What it’s REALLY like across the pond

I haven’t posted anything for a long time.  Seriously, it’s been over a month!

I’m sure you’re [not] wondering why this is; well….life has been pretty ‘samey’ recently and there hasn’t been anything that has amused or pissed me off in a while.

Over a month actually.

Anyway, the other day I was asked a question that stunned me into silence so much that it inspired me to write this post.  The question I was asked was:

“Is Christmas day in the UK the same as it is in the US?”

I paused for a moment, blinked a few times, and then gave a polite and sensible reply.

Oh, wait, no I didn’t.

I was sarcastic, condescending and there was a lot of finger pointing and laughing. I won’t lie….I was a bit of a cunt about it.

But honestly, who thinks Christmas is on a different day in the UK!?

Anyway, this got me thinking about all the questions and conversations I’ve been in that highlight the misconceptions Americans have about the UK and Europe in general. I have already touched on some of these before, but they just won’t go away….like syphilis or any of the Kardashians1.

So, without further ado:

We all drink Tea in the UK

Actually….no.

Granted, tea IS a big deal in the UK but there are a lot of Brits that don’t like it, opting instead for coffee. We like to call those people ‘traitors’ or ‘weird’. In addition, Americans also don’t realise that we generally drink tea with milk.

“Oh. My. GAWD!  With milk??”

Yes, with milk.

They go on and on (and fucking on) about how much we drink tea in Britain, but have absolutely NO idea about the tea we actually drink.  I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve been asked what flavour tea I drink.

“Fruit?”  No.

“Green?”  Still no.

“Camomile?”2  Nope.

“Earl Grey?”  Erm, some people do.

“So what do y’all drink then?”

Proper (black) tea…in a mug….with milk and sugar; very few people use the clichéd dainty little cup and saucer with the obligatory pinky finger sticking out.  Take note

America, a proper mug – sometimes with a crack in it – is the ONLY way to drink tea.

Oooh, I do fancy a cuppa right now.

Geographically confusing delights

English Muffins

In America they have ‘English Muffins’ which, aside from McDonalds, I have never seen in the UK ever.

Yes, I know the flag isn’t the English flag. More on that below….

Yet I get told that we all eat them in England because, well, it has England in the name.  It’s either English muffins or ‘tea and crumpets’.  Sorry to tell you this America, but we don’t all eat crumpets all the time with our tea.  If anything, it would be tea and toast.

Mmmm, tea and hot buttered toast….with either Marmite or a nice bitter marmalade.

But tea and crumpets?  Rarely.

Additionally, whilst I’m on the subject of geographically named sweet treats, they also have something over here called:

German Chocolate Cake

I’ve been to Germany several times and never seen this cake.  Do you want to know why?  Hmm?  Do you?  Well, here is what I found on Wikipedia:

‘German chocolate cake, originally German’s chocolate cake, is a layered chocolate cake from the United States filled and topped with a coconut-pecan frosting. It owes its name to an English-American chocolate maker named Samuel German’

Interesting….considering I’ve been told, categorically, that it DOES come from Germany and I “don’t know what i’m talking about”, so it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy that:

a) I’m right, and

b) The people who told me that bullshit, read my blog.

Read it bitches…..read it all!

French Fries

I don’t even want to get started on this one.  Let’s just move on shall we?

French Toast

Nope.  Never seen that in France ANYWHERE.  Toast in France is usually thin and NOT packed to the gills with sugar, butter and death.

Italian Wedding Soup. 

Yep, apparently that’s a thing here too.  I’m half Italian and I’ve been to real Italian weddings and I have NEVER seen this soup. How can this be? 

Oh hello Wikipedia!

Wedding soup or Italian wedding soup is an Italian-American soup consisting of green vegetables and meat. It is popular in the United States, where it is a staple in many Italian restaurants.

Honestly, I’m not sure why this is a) Italian and b) for weddings.  It’s a lovely soup, but at the end of the day it’s still a soup….and soup can be messy.  Adding any type of sloshy food to people in their smartest attire, and one big white dress, is a recipe for disaster (thinly stretched pun intended).

Belgian Waffles

Now THIS one is actually accurate.  This style of waffle IS Belgian; I’ve been to Belgium a lot and they’re exactly the same as the American ones.  Only, this time, the Americans just call them ‘Waffles’; no ‘Belgian’ in there whatsoever.  The ONE time it’s actually correct to name a food after a country and they don’t do it!

I despair, I really do.

(takes a moment to compose himself)

OK…moving on….

