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?”

 

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carwash thinking

 

 

 

 

 

“Tower” of London

So I put it in quotes because, well, it doesn’t “tower” very high.

First time I saw it I was like, oh, that’s it?  There had been such a build up: “Oh, the Tower of London, you gotta go to the Tower of London.” “There are great tours at the Tower of London.” “Anne Boleyn was executed at Tower of London.” “Gotta see the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.” Yadda yada yada. Tower of London, Tower of London, Tower of London.

I don’t know what I was expecting but it didn’t seem like much of a tower. It’s not a tower that towers, if you get my drift. (Wow, haven’t used that expression in years.)

I mean, it’s just not that big. Like, not that tall. Compared to other stuff around. Look: 

See what I mean? That so-called “Walkie Talkie” building that’s pretty far away is taller than the Tower that’s in the darn foreground.

So, looking at it now, no it’s not much of a tower compared to the other buildings in London. Then I got to talking to a tour guide (the Beefeater guys at the Tower are hilarious! Check them out on youtube) and he explained: it might not seem very tall now, BUT when William the Conqueror built it in the 11th century it was like an alien space ship that had landed.

People were just living in wooden shacks and this monster of a structure erupts from the ground. His motivation was to intimidate people (they didn’t call him “Conqueror” for nothing!) and boy, did he! Imagine you’re living in a wooden shack and that space ship rocks up? I mean, that IS a bit intimidating. Well, ok, that’s not what rocked up, the Tower did, but it’s still pretty scary. Look:

It’s been used as a royal palace, the crown jewels are stored there, there’s an armory, it’s been used as a mint, an observatory. Yadda, yadda, yadda. But did you know it had been used as an impromptu zoo? 

Ok, so in the 11th century, there was some monarch in Finland — maybe it was Norway — yea it was Norway — ok so this Norweigan king wants to give our King a present. Now what do you give to a guy who’s got everything? (Same problem people have trying to find a gift for Dad at Christmas.) The Norwegian king dude gives our king dude a POLAR BEAR. Yes, a polar bear. Google it if you don’t believe me.

See, even Perry is pondering.

 

Well, what the hell do you do with a polar bear in London? Yep, you put it in the Tower. But it was so expensive to feed the creature that they started letting him out daily (chained up) to catch his own fish in the Thames. And people miles away would delight in watching it. There are still pubs called the White Bear– that’s where the name comes from.

There’s also been lots of lions, leopards and even an elephant. Always gifts from other monarchs. One of the Louie’s in France (Louie the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth – i dunno, how the heck do people keep them straight?) gave our king a creature that the Brits had never seen before; it had a very long snout, was huge, no fur, grey. Like I said, an elephant. But they had no concept, “elephant.” So it must have been a very “wow” kind of moment. But, get this: the French told the Brits that the only thing the creature should drink is WINE!!! (perhaps the inspiration for this)

This is “Whimsical Elephant Tabletop Wine Bottle Holder – By Hilarious Home” avail from Amazon for $39.99. Doesn’t ship to the UK. Sorry, peeps.

Oh, by the way regarding the guy that originally built the Tower of London,  “William the Conqueror”: remember, these names are after the fact. It’s not like Bill’s mom went into labor, popped him out and said, “Oh this one ‘ere, e’s gonna be a CONQUEROR.”

Well, ok, so you can’t talk about the Tower without mentioning the beheadings. There were “only” seven. (If it were my head rolling, even one would be a lot.)  British school children learn the following ditty to recall what happened to each of the six wives of Henry the VIII.

Divorced, beheaded, died
Divorced, beheaded, survived.

So two of his wives — Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard — were beheaded at the Tower on trumped up charges of treason or whatever Henry could cook up. So let’s do the math: two wives out of six so… if you married Henry VIII, you had a one in three chance of losing your head over him. Not a bad king, but… terrible husband.

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PS. Me and the Beefeater tour guide guy. He wouldn’t accept a tip!

 

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.

4v81e865p5lx

 

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!

I Meet a Nice Family From Saudi Arabia

“There are 32 pods to represent the 32 boroughs of Greater London, up to 25 people to a pod and it takes 30 minutes to make a full rotation. They thought they’d keep it around only a few years but here we are 18 years later, and 10,000 people ride the London Eye every day. Last year, 4 million!” I was atop a double decker tour bus on a gorgeous sunny day, getting ready for the mini chaos that occurs at the Westminster Bridge stop, where lots of customers get on and off.

Down on the pavement, I see people waving. One of my colleagues, a ticket-seller, is with them. It’s a family, it seems. Mom, dad, two children. The mother is wearing a headscarf; it’s an Arab family. We get lots of Arab families on the busses. I look behind me to see who they are waving at — oh! they are waving at me! They are grinning so wide, they are so happy to see me and I have to squint to see their faces and I suddenly recognize the father. Once they see that I know who they are, they all start laughing and the little girl starts jumping up and down. I meet hundreds of people so it’s not easy and also I am very new in this job so it’s all been a bit overwhelming. So my memory of them is not precise but it is a tender one.

