I can’t believe it’s not American

One of the weird things about living in the UK is discovering all those musicians you sort of vaguely assumed were American are actually British.

For example, it kinda blew my tiny mind that The Beta Band hailed from Edinburgh. If High Fidelity had been set in the UK like the book was, maybe I’d have figured it out sooner.

Not to mention that Brits pronounce it ‘BEE-ta.’ When you’re not prepared to hear something pronounced like that, it adds a comical element to conversations. Although you have to be careful not to point it out, because some people won’t necessarily see the funny side.

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The penultimate post…

…Of November, anyway!

My first NaBloPoMo, and it’s gone a million times better than any of my NaNoWriMo years! Thanks to you (yes, YOU) for reading. It’s great to feel like my words aren’t just getting sucked into a void of indifference.

Once November is over, I’m going to cut back on my posting quantity in favour (heh, extra ‘u’s never lose their novelty) of writing longer pieces. In December, I’m going to be doing a series on British Christmas traditions (mostly food, it seems like you guys really like to read about food).

If you have any questions about British culture from an American perspective or there’s anything else you’d like to see, drop me a line in the comments.

Black Friday fever

You might think that because they’re a nation given to naturally forming lines (a practice known as ‘queuing’) in all circumstances, the English are always polite. They’re certainly stereotyped that way in the States. One thing they aren’t, though, is immune to bargains:

Even on shoving people to the floor so you can get £20 off a Coffee Maker is still an assault.

Thanks, Sgt Paul Marshall!

Now that our decadent capitalist practice of dedicating an entire day to shopping has made it to British shores, there is indeed anarchy in the UK. A television fell on someone.

The interesting thing is, there’s no Thanksgiving but there is Black Friday. It’s not a holiday; people still went to work. But there are huge sales anyway.

Happy Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in England, so we expats can honor our silly American holiday any way we choose. For me, Thanksgiving is pumpkin ravioli, sweet rolls, and MST3K.

But, while MST3K may be streaming a Thanksgiving marathon, the site displays the eleven most heartbreaking words in the English language, a phrase with which we on this side of the Atlantic are intimately familiar: ‘The uploader has not made this video available in your country.’

But I’m not one to let a little thing like region locking stop years of tradition, so for me it’s Night of the Blood Beast and a few family favorites, like What to Do on a Date:

And Body Care and Grooming:

However and wherever you celebrate, Happy Turkey Day!

Christmas, Special

There’s a captive audience for Christmastime telly. All your family, together in one place? Better switch on the TV and diffuse those tensions! There’s always a bumper crop of movies, but the staple of seasonal British TV viewing is the Christmas special.

Christmas specials are new episodes of TV shows that are aired during Christmas and as such aren’t part of the show’s regular season. Hence, specials. They aren’t necessarily fuzzy, feel-good stories either. Doctor Who in particular often takes joy in killing (sorry, exterminating) lots of characters in its Christmas specials, but this year might be a little different, judging by the synopsis released today:

The Doctor and Clara face their Last Christmas. Trapped on an Arctic base, under attack from terrifying creatures, who are you going to call? Santa Claus!

And if you’re part of the minuscule percentage of the population that aren’t Sherlock fans, you might’ve missed the furore yesterday over the release of a new promo picture. Aside from the temporarily missing body part, the picture is purportedly from the Sherlock Christmas special.

In 2015.

It’s hard enough anticipating something as big as Christmas. How hard must it be for you to want it to be over with so you can move on to the next one? But, as they love to remind us, Sherlock fans are used to waiting, so I’m sure they won’t mind waiting a little longer.

Christmas windows in London

England has the best shopping in the world. Not for nothing did Napoleon call the English “a nation of shopkeepers.” Some people might put in a word for Galeries Lafayette or Macy’s but for luxury, diversity of choice, and rampant consumerism all in one immaculate package, London’s department stores are the place to be. There are even TV shows about them.

Christmas, as I’ve mentioned before, is the biggest shopping event of the year. British department stores, especially the flagship stores in London, push to extremes to have the best window displays each Christmas.

Creative Review has a look at the best department store Christmas windows. Naturally, the British stores top the list.

If you can’t get to Oxford Street between now and December 24th, here’s a taste of what you’re missing:

Toad in the hole

British food is ridiculous. It usually involves some combination of beef, sausage, batter, and frying. This also makes it pretty easy to replicate at home.

A good place to start? Toad in the hole. It’s an actual dish that also has the benefit of you being able to tell people that you are eating toad in the hole for dinner.

It’s just sausages and batter. You fry the sausages in the oven, pour batter over them, and cook. This recipe is pretty much foolproof.

Toad in the hole is so easy they even made it on Drunk Kitchen.