Paris is romantic

No it’s not.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but it really isn’t. It’s grey, grimy, crap and in French.

It’s basically London with less friendly people…trust me!  The Hollywood held perception is that Paris is all cobble streets and baguettes, with accordion music faintly heard on the breeze, when in reality it’s a bustling city with the sound of constant droning traffic.

Oh, and it smells like toilet.  Not ‘Eau Du Toilette’…….an actual toilet.

Yes, it has the Eiffel Tower and yes the architecture is old and beautiful and it has museums and bridges and stuff, but that’s the case all over Europe.  Paris isn’t special in that respect.  Paris is, for want of a better word, a shithole.

Sorry France.3

London is all cobble streets and fog

I’ve touched on this before, but I’ve been asked this more than a handful of times.  Look at the description of Paris above and you’ve basically got London.  It’s pretty much the same, but not in French.  This is useful for understanding what’s being said about me by waiters and shop staff when I’m being overcharged for their lacklustre service.

The English all say things like ‘Tally ho’ , ‘Pip pip’ and ‘Guv’nor’

This is very true. Also, the French say “Sa·cré bleu!” a lot too, did you know that?

I’ve found that a lot of Americans say “Yee-Haw!!” and “Rootin’ Tootin’!!” all the time.

(rolls eyes until they hurt a bit)

British Food is terrible and bland

This is both wrong AND wrong.  In addition, it’s also wrong.

Firstly, it’s difficult to define ‘British food’ because Britain is actually made up of four countries/nations, each with their own foods and palettes.  I can’t speak for the other three countries, but I can speak for England.

Oh, did I mention that there is no understanding of the difference between England and Britain?  No?  Well, more of that in due course…

Anyway, back to the food.  There’s a belief that British food is bland and tasteless.  Ha ha ha ha WRONG!  Despite being a small(ish) island, Britain is located and influenced by all the European cuisine surrounding it, and it’s an international hub for commerce across the planet….so the food is AMAZING!  In fact there are more options and choices in the UK than I’ve found anywhere else, including the USA.

Aside from the traditional British foods like fish and chips, a full roast dinner, a proper ‘full English’ breakfast etc…we also have Indian, Italian, French, American (yes, we do burgers too), Greek, Turkish, Indian, Spanish, Japanese, African, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Polish, German, Blah, Blah, Blah……basically we have them ALL!

And yes, I meant to put ‘Indian’ in there more than once.  I LOVE Indian food and it has become the UK’s most favourite food!  Seriously, the national dish of the UK is Chicken tikka masala!

Mmmm, Chicken tikka masala….

And don’t even get me started on a good ol’ doner kebab!  It’s the most unhealthy and delicious food know to mankind.

Wait, no…that’s not right.  Let me try that again….

And don’t even get me started on a good ol’ doner kebab!  It’s the most unhealthy and delicious food know to drunk revellers outside the taxi rank after a night out on the piss.

No, it’s not a fucking ‘Gyro’

Now THAT’S British! (or Turkish actually)

America’s answer to post piss-up nosh?  McDonald’s.

Oh dear.

Europe is a country

Not only is this a belief (just like Africa), it’s surprising how many people I’ve spoken to who can’t point to Europe on a map, let alone the individual countries it consists of!

Besides, why bother learning about these countries when you can simply visit them at Epcot anyway?

(rolls eyes until they start bleeding slightly)

The UK, Great Britain and England are the same

I can understand why this is confusing, but even after I’ve explained it to one of my American friends, I can still see the lack of understanding behind their eyes.

Then again, it could be the huge doses of sugar and sodium in their diet.

(shrugs)

For clarity, here is a visual breakdown….

It’s like the United States, but with four states, not fifty.

Now, I’m sure this as clear as mud, but allow me to explain.

There are effectively four countries or ‘nations’ at play here.  England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.  The uncoloured area below Northern Ireland is, unsurprisingly, Southern Ireland (or ‘The Republic of Ireland’) and actually forms part of Europe.

Yes, they have Euros as currency.

Confused yet?

Well, the English occasionally refer to themselves as British, but the Scottish, Irish and Welsh don’t…..even though they are.  In the same way that people from Hawaii refuse to call themselves American…..even though they are.

So, when I’m told I have a British accent I do smile to myself as there is no such thing really….unless I include all four accents together:

“I say good sir, the laddie is just a wee bairn, to be sure, so it is boyo isn’t it?”

Hmmm….

And, whilst I’m on the subject of the the UK….here is how the Union Flag came to be:

This is why the flag in the muffin picture earlier was technically incorrect

We celebrate Thanksgiving and 4th July

I can’t begin to tell you how many times i’ve been asked if we celebrate these. Oh, wait….I already have!

