1. Drinking. It’s easily accessible, everywhere, inexpensive and acceptable. I truly enjoy going for drinks with friends, silly talk all around and just casual drinking. Most of the (young) English crowd is far too ummm….youthful in a way I was never and sort of envy at times. Most non-high end pubs are frequented by the loud, obnoxious, humiliatingly intoxicated youths. Whilst it can bring about many eye-rolls it’s great for me, because drinking in the UK is not a high end experience. I can go walk down the street when my day is rounding up to just “be” and enjoy a few beers, ciders (ok I really really like that Ciders are readily available in most places vs. say in the US where it’s still up and coming) and just round out the evening. Having drinks is not a “see and be seen” like in many many other places but an every-man’s experience.
2. Curry. I absolutely love a great Indian curry, it is without a doubt my all-time craving food. I like it from any simple, street corner, takeaway only (sometimes because you really cant stand the thought of “dining” in such a place)and as spicy as I can get it. Also lamb, great lamb curry, perhaps any lamb. Why is great curry (and lamb) less readily consumed in the US and Asia?
3. Fashion. This applies to two fronts. One is the wide array of international styles around London that one will encounter. Mostly I mean the other side of things, my girlish vanity enjoys the UK. While I may be far less self-conscious than most women, I do appreciate how great English girls make me feel. (Gosh, here I think thank goodness I have so little traffic on this blog that I’ll not get verbally beaten for this comment). For example, Korea has about the most beautiful (and I do mean beautiful) flawless, impeccably feminine women with perfect hair and perfect (never over done but always always “done”) makeup. The German, Swiss, Swedish, etc girls are more put-together. They may not do mostly high heels, stockings and carefully selected jewelry and accessories for a coffee and grocery run, but the walking boots and jeans are always well-fitted and well kept, the hair oftentimes more cared for. American girls are casual, very casual and there’s a wide difference between different regions of course but in the UK I can run to Tescos in track pants, an oversized sweatshirt, hair still wet from the shower and there’d be many women in less fitting sweats perhaps not even clean. Going out in the evenings to a lovely restaurant or bar, there’s a section of women always very “primped,” they’ve likely spent hours doing up the hair and makeup and squeezing into dresses bought recently that never fit quite well. The majority of English women do not appear like they feel good in their skin, and it shows. The benefit is it doesn’t make me feel like the ugly duckling or Steinbeck’s clumsy Lenny.
4. Civility. Each culture has it’s own version of civility I suppose. Years ago I encountered a number of occasions where people asked me why I kept saying “sorry.” It doesn’t mean I take responsibility for being the A and took action B to cause consequence C onto You! I have a challenge explaining the sometimes (I don’t think too frequent) tip-of-the-tongue courtesy when you lean a bit over someone to shout across a noisy bar or as we bough squeeze by a narrow lane or sometimes in place of “pardon/excuse me.” Also people are generally nicer in a homey fashion, not as overboard as the American Southern states may be (which is also enjoyable) certainly not comparable in way of small talk (Americans can out small-talk anyone in my opinion). Also “sorry” is used in leading up to a (often times very common, reasonable request of someone). I would say something like “Oh sorry! I’m afraid you may have mistaken my coat for yours” instead of many more direct cultural ways such as “Hey you! Grow some eyes, that’s mine, this one here’s yours!”
5. Tea. I picked up Fifty Shades when it began making all the headlines. I was fascinated, what was this best selling fiction of all time (out selling all fiction novels in the world, combined in 2013)? My takeaway from that? Quite vividly, I recall the protagonist preferring her Twinings breakfast tea weak (just dig the bag in the water and right out again). I can’t give you a play by play of the bedroom scenes but I do recall how she’d request her tea. It’s terrible. I actually don’t care for any particular brand but I do love black breakfast tea, I like it heavy (from a distance perhaps the blackness could be mistaken for coffee). I like it as heavy and strong and basic. The whole delicate “tea culture” coming out recently (wander through any American shopping mall and you’ll come across the new-age high end tea shops ready to compete with the starbucks but with a hippie appeal). To tell me there’s 185 varieties your shop carries, this with a hint of rose bud and the jasmine green picked by hands of virgins served only in clay wrought from tibetan monks to be only X temperature blah blah blah….I like my tea Irish. Quite sincerely, I’ve not yet found many places where I can even get decent English Tea, black. Perhaps Ms. Steele had to conserve her strength for the bedroom and had stamina left for real tea.