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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10 things I’ve learned about Americans that I didn’t know before.

I love top ten lists.

I think I’ve read every single one of them online, from the top ten destinations in the world or the top ten things to do in video-games to the top ten ways to kill and dispose of a body.

Pff, like I didn’t already know that.

And the other day I realised I haven’t ever composed my own.  It wasn’t due to an oversight; I simply didn’t have any topic that warranted a top ten list.  I suppose I could’ve done the top ten nicest arses in the gym…but that is a) usually my wife’s, or b) pointed out to me by my wife which means it’s technically her top ten and not mine.

So I thought long and hard (smirk) about it and I discovered I did have something that warranted a top ten list.  This is something that encapsulates a lot of ideas I’ve had recently and pulls them together into one post.

You see, before I moved to the USA, I knew there were certain eccentricities, weird behaviours and foibles the Americans had, like the inability to keep quiet, the lack of portion control or the fact they are easily offended by every single thing ever.

Seriously, you call someone a cunt once…..

But there have been a whole shit-ton of things I didn’t know about until I was actually amongst them. And by ‘shit-ton’, I mean ten.

So here are ten things I’ve learned about Americans that I was blissfully unaware of before I lived here.

 

1 – They’re crackers about soup

I’m being literal here, they can’t comprehend that soup can be eaten without first shoving in fistfuls of crumbled up crackers.  In the UK we have a famous brand of crackers called Jacobs and we put all sorts of things on them like cheese, hams (deli meats), spreads and various types of pâté, but I’ve never ever heard of anyone anywhere…ever…crumbling them up and putting them in their minestrone.

Now I think about it, I haven’t seen pâté since I’ve been here.  Probably because there’s no sugar or caffeine in it.

crackers

They’re crackers about crackers…

Anyway, I’ve asked a few Americans why they put crackers in their soup and I get the same blank look and awkward shrug I always get when I ask them why they do what they do.

They simply have no idea.

It’s just what they do apparently.  Some say it’s due to the crunch, but that has to be utter bollocks because the crunch dissolves in piping hot soup in less time than it takes for a redneck to finger his sister.

Note – I just asked a work colleague (and fellow blogger) if that last sentence could be considered more offensive than funny.

He asked me “Do you find it funny?”

I do.

He then asked, “Is it more funny to you than offensive?

It is.

“Then post it”.

I did.

He then followed up with “Did you know that ‘incest’ is the most searched word on PornHub?”

I didn’t.

So sister-fingering stays.

Worryingly, I wouldn’t have even questioned this a year ago.  I would have just written what I found funny and hoped you lovely readers out there would just ‘get it’ (the humour, not the finger).

My god, am I becoming more American?  Am I worried you’re going to be offended?  Am I going to appear on this list?

Nah.

 

2 – They don’t do rounds in a bar

I realise I’ve already covered this one in a previous post, but it really did catch me by surprise.  Interestingly, one of my friends who reads my blog has actually started to go into rounds with me when we go out drinking (shout out to A.G!).

busy-bar

I still find it bizarre that everyone buys their own drink and then complains that it takes forever to get served.

 

3 – Energy drinks!

This is another one I’ve already bleated on about, but seriously…what is going on here America?  You guys drink more of this shit in a day than is available anywhere else in the world over the course of an entire year!  It’s got to the point now where fridges in gas stations across the land are awash with hundreds of different brands, flavours, sizes and strengths.  It seems to be the answer to everything here.

Need a pick-me-up? Have a Red Bull.

Hungover?  Have a Monster.

Heart not beating fast enough?  Down a Rockstar (but not in a groupie kind of way).

11806581

Some people imbibe these Taurine infused, over caffeinated silos of flavoured sugar water with the regularity and ferocity of chain smoking vapers, but more twitchy.

 

4 – TMA (Too Many Acronyms)

I already knew about things like the FBI, the CIA, the DMV or the KKK…and there are the obvious ones like FYI, WTF, OMG, ETC…

But I had no idea how much Americans love to acronym everyday shit….every day.

E.g. (see what I did there?)

TMI (Too Much Information – something I was hearing a LOT. I wonder why.)

BRB (Be Right Back – although why people don’t just say “Be Right Back”; it takes the same amount of time to say….and in the time it took to explain that to me, they could’ve been right back)

CPA (Certified Public Accountant – How the fuck (or HTF) was I supposed to know that?)

FSA (Flexible Savings Account, and NOT the Financial Services Authority!)