And, for the record, we also have Hallowe’en4

However, we do not have the following holidays:

  • Labor Day (should be ‘Labour’, but hey, who am I to judge?)
  • Presidents Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Columbus Day

Take a moment and ask yourselves why this is.  If you can’t answer that question, feel free to ask me about it and see what kind of answer you get.

One of the UK holiday days I miss a lot is Boxing Day, which is the day after Christmas Day (still also the 25th December).  In the US a few have started calling it DAXMAS (Day After XMAS), but it’s not an official  holiday day and serves no purpose other than…well….it’s the day after Christmas.

For us Brits (all four nations), Boxing Day is another Christmas Day and I love it!

“Why is it called Boxing Day?”

Why thank you for stepping in Wikipedia!

All the presents. All the food. All the booze.

 

1 – It’s a reoccurring joke on here, but seriously….when are these harpies going to fuck off and leave us in peace?

2 – I have NO idea why the USA have added an ‘H’ to this word, considering the way they usually hack letters OUT of words.

3 – Not really.  I hate Paris.

4 – It actually originated in the UK!  You’re welcome.

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A queer insult.

Sometimes the difference in culture between the UK and the USA rears its ugly, and usually amusing, head. Today was one of those times.

At work we have some internal instant messaging software which is great for employees to communicate when they:

A) Can’t call.

B) Won’t call.

C) Have the social skills of a gibbon with its scrotum in a jar of fire ants.

As my department is like a central hub for any questions or issues from our call centre, we get a lot of instant messages to help out with all kinds of weird and wonderful situations.

Here is a conversation I literally just had:

Fran: Hi, I need some help

Me: Hey Fran, it’s Daniel, your favorite Brit 😉

Fran: Hey Daniel! How’s it going?

Me: Pretty good. Busy! So what’s up?

(For security reasons, this part of the conversation is omitted as it’s work related.  Needless to say, I fixed the problem like a boss!)

Me: Done!

Fran: Great! Thanks.

Me: No problem 😉

Fran: Have a great day!

Me: You have a great day too 🙂

Fran: Poof

Now, she meant to imply that she magically and dramatically vanished from the conversation in a puff of smoke, like a genie….or Batman.

To me she ended that conversation with ‘Faggot‘.

I laughed like a drain for at least a minute, solidly.

It was one of the funniest insults I’ve received since living in America, particularly because it was unintentional and from a person who wouldn’t even say boo to a goose (with or without their nuts in a jar of fire ants).

poof

This is also the word we use for an ‘Ottoman’. England is a weird place.

 

I thought this was the land of the Free? 

In the UK there are sales and specials in the shops this time of year.  One of these specials is a 2 for 1 offer known as ‘Buy One,  Get one Free‘,  or BOGOF

This is a little tongue in cheek because the term “Bog off” is a playful version of “Fuck off“. Reserved for your kids pre-moving out age. 

Then “Fuck off”  is perfectly acceptable. 

Anyway,  in America they have the same offer,  but it’s called BOGO.

So you ‘Buy One,  Get One‘.  Isn’t that just ‘Buy one‘? 

I mean,  if I  buy a car,  I get a car. That’s what buying something is…isn’t it? 

So why leave out the word’ Free‘?  It’s not like America doesn’t like that word.  

Well,  except maybe ‘sugar-free’ 

You are what you eat (and you’re full of shit)

Before moving to America, my wife told me how many chemicals and additives there were in American food.  It seems the USA doesn’t have the strict regulations that Europe has regarding the shit that companies can inject into what we eat and drink.

I had no idea to what extent she was not kidding!

I first noticed how much sugar there is in stuff over here.  It’s in everything, but to the Nth degree!  Bread has been the biggest surprise; if you open a bag of bread and smell the loaf [insert toilet gag1 here], it smells like cake.  And cakes here are so sweet they’ve surpassed the maximum sweetness possible by the laws of nature and have shifted into another dimension entirely.

But it doesn’t stop with sugar (ever!).  The adverts (commercials) here use the addition of unnecessary chemicals and additives to promote and sell their foods.

Ice-cream is advertised with “No Growth Hormones!“, burgers promoted as having “No hormones, antibiotics or steroids!” and even dairy products brag about their milk having “50% less sugar“, or cheese being “100% cheese, not 51%“.

51%?  Bit random.

Now, I know this is a scare tactic to make you question their competitors’ products, but was I delusional to assume these products wouldn’t contain this shit as standard?

