Saturday, February 6, 2016

Things British

DSC08588It’s a day for doing laundry and catching up with domestic work.  With a full suite of housemates, I needed to take my laundry out to be done, seeking a launderette (nee Laundromat for the Americans).  They are a bit competitive, people jostling for machines and trying to shame people who just bring their drying and mess up everyone else’s sequence.  Fortunately, there is an attendant who keeps everything ordered and moving along.  IMG_20160116_093044A few pounds, a couple of hours, and I’m out.

It’s about a day at the house: I have to find the washer free in the morning, and check that the drying rack isn’t filled with towels and motorcycle gear.  Things need to sit in the airing cupboard overnight to dry, a thoroughly British closet where the hot water heaters create a warm dry space for finishing laundry.

And so it goes, every day, in so many ways, to be reminded of how things are different, are British.  It is in the (to American eyes) quaint architecture along my street, a brick facade in Parkstone, a coffee shop in Ashley Cross.

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It’s in getting aspirin in blister packs instead of bottles, making sweet drinks out of squashes rather than syrups, and backing my car into parking spots instead of nosing it in.  I keep a bag of change in the car and go light on emotive words.  I’ve grown accustomed to having a raffle drawing after DSC09809 (1300x887)village social gatherings. Every restaurant enjoys a perfect Food Hygiene Rating. 

I understand humor that is either subtly ironic or coarsely dress-up, and can riposte when need arises.  I’ve learned answering ‘You okay?’, as a greeting instead of a concern, with a purse of the lips and ‘Yeah’ with a nod and a slight upward inflection to sow doubt.  (I prefer sowing doubt using the Yankee-style replies 1) ‘Swell, you?’, 2) Hangin’ in!, 3) ‘Never better…’, which all confuse others.)

I may be just about ready to convert my ILR to a passport (another £2000, but then done, right?).

DSC08756 (1266x1300)I bought a toaster the other week, and inside was a half-off coupon for Virgin Wines.  I took a look online and found that a selection of 12 luxury red wines cost around £6 per bottle, less than it costs for plonk at Tesco.  So I placed an order, and was rewarded with a big red box a few days later.

This has turned out to be a mixed blessing.  First, my housemates are now wondering why I am having wine delivered by the case.  The box dominates a corner of my room, raising questions even if unopened.

Then there is the moral hazard of having 122 bottles of wine in the corner of the room.  After a hard day and thirsty on return from exercise, the fruity dry varietals call out to me.  There’s not the usual friction of having to go to Tesco to spend money: they are just sitting there, going bad if I don’t drink them.

Finally, there is the quality.  I think that they are better than the sharp / sweet reds that  are usually on sale, but nowhere near the buttery / heady selection offered by local wine critics.  The I discovered that Virgin is putting a #25 / mo charge on my Amex, a subscription that needs to be drained and cancelled.

I had toyed with the idea of joining The Wine Society while I was in Cambridge: it looks like good value and better bottles, so I’ll likely switch, months from now when I’ve drained the Virgin stash.

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