FMLA (The Family and Medical Leave Act – It’s a thing out here related to being off sick from work, or something.  Personally I thought it was something to do with a vagina)

TFTI (Thanks For The Invite – This is really a thing.  I’ve heard it used in conversations.  I tend to reply with ‘NP’ which doesn’t go down too well)

PSA (Public Service Announcement. It’s not a service if I don’t know what it means)

CPS (Child Protection Services – something children actually use to threaten parents with; those precious little fucking snowflakes)

OAB (Over Active Bladder, and not Old Aged Bastard as I first thought….although they are closely linked)

HOA (Home Owner’s Association – A governing body that tells you what you can or can’t do with your home, maintains the upkeep of the lawns and parks that you never visit and charges you a fee for that.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?)

HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle – This is a lane on the Freeway (motorway) for cars with more than one person. That’s right, in America, TWO passengers is considered high occupancy)

SOP (Standard Operating Procedures – and NOT something you use in the shower)

EO (Early Out – This is when you leave early from work…because simply saying you’re leaving early is too much, apparently)

QBR (Quarterly Business Report – It makes sense now that I’ve written it, but try being in a conversation when it’s being used every other word and you can’t understand why they keep talking about a UK football club).

It’s a little OTT, TBH.

FFS.

picard-acronym

 

5 – Their jokes are just awful.

Americans can’t tell jokes.  I mean, they can TELL a joke, but the jokes aren’t funny.  Back home we have things called Christmas Crackers which two people pull apart and they make a loud ‘snap’ noise (the crackers, not the people).

cracker-pits

These dogs are about to snap (groan)

Inside these noisy little bastards is a crap little toy, a flimsy tissue paper crown and a joke; a tame, vanilla joke intended to not cause offence in any way.  It’s simple humour to appeal to adults and kids alike.

That’s the sort of jokes I get told here.  Things like, “Where do you take a sick bee?  To a waspital”. Seriously, it’s like that.

I once tested the water with a Jimmy Carr classic; “What do you get if you put a baby in a blender?  An erection.”

The water was cold.  Very, very cold.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been told some genuinely funny jokes in the US, and my new and awesome American friends are some of the funniest people I know, but overall I’ve noticed an innocence in the joke telling here.

This from a country that brought us Family Guy.

Weird.

 

6 – They subscribe to foreign stereotypes.

I knew America had a warped view or the world – if Epcot is anything to go by – but they REALLY believe the stereotypes of the world.

For example, they genuinely believe that the English (or ‘British’ as they call us, which I’ve given up trying to explain) drink high tea every day from small porcelain cups and saucers with our pinkies firmly sticking out.  They also believe that we accompany this tea with either scones or crumpets.

They also find it hard to believe that English muffins aren’t English, French toast isn’t French, and German chocolate cake isn’t German. The irony here is the fact they call Belgian waffles, ‘waffles’….and those genuinely ARE Belgian.

stereotyped-world

When you tell them this, they look at you with the tilted head of a puppy and simply don’t believe you.

Minds, blown.

 

7 – They are the centre of the world, literally.

I was shown this.

usa-centre-map

America, the centre of the world

And apparently, so are children.

Yes, that’s right, schools are apparently teaching this version of the map of the world.  I asked my wife about this and her face dropped before then bursting into laughter saying it was true and she had forgotten that schools actually teach this!

As much as I try and keep my blog light and funny, it does sadden me that so many people I’ve met here are truly clueless about anything outside the US borders.  One woman my wife worked with thought Europe was a country and didn’t know Britain was an island.  I’ve even spoken to people who didn’t know there was a difference between Austria and Australia.

I’m not going to say anymore about this because I’m sure this will be the basis of a future post.

 

8 – Can’t recycle.

I know there is a huge drive to recycle in America nowadays – and so many people are doing it – but that’s not what I’ve experienced. It warms my heart that my employer has recycling bins everywhere, on every floor, and I love opening those bins up and seeing paper, soda cans and…food?  Yes, that’s right, America seems to believe that food is recyclable.

Technically it is, but that’s called ‘poo’.

It’s not only food I’ve seen; there’s been tissues, plastic wrapping, broken mugs and body parts.

