Everyone has heard the phrase, “It’s the little things.” Sometimes, the clichés are the most appropriate words to use to sum up the feelings a person has, and I do have some conventional and oddball things that I miss about the U.K.
Easy Access to Cadbury chocolate – We are talking some good stuff, and I can opine about this, but I need to explain something else. Hershey’s, being that they have license to the Cadbury name in the U.S., has blocked the import of U.K. Cadbury chocolate into the United States. Now, British expats and emigrants, who are normally mild-mannered about not having everything from Old Blighty at their fingertips, were ready to reignite 250-year-old grievances over this outrage. I will do a whole blog post about the divide between American v. British chocolate, and it is not as simple and one may think.
Shopping in Cambridge – Heffers Bookshop (before Blackwell’s bought it) was a place where I could lose hours of my life. Wax Lyrical, a candle shop, that had these wonderful floating ones in all these unusual shapes, e.g. cute little frogs and intricate roses. Woolworth’s for a little bag of pic’n’mix sweets (heavy on the fizzy cola bottles). I know what I had doesn’t exist anymore, and I don’t want to recreate it. But I can’t help but be wistful sometimes.
Towel Warmers – Dammit, these need to be standard issue over here too! There is nothing better than a warm towel upon leaving a shower or bath.
Pubs – Proper pubs with carveries. Getting a nice Sunday lunch with the roast of the day and a pint along with good conversation with the ones you love. Sticky carpet from the 1970s. Decor of random locally themed bits and bobs in a poltergeist style. Being ignored for 10 minutes until someone fills your drink order. Creeky wooden tables and chairs that miraculously do not collapse. (Must be held up by the same spirits that did the decorating.) It’s all part of the atmosphere and charm.
Tesco’s Cheese and Onion Rolls – The 6-pack of wonder. I looked at the label and did not read “crack” on the ingredient list, but they spoke to me. They said, “We want to live in your belly!” It was the “I’m tired. I don’t want to cook, and my ex-husband was at doing his overnighter at the fire station shift.” dinner. I still end up picking up a pack and chowing down whenever I go back. Every so often, I still check the website to make sure they are still available just so I can sleep
Weird Advertisements in British Newspapers – Since I subscribe to the Private Eye, I only receive a small sample of what I was accustomed to getting.
Because one would be racked with shame and regret over one’s swimming pool decisions at the baggage carousel, of course. And this guy is so preoccupied over not using Jolly Gel, his jacket will be caught in the teeth of the carousel when it turns on, and he will be clobbered by some family of Texan’s 50-lb Samonsites while he is struggling to break free.
Not Knowing How People Would React to My Accent – I know this sounds really weird, but hear me out. In the U.K., most people did not make small talk. But those who did were genuinely kind and curious about where I was from and wanted to ask questions or talk about the fantastic holiday they had. So many tales were told of fun times in Orlando, New York, and D.C. If I were talking to people around my age, I gained bonus points by saying I grew up sandwiched between New York and Philadelphia, which somehow seemed exotic compared to East Anglia, I guess. On the other hand, quite a few Britons mistook me for being Canadian considering my penchant for wearing my Philadelphia Flyers apparel. I would also be lying if I said all my interactions with the Britons were positive regarding my nationality. But given the good far outweighed the bad, I had no reason to be gun-shy.
The world is getting smaller through technology and imports, so I can get a good chunk of Britain shipped over in some way as treats, but some things have to remain over the ocean or in my memory. It only leaves me room for new experiences.