“Hey! Try our new coffee, made with 100% coffee and absolutely no wood screws or powdered glass!”.

Mmm, delicious.

It’s on a level my wife could never have prepared me for.  Even salt here is packed full of additional ingredients and chemicals, the names of which baffle and terrify me in equal measures.  I mean, it’s salt!  Surely the ingredient of salt should be salt?  I understand the need for an anti-caking agent, but outside that….it should be just salt, right?  Or am I overthinking this?

This unnecessary use of additional ingredients reminded me of something my wife showed me back in England; it was the list of ingredients for McDonald’s french fries in the UK and the USA.  Check this out…

fries-uk-vs-usa

Potatoes, oil and salt.  What more do you need?

And it doesn’t stop there.  Check out this seasonal favourite!

latte-uk-vs-usa

Nothing in red can be good!

So let’s take a moment to digest (or not) that the US version of this beverage has ‘Caramel Color’ in it…twice.  This is an ingredient that has been considered carcinogenic by the Agency for Research on Cancer!

So….Fuck. That.

Now, I’m aware these images have been pulled from the internet and could be utter bullshit….but they’re not.

Or are they? 2

So here are a couple of photos I took of products I’ve seen at work that defy the laws of sense and responsibility.

Recognise these, America?

bottles

I drink a lot of coffee….and it says ‘mate’…what’s not to love?

They’re sat next to the coffee machine looking sweet and innocent (and boy are they sweet!).

They look like cream and they taste a bit like cream….but they’re NOT cream.  They are so far from cream, they might as well be a car.

The fact they’re not stored in the fridge should have alarm bells ringing in your head.  In fact, the word ‘cream’ doesn’t appear in the terrifying list of ingredients at all!

ingredients

Do you notice the first (and therefore largest) ingredient is sugar? It appears BEFORE water!

This shit doesn’t even have milk in it, although there is a milk derivative.

A derivative?  What’s a derivative?

Well, Google defines it as:

Adjective – (typically of an artist or work of art) imitative of the work of another person, and usually disapproved of for that reason.

Or

Noun – something that is based on another source.

So yeah, it means ‘something that resembles milk, but isn’t‘.  I suppose that’s why it ends with ‘Not a source of lactose‘.  That’s great for those who are lactose intolerant I suppose.  But in all honesty, lactose is probably less harmful to those people than the cocktail of sugar, water and oils in this easy-pump jizz.

Yes, it looks like jizz.  You’ve all thought it.

And it doesn’t stop there.  I saw these packets on a shelf yesterday!

popeyehoney

Wait…Corn Syrup, Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup? What the actual fuck?

It seems Popeye’s took honey and added crap to make it sweeter (what??) and more ‘honey-coloured’!  I can’t get over the lunacy here!  Why not just leave it as honey?  After all, isn’t honey sweet enough?  I didn’t taste it because I didn’t want to be sucked into another dimension.

Also, did you notice the appearance of ‘Caramel Color’ again? Those aren’t pictures of hexagonal honeycomb cells on the packet; they’re human cells dripping with cancer.

soapbox

1 Pun/Play on words intended
2 They’re not

Living in America isn’t as painful as England

I’ve already posted about medication in the US, and I’m sure I’ll post again about it in the future, but here’s an easy to swallow entry (cue pervert smile).

Take a look at this.

pills

Do you see how many there are in this container?  Yes, that’s right; FIVE hundred tablets.  That’s enough for 250 headaches!

And this wasn’t the largest; they also come in 1000s!

This is awesome!

Now, to my American friends and family this may seem normal, but in the UK the largest quantity of Ibuprofen you can get is 24.

Yes, twenty four.

pills uk

This ISN’T awesome.  If anything, it’s Awe-less.  It’s lacking awe in every possible way.

Most UK brands will max out at 16 tablets per pack, but there are a couple of chemists (or ‘pharmacies’ as they call them over here) that stock them in packs of 24 if you’re lucky enough to find them.

In fact, most shops, supermarkets and chemists will limit your purchase to two packs in one transaction.  I assume this is so you don’t have the means readily available to top yourself if the shitty weather (or T.O.W.I.E.*) gets too much for you.

Wow,you REALLY have to mean it in England.

In fact, to successfully overdose in England you’d have to buy over 20 packets, via multiple transactions, across several different establishments whilst adopting various disguises and questionable accents.

That is a serious commitment to the cause.

Alternatively you can just ask a friend to help buy them.

Mind you, if a friend is willing to help you AND you’ve had to undergo all that pissing about getting the tablets, you will probably want to end it all anyway.

