Today’s vocabulary: Thursday 5 April 2007

5 Apr

Buckingham Palace

Originally uploaded by commamommas.

Baggage reclaim: baggage claim
sorry: excuse me, pardon
sorry: I’m sorry, I’d like to get by, I’m British, etc.
Gof: “Goth” from someone with a thick accent

George Bernard Shaw was right, the Americans and British are two cultures divided by a common language. Coming through Luton, I realized that it’s easy to get confused when you think of British and American English as the same language. You let down your guard a bit because you think it will be easy. But then you realize that the reason it feels like you’re walking right through a crowd is because you are. British people walk to the left on sidewalks, in queues, etc. Even the escaltors are switched around (the one arriving is on the right, the one departing is on the left).

On the train, I eavesdropped on a group of four people talking about one guy’s daughter’s fascination with My Chemical Romance, her recent adoption of “gof” clothing, and, of course, football (soccer). It’s nice to be able to understand people again.

Wednesday night, my friends Brian and Liz took me to the Chiswick Arms (Chesterfield Arms? Something arms), a very traditional British pub in Notting Hill with a very traditional Thai restaurant in the back. There are more cultural juxtapositions like that here than I might have thought. But the Brits are so easygoing, I suppose it makes sense.

Liz got the No. 16 there, which confused me because it’s the No. 17 at King of Thai. The other thing I liked about the place is that all the dishes were numbered, but they weren’t listed in anything resembling numerical order.

Carter and her scooter

Originally uploaded by commamommas.

Today, Prentice’s friend Carter met me for lunch, then took me on a scooter ride around the city. It was perfect. A gorgeous, sunny day (the weather’s been AMAZING here), and a great way to see sights that I want to see, but don’t really want to spend a lot of time seeing.

We went to Hyde Park and saw the Diana memorial, a cool installation with water flowing like a river through it. People were wading in the stream, which varies in width as it moves along and has what looks like plastic perforated plates at various points to give the flowing water different sounds.

From there, past Harrod’s, Buckingham Palace, to Big Ben and Parliament (Carter said that Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the tower, not the clock), past 10 Downing St. (the prime minister’s residence, made famous in “Love, Actually” starring Hugh Grant), past MI-5 (home to real-life James Bonds), past the Battersea Power Plant (where a Pink Floyd cover was shot), and back home to Notting Hill. It was great, and helped me get the lay of London.

At a red light, one Brit on a motorcycle commented to us that he was impressed to see two girls on a scooter, compared MPG (or whatever the metric equivalent is), and offered Carter some friendly advice on helmets. Those Brits. They’re nice.

Tonight we’re going to a place called Trailer Happiness on Portobello for Brian’s birthday dinner.


One Response to “Today’s vocabulary: Thursday 5 April 2007”

  1. Liz April 15, 2007 at 7:17 pm #

    So, did you meet any cute guys on this trip? There must have been at least one. . . .

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