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What Your Christmas Card Reveals

19 Dec

Christmas_Mailing_1921_0When I was a young girl growing up in Trenton (NJ), sending Christmas cards was a good citizen’s duty. Thanks to an overzealous mayor with good intentions but a serious drinking problem, mailing cards was actually required by law for most of my career as a child (which at least gave the ACLU something to do over the holidays). The tradition was less about Christmas itself and more about community building — reminding friends, family and neighbours that they were in our thoughts during the season of giving.

Sending holiday cards is a rather time consuming act, which explains why it has fallen out of favour these days. We live in a world where the only loved ones we’re willing to invest more than ten minutes at a time in are spouses and young children, and this is usually only done to preemptively build evidence for a subsequent divorce/custody court case. I confess that I myself have not sent cards this year; it’s not because I don’t care, because you know I do (especially about you, yes, you). Unfortunately, my address book includes more than two thousand entries and I’m conflicted about giving that much money to Royal Mail now that it’s been privatised (and last year Christopher sprained his tongue licking envelopes and I will not go through that trauma again).

However, there are still a few hold outs who maintain the tradition, and I say good on you. Nowadays, we have more options about the types of card that can be sent and the one you choose says quite a bit about you. You may think you’ve chosen the prettiest or the cheapest, but you are actually revealing some essential aspects of your self-identity. Let’s have a look.

EMAIL CARDS

These say you’re a modern person, you know how the Internet works and you’re not afraid to use it. However, this choice is also quite impersonal because it’s likely you’re copying and pasting the same message into every one you send. While I’m sure the recipients appreciate the thought, it’s bound to sting a little that to you they are clearly just a name on a distribution list. That’s especially hurtful to those out of whose body you came (according to my brother who received a rather spiteful voicemail message from my mother last week).

CARDS PURCHASED FROM CHARITIES

These say that you are a giving, compassionate person who, rather than volunteer your valuable time or make a substantial monetary donation, will only contribute to a charity’s work if you get something in return.

RELIGIOUS CARDS

These show that you are serious about the birth of Jesus Christ which implies one of two things: you are a Christian, which is fine, though you should be aware that these cards will probably not be on display on non-Christian fridges. I mean, think about it — would a good Christian like yourself hang up a Ramadan card with Mohammad’s face on it? (This is a trick question, by the way.) The other possibility is that you are a Fox News viewer/Daily Mail reader who is committed to fighting the war on Christmas. If this is the case, well done you. You’re a twat.

FUNNY CARDS

These show you don’t want to get all heavy during the holiday season. You hope to keep it light — give people a smile. You just want to share your sense of humour because you are a hilarious person. I mean, you’re really funny. Really. Why you’re still on your own, I don’t doubt you’ll never understand.

HOMEMADE CARDS

Fine, you’ve got artistic talent and the luxury of the funds to purchase supplies and the time to waste gluing crystals onto cardstock. Everyone is very envious of you and your charmed life.

FAMILY PHOTO CARDS

BradychristmasIf you’ve had an addition to your family this year (a baby, puppy, housekeeper, etc), it’s entirely appropriate to share a photo, especially with those people who live far away and have yet to meet the new family member. If you’re just showing off your newest plastic surgery results, it is significantly less appropriate.

ROUND ROBIN LETTERS

These, I’m afraid, never make you look good. They are impersonal and no matter how hard you try to make them seem otherwise, they are essentially just a Wikipedia entry for your experience this year. As such, they are likely to be awkwardly worded and full of inaccuracies. They are also usually typed out and no one should be sending typed letters to their loved ones: unless you’re sending a ransom note, you should take the time to hand write things. Cursive writing is preferable.

Of course, I’ve already received examples of all of these this year. I try to fireplacesee the positives in everything so I focus more on the fact that the senders have remembered me and less on the obvious flaws in their personalities. As the cards are delivered, I’ve hung each one along the windowsills, as my mother used to do. Unlike her, though, I do not plan to rip them all down in a drunken, bitter rage on Christmas Eve and throw them into the fire.

