I Mumble; Therefore, I am Angry.

After 15 years of marriage, The Boffin and I still cross our communication signals like all couples do.  We join the Mutual Irritation Society over my mumbling.  It’s simple.  I mumble to myself to process my thoughts.  He automatically assumes something is wrong and asks if I am OK.  I get annoyed that he assumes that I am angry yet again.  He gets annoyed that I am annoyed that he is looking out for my welfare.

And so it goes.

When it happened yet again this morning, we knew it was a blog post.  The Boffin said, to him, it’s an environmental thing.  Where he grew up, muttering to yourself meant that you were angry, and he can’t escape that social conditioning.

There is a popular Twitter account called Very British Problems that has even turned into a TV show.  It discusses the stages of anger.

The Boffin thinks that needs to be compressed a bit.

In order to severity:

1) Look everywhere else but at the person

2) Shake your head slowly, outside of their peripheral vision

3) Mumble

4) Tut

5) Stare aggressively at the back of the offender’s head

6) Invade the offender’s 2ft personal space radius

7) Engage them in polite conversation. Persist until they leave.

I can’t help but think his being in America so long has him resorting to the nuclear option of engaging in polite conversation.  And I am not sure where writing letters falls into this.

Regardless, back to our marriage, he knows when I am truly angry because I am a slow burner who goes silent.  I can control my temper very well, and someone can intervene to keep me calm and reason with me when I am on the edge.

But when I go…well, as far as having a “fight or flight” impulse, The Boffin has stated that there is not much flight in me.  I mostly have “grenade or baseball bat”.  Let me put it this way, whenever I take a The Big Lebowski personality quiz, Walter Sobchak always shows up.

walter-sobchak-shomer-shabbos
And no, I don’t roll on Shabbos either because I can’t bowl to save my life.

It is a case of my husband knowing my true personality vs. a conditioned response.

Some will say we are perpetuating stereotypes by proposing this idea. It is a valid comment. Of course, not all Britons mumble when they are angry and not all Britons would interpret mumbling as anger.

However, we are also talking about communication and how society agrees on what gestures and actions mean. Verbal language is hard enough, and we have dictionaries and other reference materials as guides. The Boffin is not the first British person who has interpreted my mumbling as “She’s in a strop,” which is something I have never encountered on this side of the Pond.  My mumbling has been interpreted as confusion over here, which is a different stereotype altogether.

So I can only give you my narrow experience with this, and I know it is not definitive. It would be interesting to hear how others have had their actions interpreted internationally.

Of Custard Powder and Fables

I ordered Horne’s custard powder from Canada, and, to all the Britons out there, no, The Boffin is not starting divorce proceedings.  To the Americans out there, custard powder is a staple within the U.K. and many Commonwealth countries because custard is either served by itself, primarily to children, or it is served with so many desserts the same way you would with whipped cream or ice cream.  It is much quicker and easier to make than traditional custard because you don’t have to worry about curdled eggs.  All you have to do is heat with milk.

It was first invented by a chemist named Alfred Bird of Swansea back in 1837 because his wife was allergic to eggs and couldn’t enjoy traditional custard.  Mrs. Bird was a lucky lass, I say.

The British brand of choice is still Bird’s custard powder, and The Boffin still thinks it has a smoother, silkier mouth feel.  However, we decided to pick up a tin of Horne’s when we visited Canada.  I happen to like that brand better because it has vanilla, and it has four different starches which give it a fuller texture.  So we decided to alternate tins.  This is how an Anglo-American marriage works, folks.  Neither side claims superiority.

Besides, Bird’s is better for making custard creams.

Regardless, the Canadian company where I bought the powder sent a fable with its packing slip.  Service with a smile, so I thought I would pass it along.

canadian-fable

 

 

Some of the Reasons Why I am on Twitter

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Remembrance Day vs. Veterans Day

Both Remembrance Day and Veterans Day are celebrated on November 11, but they mark very different occasions and have very different tones to them.

Remembrance Day (also known as Armistice Day) marks the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918 that World War I officially ended and is observed by most countries who fought in the war, including the Commonwealth nations.  I know in the U.K., the main commemoration involving the Royal Family and other dignitaries includes two minutes of silence at 11:00 at the Cenotaph at Whitehall, and the other ceremonies throughout the nation happen on Remembrance Sunday, the Sunday closest to the 11th.

