Sunday, September 28, 2008

Summer Impressions of The UK

Well, dear readers, I seem to have been tardy in writing again. This is primarily the result of having moved from Sunny Florida to a small village called Hockley Heath in England. This is a rather pleasant hamlet, consisting of two pubs, a canal, a butcher's and a couple of newsagents. In addition, there is a rather large emporium selling every conceivable light fitting known to mankind, and then some. The latter is staffed by some rather unpleasant people. Little wonder that they are always on the prowl for someone willing to devote some of their valuable 40 hours a week for the princely sum of £6 (nearly $12 in the US) an hour, which I believe is (or close to) the minimum wage for the UK. Saturday working is mandatory, by the way. On a recent visit to buy strip-lighting for the kitchen here (why are kitchens always dark where I choose to live? - Methinks another subject to ponder). I was unpleasantly greeted by some youth, who was garnished with what seemed like 10 pounds of metal in his face and his tongue. This made it difficult to understand what he was saying - his accent was enough to make most people leave the store. This reminds me that Rik does a good Brummie accent. I have been amazed at how many variations of said Brummie accents there are. But, I digress.
I find that the locals are not quite hostile, but distinctly unfriendly. This is in stark contrast to Florida, where you are always greeted with a hearty 'How you doing' wherever you go. Here, if I greet the checkout person at a supermarket in such a manner, security guards descend..... Usually they are rejects from the light fitting store.
However, all is not lost. The weather can be relied upon to elicit a conversation. I have managed to sit out in the sun for four days this summer. Sure, the sun has shone more frequently, but this was the only time when I felt it was warm enough (over 75) to venture out without a T-Shirt. Due to the lack of sunshine this year, and an abundance of rain, people will stand and discuss the weather for what seems hours on end. Eat your heart out Michael Fish. Oh, and for those that understand Celsius, 75 in old money is about 24 in Celsius. I never understood why the Brits chose to adopt this silly measurement which is so inaccurate. I said about 24. In Celsius, that is 75.2 F, but if you choose 23, that is 73.4. What a difference a degree can make.... Let's not go with metric. Another edict by the beaurocrats in Brussels to make us more 'European'. The Americans manage very well with feet, inches and Fahrenheit, so why should the Brits have been subjected to such a change? Who won the war after all?
On a final note, I made a brave attempt to grow tomatoes. The first examples should have been ready by mid-July, but duly arrived in September. Just in time for a visit to Canada and Florida..... More on that in my next exciting episode.