Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Bring on the Bridesmaids

My American friends all sent me off back to Blighty with some variation on, "Don't forget your hat for the wedding!"  Sadly I could only retort with the lame old chestnut, "Oh yes, that wedding. We did get invited but we don't really feel like going." 
I'm not going to add to the vast array of comment, except on one thing. I had been concerned, that, unlike with previous Royal weddings,  we hadn't had an announcement about who the bridesmaids and pages were going to be. As I remember, that would normally come some weeks before the event, throwing a bone to the avid Royal-watchers waiting impatiently for the Big Day. But this time, nothing. It got me worried. I was very alarmed that the American connection would prevail and there would be an American-style wedding, with adult bridesmaids in grotesque, skimpy dresses, sashaying up the aisle, smirking, one by one in advance of the bride like a fashion parade and then lining up beside the couple with the same number of "groomsmen" on the other side. Not just one happy couple but six or eight, or even more. But now, at last, the news is out and I'm vastly relieved to see that they are doing it British-style, with a lot of small bridesmaids and pages.

That's the proper British way and kinder to less-than-svelte girlfriends of the bride, who would otherwise have to be crammed into glorified corsets and individually gawped at by the congregation as they pass. You can't go wrong with small children, who look sweet no matter what they're wearing. Speaking of which,  I've noticed, in some uneducated quarters of the British media,  the creeping Americanism of calling child bridesmaids "flower girls". They are not. They are bridesmaids, OK? American weddings might have one little girl scattering rose petals and a little boy in a suit carrying the ring on a cushion. They are the flower girl and ring bearer and they should stay where they are - in America.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Pleasures of Modern London Part One

Include Morris dancing on the green

or rather the concrete outside Wimbledon station in the London suburbs. That's what I love about London - you never know what you might see next. But it seems many things have changed since I went away. Every time I come back to London, I feel more and more like a foreigner. For example,  I have nothing against bus drivers, except the ones that drive off just as you puff up to the stop.  But suddenly, now,  everyone getting off the bus is thanking the driver. Which is a nice development except that now, as well as lugging your shopping, dinging the bell, etc, you have to remember to shout, "Thank you driver!" That didn't tend to happen back in the day. But you have to do it in case the drivers keep a blacklist of ungrateful passengers,  smart enough to identify them as they puff up to the bus stop.
Another thing. Why is everyone suddenly saying "Oh Bless!" This is bad enough when I mention my dear old mother. I only have to say that she did something perfectly normal, like having a cup of tea,  to get an "Oh Bless her!" from all and sundry. Well I know people are trying to be kind. With the emphasis on the trying. But the other day I was on the phone to an office about some mundane bureaucratic thing. I mentioned to the receptionist that I had been trying to get hold of one of her colleagues without any response.   "Oh Bless!" she said.  Oh !@#$% more like. Enough of this fad, thank you!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

McDonalds? Not Today Thank You

  And speaking of McDonalds, the other day I bought a newspaper at the station and the newsagent thrust into my hand a block of vouchers for money off at the fabled Golden Arches gourmet eateries.  I'm not one to turn down a free lunch and I have to confess to enjoying the occasional Big Mac but I couldn't imagine getting through all of it. So, I thought to myself, I'll do a good deed. I'll pass the vouchers on to someone else. On the station platform, I approached likely looking people - mostly those with children in tow - and offered them the vouchers. Well you'd think I was offering a controlled substance. "Oh no, thank you!" said the first mum. And the next. So, I said to myself, I'll go for the granddads. They like giving the kids treats. "We don't eat that sort of thing", said the granddad sitting on the bench. There was one more mother to try. She had two little boys. They must, I thought, love McDonalds. She looked at me pityingly, "Sorry but we try to eat healthy food."  And far from looking upset at her reaction, the little boy sided with her. "You could always", he confided to me, "Throw it in the bin". Which is what, sadly, I ended up doing. Nice try McDonalds. And another sign that this isn't the Britain I grew up in. I wonder what the reaction would be in America. I suppose it would depend on where you were.

