Piccadilly is Such a Cute British Word. (Question: Does it actually mean something?) (Answer: Yes.)

picc Cannabis-Shakespeare2

“High” collars, innit?

 

Piccadilly Circus. We’ve all heard of it — the London (much smaller) version of Times Square. But where does the word “piccadilly” come from?

When I was an English teacher in Rome, it was all about eliciting the answer from the student. So I’ll try to elicit the answer from you.

Is it:

  1. A stiff collar
  2. A small armadillo that “pecks”, called a peccadillo
  3. Someone who “picks” their nose
  4. A sort of cake or turnover
  5. A “peaked” hill (geography term)

 

Ok, here’s ANOTHER hint:

piccadill

 

Still think (or hope) it’s someone who picks their nose? OK, final hint:

picc with word in it

 

Yes, it’s one of those ruffled collars that were so impractical as to be indicative of class. Wearing one meant that you didn’t work with your hands (imagine trying to load up a ship with one of those things on! Or just pick up a box! Or even just have soup!). It also meant that you had servants to do all sorts of things including washing and starching these frilly chokers. Maintaining them was a lot of work; hundreds (hundreds!) of pins were needed for the ruff’s elaborate pattern. It’s fair to say then that wearing one also indicated that you “generally had more money than sense.”

There was a merchant named Robert Baker who in the 1600s made lots and lots and lots of money on this medieval fashion statement and so when he built a very ostentatious house, it was derisively nicknamed “Piccadilly.” Thus the street and circus were named.

Maybe one day, there’ll be a High-Heel Lane or Ripped Jeans Corner or I’m-With-Stupid-Teeshirt Avenue. Maybe even Piazza Socks with Crocs.

picc sub-buzz-18059-1495140757-19

 

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Hardcore

When I first moved to uk, being the cheapskate I am, I used websites where people want to offer stuff for free that they don’t need anymore. Websites like Freecyle and Freegle.

I remember the first time I saw an ad for “hardcore”. They were giving it away! And I thought, “Those quirky Brits! They’re supposedly so uptight and yet they are just letting the entire world know they’ve finished ‘reading’ their porn magazines and want TO GIVE THEM AWAY!” Then again, I thought, why should they discard two large black bags of the stuff when someone else might want it?  Who am I to judge? Two bags though. But you never know what’s going on with people. Lost his wife? Got fired? Horny bastard? None of my business.

Then i saw this ad:

And I was like… what? TEN BAGS? Jesus Christ!! What the fuck kind of country have I moved to? Then the telephone rang or I got hungry or the pope died and I got distracted and forgot all about it.

Then, later that week:

TWENTY????? WITH MORE TO FUCKING FOLLOW???? What the hell is going on? Is this like a porn sect? What the fuck with these people? Are you fucking kidding me?

Then the telephone rang or I got hungry or the pope died and I got distracted and forgot all about it.

A few weeks later, I saw the following and the the clouds cleared and I saw the goddamn “hardcore” flipping light:

“Hardcore” in this mothereffing drive-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road country can also mean RUBBLE.

As the Brits would say FOR FUCKS SAKE!

 

 

 

Everything’s a Roundabout

Note to reader. I don’t know how to put footnotes in so I used * and ** and ***. Footnotes at end of post.

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While studying for my driving theory test, I noticed that there’s lots of material about the darn roundabouts.* This is a very roundabout-oriented country.

Then I started to notice that in general Brits like round things. They love that London Eye thing. Lots of buildings in London are round.

“round building london” google search

And they go crazy over doughnuts.**

No hole brit donut

The busses have rounded edges, so do the taxis.

And because they drink a lot of beer, a number of British people have round bellies.

And of course they prefer the “s” to the “z”, i.e. organise not organize. Why? Because the “s” is rounder. They don’t like sharp corners. A “z” has not one, but TWO sharp corners.

Speaking of corners, even the streets tend to round. In London, that last bit of Regent Street heading into Piccadilly Circus is called The Quadrant because it’s like the quadrant of a circle, i.e. rounded. And there are so many streets that are “crescents”, i.e. in the shape of a crescent. I.e. round! Even the River Thames is curvy for crying out loud. These people like round stuff, folks, I’m telling ya.