Twenty Six Years of Glory

12 May

Sir Alex FergusonWith the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson this week, everyone seems to be reminiscing about their incredible memories. I’d like to share one of mine now, though it’s got nothing to do with Man United because I couldn’t care less about it or him.

Many years ago, I was out shopping in a rather upscale store (I don’t want to give them any PR unless they are prepared to reimburse me for my trouble), when I was approached by a woman wearing incredibly large, round, black shades, who asked me for the time. Now you know that I am of the belief that sunglasses were meant to be worn outdoors (hence, the inclusion of the word “sun” in their name), but I was feeling generous so told her it was ten to eleven. She thanked me politely, and I headed over to the lingerie department, where I was known to frequently linger.

After a short time browsing, I glanced up and, through the brassieres, I saw the same woman. In any other circumstance, this would hardly be noticeable. However, this woman — she was staring a hole right through me. I don’t go looking for conflict, but I’m not afraid to meet it head on.

“Have you got some kind of problem?” I asked, moving my pocketbook to my left hand in case I needed to quickly pull the shiv from my garter.

“I was just wondering if I could ask you something,” she replied.

Keeping in mind I had already provided one answer to her (free of charge), I was not eager to continue to engage. However, my intrinsic good nature meant I had to oblige.

“I’m listening,” I said.

She pulled a notebook from her bag and approached me. She flipped through it, coming to a page that had a photograph taped to the top.

“Do you know this man?” she asked.

Now even at that age, I was well aware that that question is always a loaded one, so I took a quick peek and said no.

“Look again,” she insisted, pulling the picture from the page and holding it up to my face.

I took it from her. The man’s face was not what I call classically handsome but he wasn’t as ugly as some I’d slept with. He had a slight red tinge to his face, and I wondered why he was so cross about being photographed. Looking more closely into his eyes, though, I saw sadness, I saw pain. I saw a man whose dreams, despite his hard work and dedication, had yet to manifest.

“Nope, don’t know him.”

“You’re sure?”

“I’ve never been so sure” was my response (though I had been more sure of other things earlier many times).

She flipped over the page in her notebook and handed me a pen. “Would you be willing to sign here, indicating what you have just told me?”

The page had two columns: Yes and No. There were a number of names under each. I signed under No (I wrote “Miss Trixie Ruffles,” the alias I was using at that admittedly less subtle time).

She handed me a peppermint candy and walked away. I decided to end my shopping trip early. When I returned home, my mother asked me how things went, but I refused to mention this unusual encounter to her.

This morning I had a peppermint, which is what brought this memory to mind.

The Good are Good—The Bad, Frightfully Ugly

26 Feb

As I was born with a charitable nature, all my life I have sought to help those in need. I unselfishly give away the many unwanted gifts I receive each year to local charity shops to help increase their revenue.  I have donated my time to teach underprivileged children to read, offering up copies of my own books to them at an extremely generously reduced cost. I have traveled to faraway countries to help literally build new communities, and I can tell you there is nothing more rewarding than being present while someone christens a new sewer system. I buy a new poppy every single year, and I have no qualms about telling other shoppers in the queue at Sainsbury’s to shut the hell up if we happen to be waiting together  at eleven on Remembrance Day. I do these things not so I can then brag about them during lectures to the WI or on this very website. I do them because frankly that is just my nature: there’s no two ways about it, I am a good person.

Alas, we good people are becoming few and far between these days.  I don’t want to seem overly moralistic here, because I am aware that good people sometimes do bad things and that being bad once doesn’t necessarily make one a bad person. I do not believe in unfairly judging people.

At the same time, though, people seem to be up to some real evil-doing these days.  I’m dismayed by the crimes of all natures which I read about in the papers and the stupid choices politicians around the world seem to be making. Even in my own village, I witness my neighbour leaving his dog in his back garden all night, despite the cold and horrendous noises the creature makes and let’s not forget about the dressmaker who not only delayed the delivery of a dress by six days but when said dress was delivered, it clearly fell three inches below the owner’s knee as opposed to the two inches that had been requested.

bad peopleCan we really say that these are simply “bad acts” and not “bad people”? No. I think it’s high time we stand up and call a spade a shovel.