The dad is gesturing writing a note and pretending to give it to my colleague. He is trying to tell me something but I don’t understand at all and the bus is taking off and I need to handle the 20 or so people who have just gotten on so I smile and give a thumbs up.

I run into the ticket-seller colleague the next day and all becomes clear: the family had done a tour with me a couple of weeks ago and had been trying to track me down because they wanted to take me out to dinner to show their appreciation for whatever it was that I had done for them on the tour. Like I said, I meet hundreds of people and I just try to be as helpful as I can but no, I don’t remember details.

I get in touch with them and we arrange to meet outside the Covent Garden station. It turns out that I do remember them, especially when the mom, Maha, reminds me that her 7 year old daughter’s name is Latifah, “like Queen Latifah”. We had shared that joke on the bus. Latifah smiles and tosses back her head giggling, leaning onto her mother’s side. But it is her older brother, Hamad, that can speak some English and he states very proudly, “It is very nice to see you,” after which the children and parents get lost in fits of giggles. Apparently, he’d been practicing that sentence since we’d made plans to meet. The children’s skin is dark as mahogany as are their pupils so that the whites of their eyes and their teeth shine brightly. Smiling and so happy to seem me, they are beautiful. Abdul the dad, seems especially pleased that I have come — he is touched I have taken time to spend with them.

“Wherever you want to go, we go!” Says Addul.  I tell them I want meat because I live with vegans and never get to eat meat! They all laugh.

“Latifah is a vegetarian,” says Meha the mom. “But is no problem, there be things to eat for her.” (Although I do find out she does make an exception for hamburgers.)

Abdul tells me there’s an area of London where you can get all kinds of Arab food but he says they haven’t eaten there. “We are here for the experience, not to do what we know!”

The maitre de asks if they want a Halal menu as Maha is wearing a scarf. Abdul and Meha order from the Halal menu but the children do not. Hamad, is terribly excited to look at the menu and hold back not a bit! He’d like to order everything.  As side dishes, he orders garlic bread with cheese on top, and sweet potato fries. Upon learning that I also love sweet potato fries, Hamad gives me a fake serious nod of the head and a fist bump after which we both start to laugh.

Abdul insists that I order a bottle of wine and tells me he will drink a little (turns out very little)  and I can take whatever is left home. He encourages me to drink as much as I want. I’m fairly sure drinking is not allowed for Muslims and so it seems he’s going out of his way to be accommodating.

Right away Abdul starts telling me how important this trip has been especially for his children. “I want them to experience life. We are good people in Saudi Arabia. People want freedom. We are like other people. We want …” He searches for words… “… to be happy.”

Hamad takes over ordering for his father, saying to me with playful rolling eyes, “My father he don’t know what he wants but I do.” He orders rib-eye and barbecue sauce for both him and his dad.  “Hmm yum, I love barbecue sauce,” he rubs his belly and nods and smiles to indicate to me how much he cares for the stuff.

They are such a happy family, happy to tell each other things, share funny observations and just to laugh. While the others are trying each others’ food, Abdul says to me, “This is so nice that you came. For me it is important that the children meet good people from other countries. I don’t want my children to be .. ,” he gestures with the palms of  his hands on either side of his head. “Small minded?” I offer.

“Yes! In my country, we do still have this mentality, small.. small-minded.  We know only our country. But do not misunderstand, people want freedom so much! But…. they do not know how. But we want.”

For dessert we order practically everything on the menu. Hamad can’t wait for his Oreo Milkshake – although he agrees to share.  I say to Maha – “You know, I am full but dessert takes up a different part of the stomach.” She claps her hands and laughs and says, “Exactly! It is different!”

While we wait for dessert, Abdul wants to smoke so I accompany him outside and he is glad to have me alone. He seems desperate for me to understand so many things but he is struggling to communicate all that he would like to. “I have a very good job. I am an engineer. For my job, I must travel — Belgium, France, London, Rome. I meet people and I enjoy! I want my family to enjoy. I want them to know people are good. People are the same.”

He tells me that his company does engineering works for other countries, often to “help them”  he says. They recently did a project in Africa. I can’t follow all the details but from what I understand, his company does projects in underdeveloped areas and are directed to do so by the Saudi government.

I tell him that I’d been offered a job to teach in Saudi Arabia but it wasn’t as much money as they had offered in years past. In years past Saudi Arabia was known for paying up to 100,000 pounds a year for an English teacher.

“Saudi Arabia now give money to many country to help them. The United States tell them to do it and we do. We want to help but now we have less money than before but we are still ok.”

Back inside, we all share the desserts, giggling over how good everything is. The kids are in absolute heaven, it would seem.