And of course, there’s Spotted Dick Pudding.***  Not Striped or Paisley Dick Pudding. And I’ll tell you why: because SPOTS ARE ROUND.

They’ll go “roundabout” in their speaking, as well, if it’s necessary to criticise or even just make a request. They’ll get lots of extra words in there to soften the blow. They wouldn’t simply say “Move over” or even “Could you move over” but “Would you mind terribly just moving over .. just a bit? If that’s alright…?”

Even the floor of a building: they say it’s on the fifth storey of a building, rather than fifth story. They throw that “e” in there to delay getting to the “y”. (Ok, so maybe that’s going too far.)

So, why is there still a monarch in this modern country? Because it’s the Crown and a crown is ROUND.

 

HOWEVER, my sister came to visit and she found quite the exception in the hotel’s WC:

 

 

Footnotes:

*Getting your license here is a big deal. Lots of conversations about it, people spend lots of money of driving lesson.  Growing up in the states, everyone I knew was taught by their dad. We’d argue a lot but I learned to drive. Maybe American’s have a higher tolerance for arguments.

**But I think it’s weird that they don’t put a hole in the middle of their doughnut. I mean, isn’t the hole what makes it a doughnut?

***Yes, that really is the name of a dessert here.

The Steak is So Nice

happy steak

 

If you ask a Brit if they are enjoying their meal, they might say:

“Oh it’s lovely!”

Hmm. Lovely?

Food is “lovely”? Really? Is it wearing a pink bow?

Or they might say it’s “delightful”. Huh. Did the pudding tell a good story?

Or even, “nice”. Did the ribeye pick itself off the plate and open the door for you?

Well, then, my hamburger was a bit awkward. It didn’t want to come out from the bun.

sn,210x230-pad,210x230,f8f8f8.lite-1u3

And my spaghetti was furious! It threw itself right against the wall and refused to come down. And when it did, well, see for yourself:

spaghetti boxer

upsetti spaghetti

Ok, I am being a bit naughty — a bit “cheeky”! (I do love that Brit word.)

As an American, those words — nice, lovely, delightful – are words we use to describe a friend, a colleague or even someone we are pretending to like, but NOT what’s sitting in a dish in front of us.

I’m not saying American English is better than British England. (I mean, it is, but that’s NOT what I am SAYING.) But some things just make me giggle. It’s like, Brits are so nice, they’re even nice to their food. And to be honest, it makes me like them even more.

— Miss T signing off

 

 

 

 

PS. Similarly with the expression “hire a car”, another Brit anthropomorphism. (Fancy word, I know.) To an American that sounds like you are employing someone,  “Excuse me Mr Fiat, are you available Tuesday next?”

 

***

 

carwash thinking

 

 

 

 

 

You Know You’re Becoming British When…

1.You not only start queuing for the bus, but you know how to spell it. (queue, not bus, smarty pants.)

_39306883_commutelong

 

2. Even if you have only one square inch of dirt, you want to make a garden.

2.a (corollary to the above) The term allotment starts to make more sense than the American community garden.

Flipping brits – even have a MUSEUM about it.

 

and:

3.You stop obsessing about the weak chins. They’re everywhere.

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Ps. Weak chins not just reserved for Brits:

mitch-mcconnell-09081-1

Mitch McConnel: weak brain, weak character and yes, weak chin. Whole lotta chin going on.

 

This will be added to in future posts!

Hashtag Be More Hamy

I want to tell you about my friend, Hamy.

That’s not her real name. Protect the innocent, all that crap. So Hamy… how do I describe. She KILLS ME. She is amazing and outrageous and nutty in the best possible way.

This is  what she did today:

WhatsApp Image 2018-07-23 at 15.44.04

I mean how many people do you know that would sit in a large seagull on a sweltering hot day in London on the South Bank near Tower Bridge? Not many.

Hamy has spunk and a belief that the good things will just happen. “Flow,” she calls it. I have to admit I go a bit cock-eyed* when she talks about energy flow and giving in to it and various “hippie” like concepts. But she KILLS me. I’ll be in the middle of a stressful moment and Hamy will send me a photo of an owl because she knows I love owls. (We both do.) Or she’ll call me up and say, “I had to skin a rabbit today, would it be ok if I keep it in your freezer?” (The answer was Yes, of course.)