At least you’ll have a valid reason.

At least in America you have the opportunity to be spontaneous.  You can be all dramatic and end it all if they give you soy milk in your Starbucks venti, half-whole milk, one quarter 1%, one quarter non-fat, extra hot, split quad shots (1 1/2 shots decaf, 2 1/2 shots regular), no foam latte, with whip, 2 packets of splenda, 1 sugar in the raw, a touch of vanilla syrup and 3 short sprinkles of cinnamon.

Phew, just reading that gives me a headache.

249 remaining.

jesus headache

* ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ – a TV show about useless ‘dumb-as-a-bag-of-rocks’ fuckwits doing nothing and yet somehow becoming role models for the younger generation; a lot like ‘Jersey Shore’ in the US, only twice as stupid.

Getting it right on 01/01/16

Happy new year everyone!  Welcome to 2016!

It’s at this time of the year that America gets it right.  There are so many occasions where they get it oh so wrong…but not at new year.  No, this is the time they get it oh so right.

In fact, they get it right twelve times a year.

So what am I talking about?  Allow me to go off topic for a change.

There are a lot of things in life that have a natural progression; night follows day,Ernie follows Bert and things that ‘must come down’ follow ‘what goes up’…it’s just the way things are.

A lot of things are incremented based on their size.  Think about it.

  • X-Small / Small / Medium / Large / X-Large.
  • Baby / Child / Teenager / Adult.
  • Second / Minute / Hour.
  • Month / Day / Year.

Er, wait, what?  I’m sorry, did I just say Month / Day / Year?

Sorry, my mistake!  I can’t believe I said that!

What I meant to say was Day / Month / Year….obviously!  I mean, who puts the month before the day?

Oh yeah, America does.

In America, for some reason, they do it arse about face.  Not only do they write their dates in the wrong chronological order, they’re blissfully unaware of it.  In fact, whenever I have this conversation with my newfound American friends they look at me with genuine surprise and say “Really?”.

They have no idea.

When I first moved from England this caused me some confusion.  For example, today’s date in the UK is 02/01/15, but in America that’s considered the 1st of February.

How did this ever become a thing?  Was Yoda teaching in early American schools?

By US logic, 8:30pm should be written as 30:8pm, right?

Actually it should be written as 20:30 (or 30:20), but the 24hr clock (or ‘Military time’ as it’s called over here) seems to confuse most people too.  It’s practically a necessity to use ‘am’ and ‘pm’ to tell the time.

So, for twelve times a year they get it right.  The 1st of January, the 2nd of February, the 3rd of March etc… all read the same way in America as it does in most of the world.

For 12 times a year, correct America gets it.

date_format

 

The power of AI

Today’s post isn’t about a particular incident or experience that has happened to me recently.  Instead I want to comment on something that causes my eye to twitch.

twitchy eye

In order to do this, I need to highlight the power of the letter ‘i’.  Let’s do a little test.

Below will be a variety of words which change with the addition of the letter ‘i’, in both the meaning and pronunciation.  I want to focus on the latter.

If you’re feeling participative, or not in an awkward place like the toilet, mid coitus or at a funeral, then say these following words out loud.

Mad – Maid

Pal – Pail

Brad – Braid

Pad – Paid

Lad – Laid

Crag – Craig

Now, if you’re English, the ‘i’ infused words will have changed; the ‘ai’ now rhyming with Pay, Say or Day.  This would’ve been consistent across all these words.

If you’re American, you pronounced the last one as ‘Creg’.

Yes, ‘Creg’.

I have never understood why this is the case.  Like the words ‘herb’, ‘basel’ and ‘pasta’, the name ‘Craig’ is one of the words that America has difficulty pronouncing correctly, despite not being related to Italian cooking.

Prior to moving to America, the name Craig hadn’t been one I’d encountered much in my life.  I knew one at school and, other than him, the only other Craig I know of is the singer Craig David.

That’s it.

But in the USA, the name Craig (Creg) comes up a lot, not because I’ve met a lot of Craigs, but due to a small known website called Craigslist (Cregslist).  This means I get to hear ‘Creg’ on a lot of occasions.

Lucky me.

This is exacerbated by the fact that a major street in Las Vegas is also called Craig.  I cross that bastard every day.

So, by this logic, the name Meg should actually be spelt ‘Maig’ but it isn’t.  Yet, the name Megan is pronounced ‘Maigan’.

Twaits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yes, I’m very aware that the word ‘Sad’ becomes ‘Said’….but let’s not talk about it, OK?