It used to be that those of us who were good were the norm; the bad people were a minority group easily identified by that evil little glint in their eye (and their tendency to drink publicly from bottles in paper bags). Those simple times are no more. Therefore, I have devised a quick test to determine where each of us stands.

Firstly, readers, I ask that you yourselves complete this straight forward assessment; you never know, you might actually be a bad person who is just so good at being bad that you have in fact fooled even yourself. You may then want to pass this out to those you come into contact with (especially those with whom you do financial or sexual trade). It is a simple way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

1. If you were angry with the woman who lived next door to you, would you:

a. Beat her with a shovel and bury her behind the shed before you went through her home, snatching anything that looked like it might be of value on the black market.

b. Complain about her loudly to both the postman and the woman who lives across the lane.

c. Paint a rude symbol on the pavement in front of her house.

d. Think to yourself, seeing as how she is an internationally famous writer and the highlight of your life is watching Countdown each day, perhaps she was right about it being your responsibility to maintain the creosote on the fence.

2. If you worked at a bank and a woman came in wanting to exchange her collection of two pound coins for newer, shinier two pound coins, would you:

a. Throw the bag of coins in her face, bruising her delicately rouged cheeks.

b. Point out to her that it is midday and the bank is very full of customers whose needs are apparently more important than hers.

c. Close your window.

d. Meet her request because it is nice to see someone who appreciates the aesthetic as well as monetary value of Her Royal Majesty’s mint.

3. If you lived in a small village and had a son or daughter under the age of sixteen, would you:

a. Feel comfortable allowing your child to enter the local shop without your own personal supervision.

b. Grant your child the privilege of riding a scooter, skateboard or public transport through the village.

c. Permit your child to call any adult by their Christian name.

d. Teach the kid to mind their manners and keep the hell away from my hydrangea.

Clearly, if you answered anything other than d, you are a bad person. The facts speak for themselves. Do some soul-searching and if you can’t manage to be rehabilitated and come over to the good side, please book into a prison immediately and get yourself the help you need.

In Praise of City Centres

10 Jan

I had the pleasure of escorting an American friend on a sightseeing trip today. He was traveling to Newcastle for a conference on the literary implications of nose-blowing, so I took the train up to meet him. Instead of hitting the usual tourist spots, we simply wandered around the City Centre before he nipped off to deliver his paper, Congestion in Nabokov’s Novels. (I unfortunately was unable to stay to hear his  fascinating research, but I’m sure it went down a storm).

One of the things he commented on was the exciting array of pedestrians in the City Centre. He took great pleasure in hearing apologies from the number of elderly ladies who ran over his feet with their shopping trolleys, and he was particularly impressed with the teenagers pushing their babies’ prams, dodging the dedicated charity workers desperately harassing the early morning shoppers in the name of a good cause. While he was slightly less thrilled by the young lad taking the piss in front of McDonalds (I mean this, unfortunately, literally), he had to laugh at the good-natured way said lad dealt with the restaurant’s manager who attempted to shoo him from the premises. He even maintained his smile as he gave his witness statement to the police.

City CentreI do love showing my American friends around English city centres. They are such hot beds of activity, so much of it so very English. I myself still adore wandering through the markets; their mystery I initially approached as a novelty, but even after this long, I do my best to support as many stalls as I can. This may explain why I have a cupboard full of striped knee socks and bags of outdated, non-brand-name crisps which will never see the light of day. But I feel I’ve done my part to support my community by purchasing them, and that’s all a citizen can do.

The other thing I love about city centres is the great pride people take in them. The pedestrian areas are clean; litter seems to immediately be snatched up by the thoughtful and conscientious beggars who then feed it to their dogs. What community spirit! While we have to face the fact that city centres often do have problems, I am so chuffed when I see locals taking an active stand about the unfortunate but sadly inevitable crimes that often take place in urban areas. I take my feathered hat off to the commitment these men and women make to maintaining their municipal duties.

City centres often get negative press but I, for one, find them absolutely delightful. I would happily spend a day wandering any English city centre, as long as I can get out of there before dark. I’d kill myself before I went into a city centre at night. I have civic pride, but I’m not a fucking idiot.