I would even go so far as to say that Hamy is “awesome” except that I hate that f#cking word so let’s just say IF I used the word awesome, then I would say Hamy is awesome. (Except I DON’T use that f#cking word. And except, of course, I just did.)

And why am I writing this? Because I had a crap day, feeling sorry for myself, feeling bad about myself, job stress, why-don’t-I-have-a-boyfriend-I’m-all-alone blah blah blah blah and then Hamy sent me that fantastic photo and I walked down the street laughing out loud. And it was a reminder that I am other people’s Hamy’s. The nutty friend that brings a smile to your face.

I write this in the hope of being your Hamy today.

And let’s “pay it forward”: be an Hamy to someone. Send a silly message, make a cheeky comment to a stranger, have fun living life and let others see you doing it.

Thanks, Hamy!

* I admit I am not sure that is the correct use of the word “cock-eyed” but Hamy sat and chatted with people from the inside of a wooden seagull so I do what the f#ck I want.

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BONUS CONTENT: (i forgot I made this video of Hamy and The Seagull). Please watch then do poll. I think it’s like 44 seconds. Or 10. I can’t remember. Ok, I checked: 39.

US vs. UK vs. Italy: Some Brilliant Observations that I Have Made

I’ve lived in the States, Italy and now the UK. Here are some brilliant-if-I-say-so-myself-I-hope-you-understand-this-is-tongue-in-cheeky observations and comparisons:

Men
UK: Football and beer
US: Football and beer
Italy: Football and mamma

Good-lookingness
US: Quite the range
UK: That damn weak chin
Italy: The fuckers are all drop- dead gorgeous

Fashion style
US: Outside of NY and parts of California, no.
UK: No
Italy: It’s not simply that outfits match. Whatever is put on is simply perfect.

Driving
UK: Safely but on the wrong side of the road. (Editors note: The writer is American. Also, I am the writer.)
US: 55mph national speed limit.
Italy: Drive your mopeds on sidewalks if you need to.

Locks on doors
Uk: Clever the way the doors lock – pulling the handle up to get that deadbolt through the door
Italy: Those ridiculously long keys.
US: Who needs locks. We have guns.

very long keys

What to do at a stop sign
US:You stop.
UK: You stop
Italy: What stop sign? Who needs to stop? They can stop.

Food
There is no comparison. You haven’t eaten a tomato until you’ve had one in Italy.

Heath and safety
US: As long as it doesn’t cost money
Italy: Yea, yea, whatever.
UK: A national obsession.

Work ethic
UK / UK: Similar.
Italy: Work ethic? That’s hilarious. Sit down and have a cornetto and cappuccino. They’ll open the office eventually.

Public tranport
UK: Good and expensive as feck
US: Good, expensive in cities.
Italy: Public transport? Thats hilarious! Sit down and have a pizza. The bus will come eventually.

Socks
UK: If you live here long enough you WILL start wearing mismatched socks. It’s a law &/or DNA issue apparently.
Italy: Perfect in color, texture etc. Always.
US: Whatever. Can always buy more at Costco.

The currency
US: Green
UK: The queen
Italy: Bring back the lira!

angry old lady

“Bring back the lira! And the King!”

What students call the teacher
UK: Miss
Italy: Professore
USA: Yo!

The aged
UK: Taken care of
Italy: Revered
US: Fuck ‘em

Politeness
UK: At risk of death
US: If it doesn’t cost me anything, sure.
Italy: Why should I be the one to be polite?! They can be polite, no?

Sunglasses; specifically, how to wear them
US and UK: Like normal people do
Italy: On the back of your head.

back-of-head-sunglasses-guy

How Italian men wear sunglasses,

Overused word
US: awesome
UK: literally
Italy: cazzo

Pronunciation of “th” as in “thing”
US: thing
Italy: ting
UK: fing

Queues
UK: Yes, it’s true, we queue even at bus stops.
US: What the hell’s a queue? You mean, wait in line? Well, if we gotta.
Italy: Queue at the buffet table until the food arrives; then it’s every man for himself.

Smoking
US: Looked down upon
UK: People will roll eyes
Italy: They envy Third World countries with loose laws.

Career goal
Italy: Job for life as an “employee” or just live with mamma and pappa.
US: Work hard, play hard, become an alcoholic
UK: Become an alcoholic regardless.

