Photo from Flickr
To continue with my â€œI’ve been here how long?â€ theme, this week we’ll take a look at some of the things I would like to adapt to, but just can’t seem to get the hang of.
On the up side, I am pleased to say I can now travel around without getting lost (too often), can complain about the weather with the best of them, and even speak the language like a native. What I still cannot get to grips with however, are British eggs, electricity, aspirin and time.
The electrical sockets here are 220 volt. Yes, even for a night light or a Glade Room Freshener. This makes the Brits very cautious around electricity and practically eliminates amusing anecdotes about the time you convinced your little brother to stick a bobbie pin into an outlet. As a safety precaution, wall plugs have switches on them, so you can turn the power off â€œat the mains.â€
This is all well and good, as long as you remember to turn it on at the mains. I wish I had a 5 pence piece for every time my laptop ran out of power or I turned a light off and on half a dozen times wondering what was wrong with it or I returned to the kitchen after 20 minutes to see why I didn’t smell dinner cooking only to find the stove stone cold and the mains power still switched off.
And time, over here, is military-style, with trains arriving and leaving at such times as 16:34 or 19:04. And for some reason, I just cannot get used to this. The simple formula of subtracting 2 and losing the first digit (turning 18:46 into 16:46 or 6:46, for example) often has me thinking that my 18:47 train is due at 16:47 so that would make it 4:47. Even with a 24-hour watch, I would still have problems adjusting. The whole thing gives me a headache.
Which brings me to aspirin. The abiding belief that topping yourself by eating a handful of aspirin means you cannot buy it by the gross, as in the US. So I am forced to buy it in boxes of 12. And you can only buy one at a time. Consequently, when I get a headache, I have to go buy a box, take two and then put the box somewhere that I will remember it in the future. The medicine cabinet seems like a good place, and I swear that is where I put them, but weeks later, when I have another headache, the box has disappeared. So I have to buy another box.
Somewhere in this flat, there are about 187 12-packs of aspirin with 10 tablets left in them. I expect we’ll find them if we ever move out.
Photo from Flickr
As for eggs, I spent 46 years developing the perfect tapping technique for cracking an American egg and then found outâ€”to my bitter disappointmentâ€”that the skill is non-transferable. The problem, in my opinion, is they don’t feed their chickens enough DDT or whatever it is we feed them in the States because the shells here (on their brown, not white, eggs) are hard as walnuts.
Since it is my privilege to make breakfast on weekend mornings, and since my vegetarian wife and I have a limited selection of foods in common, a typical morning meal inevitably includes eggs. A favourite of mine is eggs over easy, and my wife likes fried eggs (they are the same thing, by the way) but the odds of me getting a yolk out of an eggshell in one piece are about the same as the Labour government sweeping to victory at the polls in the next general election.
Now, I know from experience that I have to hit the egg harder than I am used to, so I steel myself and give it a good whack. Generally, the first blow glances off the armour plating leaving hardly a nick. The second blow, delivered with more determination, adds a dent and a few cracks. So the third blow is practically guaranteed to end up with me holding a dripping mass of canary yellow goo, splintered eggshell and a good deal of something that unnervingly resembles snot in my hand.
We eat a lot of scrambled eggs.
But only if I remember to turn the stove on at the mains.