) Being softly spoken is regarded as “normal” in Britain.

30) The word “Soccer” is regarded with suspicion by Brits, who prefer to use the proper name for Football.

31) British people love to queue and businesses happily respond to that, by not providing enough check-outs, or Customer Service desks. Or Ladies toilets.

32) Brits use the word “Toilets” as if it wasn’t offensive – even though they could say “Rest Rooms”, or “Bathrooms”.

33) Tony Blair is no longer the British Prime Minister.

34) “Tipping” is a very unpopular concept in the UK and should be done rarely and begrudgingly, at no more than 10%.

35) The Underground is a complex railway system, running through tunnels, under London. Remember to mind the gap.

36) Brits tend to regard “Doctor Who” as being aimed at children.

37) Big Ben is not the name of the giant clock in London but the name of the bell inside it.

38) In the UK, “chips” are chunky batons of potato fried in oil – not thin slices of cooked potato (we call those “crisps”).

39) Buckingham Palace is much bigger in your head than it is in Real Life.

40) Kindly people in the UK will always give you directions but only if you learn to pronounce place names properly.

American/Cockney Translations

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I am always keen to facilitate the idea of Americans visiting the UK. I like Americans, they’re really funny. Sadly, most Americans become confused when they visit the UK, because they don’t understand the language. They think they can speak and understand “English” but when they arrive in London (as they inevitably do) they discover that the locals do not sound like Mike Myers, or Johnny Depp, or even Daphne out of Frasier. In London, the locals speak “Cockney”. So here are a few useful Cockney phrases, for Americans visiting our shores. You’re welcome.

“Hello” (said to a man):Alright mate? How’s it hangin’?”

“Hello” (said to a woman): “Cheer up darlin’ it might never ‘appen!”

“Please direct me to a bar”:Where’s the nearest boozer mate?”

“How much does that cost?”:What’s the damage on that?”

“Where are the rest rooms?”: “Any bogs in ‘ere? I’m breakin’ me neck!”

“You’ve been very helpful” (said to a man): You’re a diamond geezer mate.”
“You’ve been very helpful” (said to a woman):Fanks darlin’ you’re a top bird.”

“I would like to try some authentic British food”:I could murder a curry.”

“I would like a cup of tea”:Stick the kettle on, I’m dyin’ for a cuppa.”

“I think you are mistaken”:  “You’re talkin’ bollocks.”

“Are you joking?”:You’re pullin’ my plonker, ain’cha?”

“I’m very surprised”:I don’t Adam and Eve it!”

“I am exhausted”:I’m cream crackered.”

“I am travelling alone”:I’m on me Jack.”

“Would you like to have sex with me?”:Fancy a shag?”

“I’m sorry, I do not find you attractive”:You’ve got a boat race like a bag of spanners.”

A basic list of useful phrases there but if my public demands it, I may do some more at a later date. Don’t be too shy to ask me for translations in Comments either, I live to serve.

English Food

A few years ago an American friend of mine decided to visit the UK. He was really looking forward to his trip but one thing worried him – the prospect of trying to survive on English food. It seems that we English (and Brits generally) have a bad reputation, when it comes to the culinary arts. Below is a perfectly formed scale model of the conversation I had with him (on IM) about his visit, and the food he might be eating: 

 American Friend: I really want to eat traditional English food when I’m in England but I’m nervous about that, because you guys have a reputation for serving up some real crap. I’ve been looking at a website with a list of the best English foods.They’re listed in alphabetical order. I’m looking at B…What is Bread and Butter Pudding?

Me: Oh, it’s lovely! And a good way to use up stale bread! It’s like buttered bread, sultanas and sugar, all covered in an eggy type of custard and baked in the oven. Mmmm.

American Friend: STALE bread? WTF? In America we don’t eat stale food. We throw that shit out.

Me: Well, not ROTTEN bread, just dry, you know?

American Friend: Not rotten? Oh great. Yeah. I have to say, you’re not tempting me here….OK, what’s Bread Pudding?

Me:That’s delicious! My Mother used to make it when I was a kid. That’s a mixture of bread, spices, dried fruit and sugar. It’s baked again but it is firmer and cut into squares, like cake. It, um, it’s a good way to use up dry bread, again…

American Friend:WTF? In America we have a good way to use up dry bread…We call them DUCKS. Do you have ducks in England? Throw them the dry bread and stop using it in f*cking “puddings”! Jesus Christ. Here, try this…What is Black Pudding made with? That sounds hardcore.

Me: That’s savoury, it’s a sliced sausage, you fry it with bacon and eggs.