Has Shirley Jackson Taught Us Nothing?

18 May

In an effort to drum up business, Camelot has completed research on what new millionaires spend their money on. They interviewed one hundred of these big winners and charted their responses in this picture:

Your money paid for this picture.

I am not against playing the Lottery. I think it’s sweet to pay a pound to play a game of chance—presuming that pound isn’t earmarked for food for your family, what’s the harm, I say? However, I am extremely distressed by the choices these people are making once their prize money arrives.

If you have money, you should use it to make your life happier. However, these purchases are not about more joyful lives; they’re about other people’s perceptions.

For example, putting a hot tub into your house: stupid. In reality, wealthy people do not have hot tubs in their houses because it’s a well-known fact that hot tubs are disasters. They breed disease; they leak, doing serious damage to weight-bearing walls; and hot tubs are cited in more divorce proceedings than manufacturers care to admit. Quite frankly, nothing should be done in tubs besides bathing.  If you want to have sex in water, do it in the ocean like everyone else does.

Seventeen per cent have snooker tables (which I’m assuming they have put in their so-called games rooms). These are also silly. Winners don’t enjoy snooker; no one does. I think you’ll find that these rooms and the games in them are only for show; the owners think they portray a life of leisure, but they do not. Within weeks, the baize will be stained by coffee cup rings and no one but no one will be bothered in the slightest.

The only reason gyms exist in the first place is so that unfit people can claim they are too busy to go to them, so putting one in your home blows that excuse for your fatness out of the water.  Think about it, people.

The bar doesn’t surprise me but it does concern me. Here’s the thing about recreational drinking: to do it, you need a glass, ice and liquor. You do not need a bar or bar stools to enjoy a refreshing G & T. Bars are places where horny businessmen, depressed alcoholics and off duty policemen meet to pretend that their misery is normal; why anyone would want to put a place like that into their own home is beyond me.

A home cinema? An electric gate? Your numbers come up and all of a sudden you’re Phil Spector?

If you do get lucky in the lottery tonight, do yourself a favour and make better choices than your predecessors. Invest your winnings wisely. Do some travelling. Set aside enough savings. Fund a number of charitable organisations. Use the money to make your life and the lives of other happier and more fulfilled.

And for god’s sake, don’t be stingy with your love: get a cat and a dog. Otherwise it means you’re racist.

Today Is A Sunday

18 Mar

For some, it’s the end of the week. For some, it’s the beginning. For me, today is a Sunday. A normal Sunday.

Why?

Because I have the good sense to choose men and birth control wisely. Because I am more than a uterus and because I despise children’s voices.

If today means something different to you, have a good one.

Divided By A Common Language, Part One

1 Feb

It’s time.

Despite being an internationally respected woman and writer, I still get some grief about “speaking American.” Guess what? I’m American so, to those people I say, duh. But I’m British, too, so I also say fuck off, you twat.

However, in the spirit of being more welcoming, I’ve decided to supply a British-American dictionary for my less worldly readers. Here’s the first section.

But I’m telling you right now: I don’t want any quibbles. I don’t speak for all Americans. I don’t speak for all Brits. I only speak for myself: Agatha Whitt-Wellington. Got it?

A

Abattoir:  Slaughterhouse
Abseiling:  Rappeling
Abroad:  Overseas
Accelerator:  Gas pedal
Action Man:  G.I. Joe
Accumulator (bet): Parlay
Advert:  Commercial
A&E, casualty:  ER (emergency room)
Aerial:  Antenna
Aeroplane: Airplane
Alight: Get off
Aluminium: Aluminum
Alsatian:  German Shepherd
Angry: Mad, pissed off
Anti-clockwise: Counter-clockwise
Articulated lorry, juggernaut: Semi, tractor trailer, big rig, 18-wheeler
Arse:  Ass
Athletics: Track and field
Aubergine:  Eggplant
Automatic (car): Standard
Autumn:  Fall