Oh, wait, no…never mind.  I haven’t caught anyone putting the wrong things into the recycling bins so that’s not happened yet.  Give it time.

recycle-rage

And it doesn’t stop with recycling.  The USA is unbelievably wasteful.  There are so many products that have a one time use and then are thrown away (in the wrong bin).  People will use a paper/plastic plate to spread cream cheese on their bagel (because, apparently, if it isn’t cream cheese, smoked salmon or some shit called ‘schmear’, it doesn’t belong on a bagel) and then throw away the plate and knife. I’ve been asked to eat off paper plates at home because it ‘saves on washing up’, but it doesn’t save the world (which, as we all know, spans from Maine to California)

The other day I was waiting at a red light behind a car and the driver opened her door and threw out all her rubbish onto the road.  And then, without a care in the world, closed the door and didn’t look back.  If she had, she would’ve seen me giving her the finger…and not in a redneck/sister kind of way.

 

9 – Entitlement

Again, I’ve already talked about how entitled people are here, but I had no idea to what extent.  Jesus, some people here believe the world owes them a favour.  I’ve encountered people like this in my life before, but not on the scale I have in America.

Here’s an example that caused this to make my top ten list….

I heard a tale of a customer who had been sent a gift by a company for being a great customer.  They sent her a beautiful, hand carved, solid wood shoe rack.  The customer had mentioned in passing that she really wanted one, so they decided to treat her.

She received the gift and then, instead of being grateful, called in to complain it didn’t fit in the part of the room she wanted it to and was forced (yes, ‘forced’) to donate it.  She then demanded discounts on all future purchases for the stress and grief caused by receiving a gift she couldn’t use.

In England we would keep the shoe rack, even if it was an inconvenience.

No, really, it’s fine.  Honestly, it’s fine.  No, it’s lovely, I promise.  It’s fine.  I don’t want to be a bother.  Seriously, it’s fine.  Thank you. Sorry. Sorry. Thank you.  I’m sorry.

hold-door

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve wanted to do this…

 

10 – Subtitles for accents!

If you watch any TV show or documentary in America where they’re talking to someone with an accent…there are subtitles.  Now, for clarity, I’m not talking about people speaking a different language than English.  No, these people are actually speaking English but with an accent.

I’m not talking about complicated accents like Glaswegian (because no-one understands those guys, not even the Scottish), but instead Italian, French, Spanish, German, Alabama etc…

I couldn’t believe it.

Is America so unable to understand an accent that’s not home grown?  Mind you, I’ve been misunderstood more times than a redneck fingers his…..oh, wait, I’ve done that joke.

I said, I-‘V-E   B-E-E-N  M-I-S-U-N-D-E-R-S-T-O-O-D  M-O-R-E  T-I-M-E-S  T-H-A-N  A  R-E-D-N…oh, never mind.

bowtie-anger

The stereotype doesn’t match the stereo type

On the London Underground there were two black guys stood not too far away from me, both dressed virtually identically and both with shaved heads.

They weren’t travelling together, yet they had both hit the stereotype perfectly on the head with their choice of attire, hairstyle (or lack of) and the fact they were both sporting red Dr.Dre Beats headphones.

They were both casually bopping their heads to whatever they were listening to.

RnB or Hip Hop probably.

Is that a bit presumptive?

(Well, stereotypes exist for a reason).

We all got off the train and headed for the lift (elevator) to the surface, packed in tighter than a takeaway carton at a buffet.

The headphone twins both adopted the stereotypical swagger of someone with one leg shorter than the other, holding up their jeans with one hand and showing us too much underwear.

Like all lifts (elevators), it was deathly silent as we ascended, despite there being approximately 25 people in there.  It was at this point I realised I could hear music coming from one of our ‘gangstas’.

In the silence I could make out what he was listening to.

Shirley Bassey.

will the fuck

Two posts in one day? I’m Dublin my output.

I have just met the new guy in the office.

It turns out he’s a temporary contractor for some project or another.

He’s Irish, has ginger hair and is called Patrick.

Oh, and he was wearing a green jumper/sweater.

I shit you not.

To be sure.

So it is.

Potato!

Leprechaun

 

 

Chav chav train

Ah the people I see on the train….

The mum – short, chubby and freakishly butch, neck tattoo, short cropped hair with blonde tips, gold teeth and leggings, holding a Staffordshire Bull Terrier on a studded leash.

The daughter – taller, chubby, badly drawn arm tattoo of two indecipherable names, bleached blond hair scraped back, leggings, stained vest top and holding two pushchairs full of offspring.

The son – skinny, deprived of daylight, spotty, gold earring, headphones and a vacant look in his eyes.

Stereotyping?

Me?

Never.

image