jueves, 6 de noviembre de 2014

81 things I learned in England

I recently came back to Norwich after being away for one year. The good old Norwich, my English home during my PhD. Below a non-exhaustive list of the things I learned after having lived here. You know, that kind of things that make England, or at least Norwich, ever so English.
(perdón por la falta de traducción al español, ando apurada, ya será a la vuelta).
1.     Making a “V” with your index and middle finger and showing it to someone with the back of your hand facing them, (which is basically what you would do if you wanted to say “two” using your fingers) is the equivalent to the middle-finger-signal popularly made in the rest of the world to say fuck off.
2.     When asking for two beers, you should not make a “V” with your index and middle finger and showing it to someone with the back of your hand.
3.     The two finders “V” signal is an historical leftover of wartime with France back in the days when people killed each other with arrows.
4.     Marmite is the French word for a sort of casserole pot.
5.     There is a drawing of a marmite in the jars of Marmite.
6.     Marmite is a sort of ultrasalty food paste made from yeast extract.
7.     You either hate or love marmite.
8.     I love marmite.
9.     People who gets married in England start booking and sending invitations at least one year in advance.
10. Floor may be slippery, just to let you know.
11. There may be a gap between the train and the platform (often there isn’t).
12. Mind the gap (even if there isn’t).
13. Train ticket prices get more expensive closer to the date of travel.
14. Train ticket prices have massive standard deviations depending on the time of travel within a single day.
15. Train ticket prices may change stochastically.
16. Book in advance.
17. Train tickets are not only “a ticket” but several pieces of paper. You need them all to travel. And one of them is necessary to get out of the station once you get to your destination. Do not lose it.
18. A two-hours-train counts as far from London.
19. It can take you two hours to cross London.
20. It takes around two and a half hours to get to Gatwick airport in a train departing from Norwich, but traveling by coach can take you up to six hours.
21. Norwich-Gatwick coaches stop in every tiny town of Norfolk.
22. There are many tiny tows in Norfolk.
23. What makes a city a city is not population size, but whether it has a cathedral or not.
24. Norwich has a cathedral, and it is a fine city.
25. Norwich once was more important than London.
26. There used to be lots of endogamy in Norfolk.
27. NN stands for Normal for Norfolk.
28. When you want to unlock your bike, but you forgot your keys in the office, but then when you come back with them in hand you accidentally drop them, but then you drop them again and then you struggle to open the lock…. when you do all that it is said that you are faffing.
29. Cool things are wicked.
30. Wicked is a global musical phenomenon that seems always to be playing in London.
31. It’s bollocks, not bullocks.
32. You are right is the equivalent to hello if you stumble with someone in the corridor.
33. Not too bad is the answer to how are you? no matter if your dog died or if you just won the Nobel prize.
34. I’m sorry and sorry ranked first and second in the most heard phrases of the corridor next to my office.
35. There is no such a thing as “the” British accent.
36. Birmingham accent is the less British of the British accents.
37. Pub quiz is serious business, very serious business.
38. Don’t join your friend’s team for pub quiz night if you are not sure how much English pop culture and music you know. Actually don’t join them even if you think you know lots.
39. Happy eggs are free range eggs.
40. Baker street exists.
41. There is no good pub in a town. There are always many and you should visit them all.
42. A pint is 568.261485 ml of beer, ale or milk.
43. A pint of beer or ale is a nice large glass, a pint of milk is a bottle.
44. You can ask for half a pint and get to try more kinds of beers and ales.
45. There are many kinds of beers and ales.
46. Beers and ales are served at room temperature. It’s wrong to wish they were cold.
47. Pub carpets tend to be sticky and smell funny. Apparently, people only realized this when smoking indoors became banned.
48. Many pubs have no carpets anymore.
49. If you watch a football match in a pub, there would be small pint symbol on the right corner. This is not remind you that your pint is about to be empty thus inciting you to drink more, it just means that they pay a sort of special tax to be able to show the game in a pub.
50. Rugby is a game for hooligans played by gentlemen and football a game for gentlemen played by hooligans.
51. An evening watching football does not necessarily mean watching players hit the ball, scoring goals and you know, the exciting stuff. It could also mean watching Jeff and a bunch of stats on screen.
52. Friends can gather and enjoy watching Jeff. I missed the football.
53. At some point of the year cricket will happen and it will last.
54. England is in the United Kingdom, which is not the same than Great Britain. The British Isles include the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Isle of Man, but not all of the Crown dependencies.
55. The previous point can be better explained with a Venn diagram.
56. You get your visa from the British Council, I’m still not sure which countries of point 54 that represents.
57. The Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada and Australia.
58. England has nice birds.
59. British passports have bird pictures on them. I like that.
60. English people tend to like birds.
61. Birders love watching birds.
62. People drive on the left and the plugs are different (and huge). You knew all that. But no one ever told you that in England the pepper shaker has three holes and the salt shaker one.
63. People will offer you a cup of tea.
64. It is nice to have a cup of tea.
65. Kettles and stoves are equally important kitchenware equipment.
66. You can have a scone with your tea.
67. A scone is a kind of thick single-serving cake that is eaten with jam and clotted cream.
68. Whether jam or clotted cream should be spread first can be a subject of intense debate.
69. If unsure if you should spread jam or clotted cream first do as the ones surrounding you do. If there is an argument about how to do it take no side.
70. Crisps can be flavored. Actually most crisp are. Shrimp, vinegar and salt, cheddar cheese & bacon are but a few examples. Yes, it is weird.
71. You can have a BBQ under the rain, literally.
72. Food at restaurants is not particularly amazing and tends to be very expensive. But oh, pub food is a different story.
73. You should have dinner in a pub.
74. The stereotype about rainy grey long weeks is a fact, but sunny days do happen (and they will be an important conversation topic).
75. English trains are not prepared for snow.
76. Roads and buses are not prepared for snow.
77. Airports are not prepared for snow.
78. People complains a lot when it snows.
79. In may experience, it snows every winter.
80. The last Monday of August is a bank holiday in an attempt to extend the summer.
81. People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

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