Sunday, July 27, 2008

Odds and Ends

In the middle of my three-day "sabbatical" from Canterbury, I have time to muse over some of the curious things I'm seeing and hearing....

Every trip to a pub or restaurant is an ode to "two nations separated by a common language." I've learned that a "fool" is a creamy, mousse-like dessert. A "mess" is something similar, but, well, a mess! "Pudding" seems to be a name encompassing all desserts. If you order "cream pie," it's likely to be cake with whipped cream on top. And "spotted dick" -- let's not even go there! But a pig roast is a pig roast, no matter how you slice it. And the one pictured above was to celebrate the end of the school year in the small village where we were staying, about 9 miles from Canterbury.

My Cockney driver is a total delight to listen to. I'd rather listen to him talk than eat, and that's saying a lot. When something surprises or shocks him, he cries, "Crikey!" Britain, just like I pictured it!

Americans use the phrase, "You get what you pay for." Here, it's "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!"

Today, in the press, I was called a "pantechnicon." I've looked it up and it means a "moving van." I still don't get it -- but can it be good?!

I walked to St. Paul's Cathedral yesterday. A bit of a hike, but with a gem of a church awaiting me at the end of the journey. When I arrived, I discovered it cost 10 Pounds to get in (about $21). Crikey! Even if tourists have to pay in order to keep up these museum-like churches, I was still offended by the high charge and left without going in. Am I getting cranky in my old age?

Cricket is a game with impenetrable rules and played solely for the purpose of confirming that Brits are superior to the rest of the world.

Across from my hotel, hundreds and hundreds of 18-25 year olds line up on Friday and Saturday nights to get into a local club. They're queueing up at 11:00pm as I'm going to bed. At 5:30 the next morning, as I'm getting up, they're coming out of their all-night jamfest. Most of them look exhausted from their pulsing night in the mosh pit, many looking still whacked-out on drugs. They congregate around the tube station, waiting for it to open, while I get coffee across the street. The local deli opens just to feed these kids who are trying to come back to their senses in the early morning light. It makes me sad to see these kids, obviously hungering for something, something not apt to be fulfilled in the club scene.

A quotation from +Richard Harries, retired Bishop of Oxford: "Diversity is God's gift to us; division is what we've made of it."

From a chat with a British priest on a diocesan staff: "Justice sermons don't go over very well here. It offends the British sense of being courteous and nice. Toleration is about as far as people are willing to go." No wonder we're having a problem!

All in all, the Brits are a kind and generous people -- courteous to a fault and delightful to be around. To this old Anglophile, it is a joy to be with them.