Now that I’ve got my ‘sun King’ here in England with me, it seemed appropriate to visit the ‘Sun Hotel’ in Hitchin for morning coffee, one day last week. Life is still new and exciting for Larry as he gets to grips with our culture, food and weather. Funnily enough, with a few exceptions, the weather has indeed been sunny ever since he got here. We know it won’t last, don’t we, fellow Britains!
Here are his thoughts at the end of his second week in England, which he now calls ‘Planet Zzogg.
‘My Second Week on “Planet Zzogg” (England) – Learning Quickly.
Although I sometimes feel as if I am living on another planet (Zzogg) where Darwin’s evolutionary process has produced unfamiliar results, some things are becoming a bit more familiar now. For example I’ve become used to the Tsunami that occurs when you flush the toilet here. Seems like about two gallons compared to the stingy flushes I’m accustomed to in America. Also the water level is a bit shallow in America – here it’s more like looking into a black hole surrounded by porcelain. Gives one a sense of finality, which I’m beginning to like actually.
Other observations this past week include:
• Buses are the way to get around town over here. The front of the bus even lower’s itself (hydraulically) at each bus stop to welcome passengers aboard. Can’t help but be impressed by transportation that genuflects with respect for the elderly and the disabled.
• Driving a car in the UK is something I will likely never attempt. I have developed the greatest respect for the natives who successfully negotiate the narrow streets with cars parked half in the driving lanes on both sides. Taking turns isn’t reserved for intersections – checkers on a checkerboard and cars in England seem to move in much the same manner.
• We have three cats here, one of which is most definitely uninvited. Each gets their breakfast at a different time, so as to avoid all but the occasional skirmish. The uninvited one stays outside and gets fed only so it will go on it’s merry way, allowing the other two cats to go out into the garden in the morning to do whatever cats do in an English garden in the morning.
• Our American cat has so far managed to deal with the language differences much better than I have. My most recent discovery is that the word “What” doesn’t have a “T” on the end. In England it’s pronounced “Wha!”. To appreciate this you have to imagine that there is a valve in your throat that suddenly slams shut, instantly stopping the airflow from your lungs after the first three letters. Takes a bit of practice….
• Car seats for three-year-olds (grandchildren) require three hands to secure the child in the seat. There is one strap that goes between the legs, into which you connect the two straps coming over the child’s shoulders. Problem is that each of these three must arrive at the connection point simultaneously and in the correct configuration. No two can be connected without the third. Add a squirming three-year-old and the frustration is complete!
• In my brief exposure to English summertime weather, what is called rain here is what Americans call drizzle. What Americans call rain is rare here and only lasts a short while. What Americans call a downpour (AKA, “toad strangler”, “gully washer”, or “trash mover”) is apparently a rare occurrence in the UK, although I have seen reports of flooding in parts of the country. I find being “caught out in the rain” here to be a delightful experience indeed!
• Package delivery here seems a bit more unpredictable than in American. I have grown accustomed in past years to being able to track delivery of a package via UPS, FedEx or the US Postal system, right down to the explicit date of actual delivery. Things are similar here except you may receive your package on August 8 in spite of receiving an email from the shipper that clearly announces delivery on August 12. I like surprises so no harm done!
• One more thing here that reminds me of the “good ole days” – hanging the freshly washed laundry outside on a clothesline to dry. It’s the thing to do here and the clothes smell wonderful.
I’m getting used to things on “Planet Zzogg” and liking it more and more every day. The question I get most often is “How long are you here for?” My answer: Forever! Scatter my ashes in the Thames – that will suit me just fine. ‘