Last year, to honor each life lost within the British Empire during the Great War, an installment of 888,246 ceramic red poppies was displayed around the moat of the Tower of London. "Tower of London Poppy" by JeyHan - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tower_of_London_Poppy.jpg#/media/File:Tower_of_London_Poppy.jpg
Last year, to honor each life lost within the British Empire during the Great War, an installment of 888,246 ceramic red poppies was displayed around the moat of the Tower of London. It was the 100th anniversary of the start of the war.  Red poppies have come to symbolize Remembrance Day because of the poem, In Flanders Fields by John McCrae.  The Royal British Legion adopted it as a symbol in 1921.  “Tower of London Poppy” by JeyHan – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Over here, Veterans Day is a different thing entirely. It is a day that honors those who have served in the armed forces, living or dead. Wartime, peacetime…it doesn’t matter. So, if you signed on the dotted line, it’s your day. That is why you will see lots of memes on Facebook thanking veterans today from the Americans.  Because we have Memorial Day on Bank Holiday weekend in May to honor those we lost, it’s a lot less somber than Remembrance Day.

Case in point, this is what The Boffin told me this morning.

“Happy Veterans Day! Go find some free shit.”

Yes, businesses here give veterans stuff for free on Veterans Day.  Here is what I can get locally and some national deals.

I also found out I can get a free tall cup of coffee from Starbucks.  Like the vast majority of Americans, I don’t care what color the cup is.  I’ll just take a Sharpie and draw Stars of David on it.  Or not, because the coffee tastes like water brewed through compost.

So it’s the same date, but different days.  However, it is all down to honoring our troops, and I appreciate them in whatever way they served and are still serving.  Thank you, all of you.

Bonfire, Guy Fawkes, or That Dude in the Creepy Mask from V for Vendetta Night

For the benefit for folks in my parts, November 5, 1605 is a national holiday in the U.K. celebrating the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, the conspiracy to assassinate King James I by blowing up the Parliament building. Even though Guy Fawkes was the one discovered guarding the explosives, the mastermind behind the whole plot was one Robert Catesby. It’s a shame he never got the festival named after him, since it was his idea.

He was robbed. "Robert catesby npg" by probably by Adam, after Unknown engraver - National Portrait Gallery: NPG d21072While Commons policy accepts the use of this media, one or more third parties have made copyright claims against Wikimedia Commons in relation to the work from which this is sourced or a purely mechanical reproduction thereof. This may be due to recognition of the "sweat of the brow" doctrine, allowing works to be eligible for protection through skill and labour, and not purely by originality as is the case in the United States (where this website is hosted). These claims may or may not be valid in all jurisdictions.As such, use of this image in the jurisdiction of the claimant or other countries may be regarded as copyright infringement. Please see Commons:When to use the PD-Art tag for more information.See User:Dcoetzee/NPG legal threat for more information.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.English | Español | Français | Magyar | Italiano | Македонски | Türkmençe | +/−. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
He was robbed. “Robert catesby npg” by probably by Adam, after Unknown engraver – National Portrait Gallery: NPG d21072While Commons policy accepts the use of this media, one or more third parties have made copyright claims against Wikimedia Commons in relation to the work from which this is sourced or a purely mechanical reproduction thereof. This may be due to recognition of the “sweat of the brow” doctrine, allowing works to be eligible for protection through skill and labour, and not purely by originality as is the case in the United States (where this website is hosted). These claims may or may not be valid in all jurisdictions.As such, use of this image in the jurisdiction of the claimant or other countries may be regarded as copyright infringement. Please see Commons:When to use the PD-Art tag for more information.See User:Dcoetzee/NPG legal threat for more information.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.English | Español | Français | Magyar | Italiano | Македонски | Türkmençe | +/−. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

For the most part, when I was living there 20 years ago, it was always an innocuous holiday full of fireworks and fun, although there was a question about the effigies. It is traditional to burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the town’s bonfire. Understood. Cool. Even before I came over, sometimes towns would throw in a likeness of someone who is persona non grata like the late Margaret Thatcher. However, what made me squicky, were the pope effigies in a few isolated areas. Now, you crossed the line into religion. I understood that the whole point of the celebration was the thwarting of a Catholic conspiracy against the Protestant king, but I grew up Catholic.  How was this OK?  Were these people saying people like me were not wanted?