B

Backhander: Kickback
Bagsie: Dibs
Balaclava:  Ski mask
Bang to rights: Dead to rights
Bank holiday: National holiday
Bap, cob: Hamburger bun
Barrister:  Trial lawyer
Bath: Bathtub
Bedsit: Studio apartment
Beefburger:  Hamburger
Beermat: Coaster
Behind: In back of
Benefits:  Welfare
Bespoke:  Tailor made, custom made
Bill: Check
Bin: Wastebasket, garbage can, trash can
Bin liner: Garbage bag, trash bag
Biro: Pen
Biscuits: Cookies
Bloke, chap, lad: Man, guy
Bogie, bogey: Booger
Boiled sweets: Hard candy
Bonnet: Hood
Booking: Reservation
Boot:  Trunk
Bottle: Moxie
Braces:  Suspenders
Break (school): Recess
Boiler (central heating): Furnace
Box (men’s athletic protection): Cup
Bum bag: Fanny pack
Bungalow: Single-storey house
Bum: Butt, booty, fanny
Burgle: Burglarize

C

Call box: Phone booth
Candy floss: Cotton candy
Car park: Parking lot
Canteen: Cafeteria
Caravan: Trailer, camper, RV
Caretaker: Janitor
Car boot sale: Yard/garage sale
Car side lights: Parking lights
Car wing: Fender
Catapult:  Sling-shot
Cellar: Basement
Cheeky: Ornery (cheeky monkey=ornery critter)
Chemist: Pharmacy, drugstore
Cheque: Check
Chips: French fries
Chuffed: Happy
City centre: Downtown
Cladding: Siding
Clean your teeth:  Brush your teeth
Cling film: plastic wrap, Saran wrap™
Coach: Bus, Greyhound™
Condom: Rubber
Consultant doctor:  Specialist
Cooker: Oven, stove
Coriander: Cilantro
Cotton: Thread
Cotton bud: Q-Tip™
Cotton wool: Cotton balls
Courgette:  Zucchini
Crash (a car): Wreck (used as a verb and noun)
Crisps: Potato chips
Crumpet: English muffin
Current account:  Checking account  

D

Daddy long legs: Crane fly
Daft, thick:  Stupid, dumb
Diagonal: Catacorner
Digger: Backhoe
Dinner jacket:  Tuxedo
Diversion: Detour
Doctor’s surgery: Doctor’s office
Dodgems: Bumper cars
Draughts:  Checkers
Drawing pin: Tack
Dressing gown: Robe
Dual-carriageway: Divided highway
Dummy: Pacifier, binky
Dustbin: Trash can
Dustcart: Garbage truck
Dustman: Garbage man
Duvet:  Comforter

E

Engaged (phone): Busy
Estate (inner city):  The projects
Estate (area of new houses): Sub-division
Estate (car): Station wagon
Estate agent: Real estate agent
Ex-directory: Unlisted

F

Fag: Cigarette
Fag end: Cigarette butt
Fairy cake:  Cupcake
Fairy lights:  Christmas lights
Fancy: Like
Fancy dress party: Costume party
Fanny: Pussy (sounds somewhat cruder, doesn’t it?)
Father Christmas: Santa Claus
Fire brigade: Fire department
First, second, third, fourth year (at university & high school): Freshman, sophomore, junior, senior
Fishfingers:  Fishsticks
Flannel: Washcloth
Flask: Thermos
Flat:  Apartment
Flyover:  Overpass
Football:  Soccer
Football boots:  Cleats
Footpath: Trail
Freephone: Toll-free
Fringe: Bangs
Frying pan: Skillet
Full stop:  Period

G

Gammon: Ham steak
Gangway: Aisle
Garden: Yard
Gear stick (car): Stick shift
Gherkin:  Pickle
Give way:  Yield
Gear lever:  Gear shift
Glove box: Glove compartment
Gobsmacked: Surprised
Goose pimples: Goose bumps
Grease-proof paper:  Waxed paper
Green fingers: Green thumb
Grill: Broil
Ground floor: First floor

H

Hair slide: Barrette
Hand bag: Purse
Hand brake: Parking brake
Hash (#): Pound sign
Headmaster / mistress:  Principal
Hen night:  Bachelorette party    
High Street:  Main Street
Hire: Rent
Hob: Stovetop
Holiday: Vacation
Homely: Homey (homely actually means ugly, so watch yourself)
Hosepipe: Hose
Hundreds and thousands: Sprinkles