Streets
US: Big
UK: Not so big.
Italy: This, they resolved. Small fucking cars.

Underground transport system:
US: The subway in NYC has 472 stations.
UK: London Tube 270.
Italy: In Rome, there were 2 lines, A and B for about 50 years. They intersect in one spot. Now there a third line, interestingly called Line C. Now the system intersects at TWO of the 73 stations. Wow – not.

Coffee
US: Sit down and enjoy.
UK: Have a cuppa! (Or would you rather a tea?)
Italy: Take your time ordering say, an espresso – no, let’s actually, let’s make it macchiato– just a touch of milk like almost none – oh, and let’s make it stretto so it’s really strong, and please please PLEASE make it a vetro; I must drink my coffee in a tiny glass cup. Then measure the precise amount sugar in and stir up to 45 turns.

Have I missed anything? Let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking Tits

Bit redundant, no? Aren't all tits great?

Bit redundant, no? Aren’t all tits great?

Here in England, people are into their gardens and birds! It’s not that I’ve never been into birds, it’s just that there are so many. I find it a bit overwhelming. So let’s just talk about tits. Gonna use Wikipedia to learn about tits.

According to Wikipedia, “tits can be found in most of Europe, Asia, North America and Africa.” No tits in Australia or Greenland? What’s their definition of tits, I wonder. Are they calling them something else if they’re too small? Ok, let’s move on.

Wiki adds, “Tits are generally insectivores that consume a wide range of small insects and other invertebrates, particularly small defoliating caterpillars.” Tits eat insects! Who knew!  So it’s not just men that the quickest way is through the stomache! Science is fascinating.

“Tits have a variety of methods for attracting mates, primarily through their intricate, bouncing mating dance,” the article goes on to say. So tits bounce to attract attention. That isn’t entirely surprising. They are pretty lively.

According to Wikipedia: “Many African tit species are cooperative breeders.” Seems to me that all tits cooperate with breeding.

One last interesting bit about tits: “Only the blue tit is typically polygynous: all other species are generally monogamous.”

Slut

Slut

I live to learn and I think I speak for you all.

p.s. needed a bit of silly outrageous fun today, what with writing/sending academic cv’s all week. job hunting is a blast — so not!

 

 

 

 

On Hippies, Hoops and Happiness

hula-hooping

In keeping with my this year’s mantra (see previous post), “Take Care of Your (effing) Self” I signed up for a hula hoop class. Or, a-hem, for those of us “in the know”, Hoop class.

You cannot imagine how much fun it is. Or what damn exercise. I do feel a six-pack a-coming! Well,let’s not exaggerate. Maybe one can.

And it is SO NOT just about swinging that colourful circle of plastic around your middle. Oh no, my friends. There are tricks galore. None of which I can truly yet do, still working on swinging that colourful circle of plastic around my middle. However, check out Edo from Cyprus:

I met Edo at a drop-in circus tricks practice (hoop, poi, swords, tight-rope!!). I was happy just keeping my colourful circle of plastic swinging somewhere around my middle and there’s this blue-haired hippie with matching blue sweatshirt so to start a conversation I said, “So do you change the color of you hair everytime you change your top?” He gave me a shy smile and could barely look me in the eye.

He’s from Cyrpus and moved to Brighton one week before.

“I was the only person on the island who hooped.”

How did he learn?

“Youtube!!”

Brighton has a very established, “hooping community.” (OMIGOD I LOVE LIVING SOMEWHERE THAT HAS ANY FLIPPING KIND OF HOOPING COMMUNITY!!!!). So I asked him if that was why he moved to Brighton:

“Well,” the blue-haired 60s Cypriot throwback responded, “that’s one of the reasons.”

Then there’s Nick. He is one of the organisers of CircusSeen and he oversees these Friday evening open practices (what do YOU do on friday night???). Check him out in the video below! I have never even seen those little do-dads that he’s playing with!! They’re called something like Figure Eight Whatchamacallits. Ok so I don’t remember the name. But when you see them. you ain’t gonna forget them!

These colorful characters with their piercings and hanging pants and dreadlocks and tie-dyes were so kind and sweet and HAPPY.

And that’s what I needed… Hippies, Hoops and Happiness.