OK the tulips, from a week or two back, are nothing to do with the story but they are in McDonalds colours.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Springtime in London

The blog is on a family visit to London for a few weeks, so once again apologies for the erratic service. Keep watching this space.
At last we have some decent weather here - the British spring has been much later than usual.

But there have been pretty sights, including some magnificent magnolias.

These are different fom the tall monsters you get in the southern US and quite often get blighted by frost - but not this year. Since I've been here there's been cold and rain but not a lot of frost.

It's been good to hear British blackbirds singing. They really know how to hold a tune, unlike American ones, which sound like rusty hinges.  The last couple of days have been seriously warm and Brits not quite sure what to do about them. Amusingly, the tubes and trains are displaying signs, "In this hot (sic) weather, make sure you carry a bottle of water." How we ever survived in the old days without ubiquitous bottles of water, I can't imagine.
  I have noticed one thing though - the return of people bringing nasty smelling food onto the trains. There was a plague of this when I last lived in London and then things got better. Now a new generation have to be taught manners.  And food has got much smellier. It's not just McDonalds and fish and chips any more. There's always something to make travel on public transport more pleasurable. But I shouldn't complain. In rural western New York there is no public transport - or none that I've noticed.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Florida's Little Pleasures

I can't help it - my mind keeps dancing back to Florida and our beloved Golden Beach, now undoubtedly sweltering in glorious spring temperatures. The winter orchid tree in the front

will be giving way to the spring one at the back

which already had a few flowers before we left at the end of February.  I had been feeling nostalgic when I saw  this exciting story from up the road in Nokomis. Yes, once again, a giant alligator found its way into somebody's swimming pool.  That's the sort of thing that happens in Florida, which can be edgy where wildlife is concerned. I still remember that bobcat sauntering towards me at our beach access. The alligator was more ammunition for hubby, who has a long list of reasons why we should not join the countless residents who dig up their back gardens to install, as he puts it,  a glorified bathtub so they can stand in it when the weather gets hot. "Another reason not to have a pool", he said smugly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Brits and the Bottle Machine

  In Blighty, they are thinking about something really revolutionary. This is the introduction of bottle gobbling machines in supermarkets to recycle your beer bottles and other stuff and get some money back. Well hello, Britain must be the last country in the world not to have these. Back in western New York we have been experiencing them for a whole, so herewith a few helpful hints.
1) It takes a huge mental effort finally to resolve to stop on your hurried dash out of the door and lift the  overflowing box of bottles from the floor to the car. But it is worth it.
2) It's one of life's minor pleasures to feed your bottles one at a time into the machine and hear them being digested with loud smashes, clanks and crunches and I swear it - burps and then see the cents piling up on the little screen.
3) You can also take perverse enjoyment in feeding the wrong sort of bottle in and seeing if the machine can be fooled. Usually it can't.
4) You must remember not only to take your paper voucher out of the machine but also to present it at the till to get your money back. That's where the system starts to break down and presumably where they count on making their money.
5) There are legions of Americans who make an industry out of working out how you can purchase your bottles in a state with low deposit fees and then recycle them in a state where you get more money back. Of course you have to factor in transporting your bottles over state lines, though I'll bet there are some people who fill up pickup trucks specially for this. Judging by the number of customers  I get stuck behind at the supermarket checkout, who produce armfuls of fiddly, time-consuming coupons cut from obscure magazines to save money, I wouldn't be at all surprised.
Britain can't get bottle machines soon enough. It will be a whole new leisure activity and family time too. You know how kids just love feeding ducks? This is much better.

The Blog Apologises...

... for intermittent service due to travel and family reasons. In the meantime

A little late for Palm Sunday, a reminder of Florida is in order. Yes I think those really are coconuts. Better not to stand underneath.