American Friend: You call a sausage a “pudding”? What kind of meat is that made of? Badger?

Me: No. Well, it’s not exactly MEAT as such anyway…It’s made with….Blood.

American Friend: Holy f*ck.

Me: Hahahaha! Stop it! It’s very nice.

American Friend: I feel sick. Black, fried blood. And that’s a GOOD meal in your country? Like, it’s something you BOAST about on websites? I hardly dare ask what Bubble and Squeak is…

Me: Oh god that’s YUMMY. It’s like Hash Browns but made with a lot of different vegetables and fried!

American Friend: Different? There isn’t one recipe?

Me: Well…It depends what cooked veg you’ve got left over from Sunday lunch…

American Friend: LEFTOVERS? Again? Listen to me…THE WAR IS OVER! Seriously, you can buy new food now!

Me: Hahaha! You’re not going to come here, are you?

American Friend: I might. BUT I’M BRINGING MY OWN FOOD.

Guide For Americans Visiting The UK

Blogmella’s Survival Guide For Americans Visiting The UK.

1) Start every complaint with the words “I’m really sorry”. This isn’t America, no one gives a SH*T if you are happy with the service or not. Our employees don’t have group hugs, pep talks, brainwashing sessions or sticker-charts to encourage them to be nice to the customers. On the plus side, very few of them expect much in the way of tips. If something goes wrong, like your dinner is cold or your toilet doesn’t flush… You need to say something like, “I’m really sorry but I think my dinner might be a bit too cold to eat”, or “I’m really sorry, I might not be pushing the handle properly, because I’m American and we have different toilets there, but the toilet in my room doesn’t seem to flush”. That way you might get some help. Trying to be “assertive”, shouting about your “rights” or demanding “service” will get you sneered at and your food spat in. BTW, this doesn’t just apply to Americans, this applies to EVERYONE, even Brits. This isn’t prejudice, it’s the way we DO things.

2) Look very carefully before you cross the road on foot. Drivers here do not slow down a bit and wave at you to cross (like they did for me in Seattle and Florida)…They speed up and sometimes even SWERVE here, in order to hit you. No driver in London will cut you ANY slack at all. Even if you have a walking-stick. Also, you’ll be confused because we drive on the CORRECT side of the road.

3) To be polite to OUR standards, try to say “Thank you” at least six times during any purchase.
The shop-keeper says “Can I help you?”
You hand him the item you wish to purchase and say “Thank you”.
He asks if you are paying cash, “Oh, yes, thank you”.
He hands you your change and you say “Thank you”.
He asks if you want the item in a bag, you say “Yes, thank you”.
He hands you the bagged item and you say “Thank you”.
You start to leave and he says “Bye!” ………To which you reply, “Bye! Thank you!”.

4) When you order, or ask for anything, say “Please” I was stunned in America that people ask for things and don’t say “Please” every time. It will help you to glean what little service you CAN get in London if you at least TRY to ask politely. I know some areas in America say “Please” more than others, because I’ve written about this before, but I’m telling the people who don’t, OK?

5) Don’t make a fuss. If a British person saw an elephant walking along the path towards them they would say “Oh look, an elephant…There must be a circus near here, or something.” Americans would go, “OH. MY. GOD. LOOK! LOOK! AN ELEPHANT!!! ISN’T HE ADORABLE?! GET MY CAMERA!! IS IT REAL?! AREN’T THEY FROM AFRICA?! DO THEY HAVE THOSE HERE?! MAYBE IT’S WILD…THEY HAVE HEDGEHOGS!!! etc. etc.” That’s really annoying to the British.

6) Don’t tell everybody you meet what you think of them within the first 10 minutes. British people don’t want to know how they are perceived, even if it is good news. Americans have a habit of saying “Oh my, you’re funny!”, or “You two make an ADORABLE couple!” or “Hey, you know what? You’re really clever!”, which makes us SQUIRM. Keep it to yourself, until you’ve known us for ages and until we are at least a bit DRUNK.

7) Practice drinking warm beer and eating small portions of food. You know it makes sense. And practice paying twice as much for it. I’d love to change the whole of the UK for you but it might be easier for you to lower your standards and then halve the result. That will be what you’re served.

8) Learn to say AND more often. “Go AND get”, “Go AND buy”, “Go AND eat”…I LOVE the American accent but leaving out all the ANDS is just annoying.

9) Turn the volume down. On your voice.

10) Feel the love. Brits are sarcastic, dry and often insult people, just to show them how much they like them. Before you get all offended, try grinning first and see if the British person laughs with you. They probably will. If not, feel free to create a scene, it’s not like you’ll get shot or anything (we don’t have guns).