Hamad excitedly tells me that tomorrow they are going to see the movie, The Incredibles. He has some difficulty with the pronunciation which makes us giggle. “At 5:30!” he adds, throwing his arms up the air.  He looks directly at his father and says, “At 5:30,” then does the same to his mom, apparently to make sure they remember. They shake their heads and smile telling me Hamad hasn’t stopped talking about it for days. I advise them to also see the show the Lion King – that it would be a great experience for them, not just for the children.

Walking back to the Covent Garden station, Hamad and Latifah are skipping and running ahead, pointing out and showing each other things in the shops and giggling, running back to mom telling her things and running off again. I note how free the children are, and how happy they all are and so kind to each other.

I guess I wanted to write this post because all I knew about Saudi Arabia was women aren’t allowed to drive, where it is on the map, and generally negative things. But like everywhere else, the most important bit about a place is the people. And spending time with this lovely family simply opened my eyes. That’s all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i went to the library today

i’ve always loved books. my folks would find me the next morning with a book on my face. i actually couldn’t put the book down. (i am not-so-silently protesting the over- and incorrect use of the word  “literally” although it really would be better in that sentence than “actually”.)

it didn’t even have to be books. just words.back of the milk carton at breakfast, dad’s paper (pops often went elsewhere to read, think it was his excuse to get some alone time) after he was done. watergate and all that. and ads for cars. not a lotta words that but something to keep my brain busy.

i won a 14 karat gold jade pendant awarded to me by my third grade teacher, Mrs. Uzzo, for reading over 50 books. (not sure why she gets capitals.) (and an underline.)

one time while getting ready for a family vacation, my mom asked me what i was going to do with all the books i was bringing. i said read them. reading ain’t big in my family except dad and the paper. and me.

i knew every aisle in my hometown library. the biographies were just a bit further down from history.there were some books that worked like landmarks when i was looking for something. there was one with a yellow jacket that signaled the end of the 817’s  – “american humor & satire in english”. i loved pulling out those long drawers from the card catalogue. some cards were typed and often had some cross outs; some were hand-written, usually swirly cursive script.some cards even in pencil. there was a whole system of organization on that 5×7 card – i mean lots besides last name  of the author then their first name and middle initial. the second line was year of publication. ok, well actually, the book’s title would be in there, too. i don’t remember the set up so just understand there was a set up.

it was really exciting when i graduated from the children’s library to adults’. my pink kids library card was coming apart. it was a special kind of cardboard-ish paper. happy to trade it in for the adult green library card. i had bad memories of the kids library. like when one of the  fat tough italian girls surrounded by her gumbah gum-chewing girlfriends made fun of me for picking my nose. (guess i got very into whatever book i was reading and forgot i was in public. i was 9.)

i went to the library today to forget about life for a while.i did.

but now i’m back.

i don’t mean to be elitist by reading so much. writing, too. always got lost doing that as well.i just like it. it doesn’t mean i think i’m better than you. then again, maybe it does. unconsciously.

now i gotta sleep.don’t wanna wake up with a laptop on my head.library-dewey-system-drawers

Word of the Year – Trumpery

showy-w-face

Showy But Useless

A couple of weeks ago, the word of the day from wordsmith.org was “trumpery.” It’s an actual word. Trumpery is an old-fashioned term that refers to something showy but useless. Huh. I suppose we could think of an example… Something showy… hmmm. Showy but useless. Gosh, I’m coming up empty – let’s see if the dictionary has an example. Oh, here’s one from vocabulary.com:  Your huge collection of salt and pepper shakers is nothing but trumpery. Oh, okay, I got one: Your huuuuuuuge collection of denials of groping is nothing but trumpery.

It is “possible” that The Donald even knows this word because he has made the bold claim: “I know words.” The full quote:

I’m telling you, I used to use the word “incompetent”. Now I just call them stupid. I went to an Ivy League school. I’m very highly educated. I know words, I have the best words…but there is no better word than stupid. Right?

Wrong. There are better words. Trumpery, for example.That’s a better word than stupid, hands down. Because in addition to showy and useless things, it can refer to showy and useless speech.  In fact, to really get the showiness and uselessness of this quote, i.e. to really get the trumpery of it all, let’s watch the video:

Of course, it’s true. This is an actual case of Trump NOT lying. He does know words.Every Trump sentence has words. Sometimes three words. Or two. And they’re great sentences. Terrific sentences. With repeated words. Terrific repeated words. Not very big words. But every Trump sentence has not very big repeated words. And let’s fact it, they are terrific words.

This orange man is pretty good at trumpery speech.He has said so many outlandish lies, ridiculous comments that it seems we’ve become insensitized to it.  I mean how much more nauseous than nauseous can you get? If you want to be reminded, here’s  one of many articles on the topic of outrageous things that Trump has said.

And…. the most remarkable thing, of course is that this creature might become President of the United States this coming Tuesday the 8th of November.