Of course, now, I realize my fears were unfounded.  The U.K. is a much more religiously tolerant place than the actions of Bonfire Night would make out to be.  The pope effigies are gone, and there is some debate about whether the effigies are appropriate for the modern age.  That is not for me to say, since I am on this side of the Pond.

While the Britons are deciding on what they want, this year, in Lewes, the targets are David Cameron with his friend, the pig’s head, and Sepp Blatter, the currently suspended and disgraced FIFA president.  That should make for quite a blaze.

The smell of bacon should mix well with the consequences of gunpowder, treason, and plot.

So Dame Maggie Needs to Eat.

Apparently, Dame Maggie Smith admitted on The Graham Norton Show that she occasionally shops at Waitrose in Storrington in West Sussex.  It is to be expected as she lives close by.

Now I really don’t understand how this became news considering that, while Waitrose isn’t the Harrods Food Hall, it is a pretty solidly middle class supermarket in which to shop.  I could see Dame Maggie picking up her provisions there very easily.

What would be newsworthy would be if she announced that she were a Tesco Clubcard member.  Even better if someone caught a snapshot of her in Tesco loading her trolley full of Carling Black Label.

No, I want a photo of her with the beer in the trolley while in the snacks section loading up on crisps too.

No, even better, she should be busting open a multipack of Walker’s Cheese & Onion crisps and getting started on the binge while filling the rest of her cart with Monster Munch and other essential sundries.

Hang on, one more detail, she should be dressed as The Dowager while she is stuffing her face with cheese and onion crisps in the middle of the snack aisle at Tesco with a trolley full of Carling Black Label and filling the remain space with Monster Munch and other snackables.

Because she is Dame Maggie, and she doesn’t give a shit.

Image courtesy of The Associated Press
Image courtesy of The Associated Press

Yeah, that would be cool.

The Shipping Forecast to American Ears

Not that The Victory is going anywhere, but it is a ship, and it is cool.  "Victory Portsmouth um 1900" by Unknown - http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.08801. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
Not that The Victory is going anywhere, but it is a ship, and it is cool. “Victory Portsmouth um 1900” by Unknown – http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.08801. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Audio media is still a critical part of British culture, and being an island nation, the BBC provides a valuable service by broadcasting the weather report at sea.  Produced by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Shipping Forecast has become a staple on the British communication since the telegraph days.

But that does not mean I understood a word of it when I heard it on Radio 4.  Stephen Fry created an accurate representation of what most outsiders hear when encountering this mystical broadcast.

Was this part of the citizenship test?  Was this code left over from the war, and the powers that be just kept it around for tradition’s sake?    Was this an elaborate game of Mornington Crescent that the U.K. was in on just to baffle foreigners?

But I developed a certain affection for the Shipping Forecast even though I had no clue about it.  It was very hypnotic and soothing.  It started with its theme “Sailing By” by The Perry-Gardner Orchestra, and the mood is set.  Then you had the reader say these cryptic words with a rhythm that was almost nautical and definitely soporific.  Insomnia was never an issue after the Shipping Forecast.

I ended up looking it up in a book in the Newmarket library because I was too embarrassed to ask anyone.  I shouldn’t have been.  After all, how is an American supposed to know how to decode the Shipping Forecast?

I am going to try to give a general summary of how it works.  When broken down, it isn’t that bad.  As you can see by the Stephen Fry graphic above, the water regions are divided and named.  There are also inshore waters that are named and coastal weather stations that are numbered, and they are mentioned in the broadcast too.

Then the readers give the wind direction (south, southeast, etc.) and whether it is veering (changing clockwise) or backing (changing counterclockwise).  You will hear a number from zero to 12 in there.  That’s from the Beaufort scale and that measures wind speed with zero being calm to 12 being hurricane force.  The announcers usually give the weather forecast and then the visibility (good, moderate, poor, fog).  Under winter conditions, they will also grade the icing (light, moderate, severe).  Oh, one more thing, they also keep track of pressure areas in millibars, so you will hear things like “Low Humber, 960, deepening rapidly.”

Back in 1993, the BBC aired the Shipping Forecast on TV and radio, and somebody was kind enough to post it on YouTube.  For some, this could be meditative.  For others, this could be pencil-in-the-throat boredom.  If you are awake after this video, you are one very strong soul.

It is probably easier to just go to the Met Office website to get a visual, but where is the challenge and fun in that?