I

Iced lolly:  Popsicle™
Icing sugar: Powdered sugar
Identity parade: Police line-up
Indicators (car):  Turn signals
Inverted commas: Quotemarks

J

Jacket potato:  Baked potato
Jam:  Jelly (as in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches)
Jelly:  Jell-O™
Joiner:  Carpenter
Jumper:  Sweater
Jump leads: Jumper cables
Junction (motorway): Exit

K

Kit (sports, camera, etc.):  Gear
Kitchen roll: Paper towels
Knickers:  Panties, underwear
Knuckle dusters:  Brass knuckles

L

Ladder (tights): Run
Ladybird:  Ladybug
Lager:  Beer
Launderette:  Laundromat
Lay-by:  Rest area
Lead (dog):  Leash
Leads (electrical): Cords
Lemonade: 7-Up™, Sprite™
Let: Rent
Letter box: Mail box
Level crossing: Railroad crossing
Lie-in: Sleep-in
Lift: Elevator
Lift (give someone a lift): Ride
Lodger: Boarder
Loo, Toilet: Bathroom, restroom
Loogie: Goober, hocker (goobers are also chocolate covered peanuts)
Loft: Attic
Lollipop: Lollipop, sucker
Lollipop lady:  Crossing guard
Lorry: Truck
Lorry driver: Truck driver, trucker
Lot (material items): Bunch
Lounge, sitting room: Living room.
Love bite: Hickey

M

Manager (sports): Coach
Managing director:  CEO (Chief Executive Officer)
Mange tout: Snow peas
Mannequin: Dummy
Manual (car): Stick, stick shift
Mate: Friend, buddy, pal, chum
Maths: Math
Megaphone: Bullhorn
Mileometer:  Odometer
Mince (meat): Ground meat
Mobile library: Bookmobile
Mobile phone:  Cell phone, cellular phone
Motorway: Highway, expressway
Mum:  Mom
 

To be continued….

Divided By A Common Language, Part Two

31 Jan

N

Nappy: Diaper
National: Federal
National Insurance number: Social Security number
Newsagent: Newsstand
Newsreader:  Anchorman, anchorwoman
Nick (verb): Steal, rob
Nick (noun): Prison, state pen, slammer, big house
Nil: Nothing, zero
Nought: Zero
Noughts and Crosses: Tic-Tac-Toe
Note (money): Bill
Number plates: License plates

O

OAP: Senior citizen
Off-licence: Liquor store (also available as a drive-thru)
Off-roader: SUV (sport utility vehicle)
Off-the-peg: Off-the-rack
Operating theatre: Operating room
Overtake: Pass

P

Pants (y fronts): Underwear, briefs, shorts
Paraffin: Kerosene
Parking brake: Emergency brake
Patience (card game): Solitaire
Pavement:  Sidewalk
Pay in: Deposit
Pay packet: Pay check
Pay rise: Pay raise
P.C. (Police Constable): Police Officer
P.E. class: Gym class
Pelican, zebra crossings: Pedestrian crossing
Petrol:  Gas
Piles: Hemorrhoids
Pitch (sports):  Field
Plait (hair): Braid
Plaster (bandage):  Band-Aid™
Plaster (walls): Drywall
P.M.T.: P.M.S. (it’s a proper syndrome in America, not just a bit of tension)
Pocket money (child’s):  Allowance
Poorly:  Sick
Pop socks: Knee-high’s
Post: Mail
Post box: Mailbox  (flag up to indicate you have something to be picked up)       
Post code: Zip code
Post-Mortem: Autopsy
Potholing, caving:  Spelunking
Powercut: Power outage
Pram:  baby carriage, buggy
Prawn: Shrimp
Press-up:  Push-Up
Pressurise: Pressure
Propstand (push bike): Kickstand
Pub: Bar
Public school: Private school
Pudding, sweets, afters:  Dessert
Pull: Pick up, score
Puncture (tyre): Flat
Pushchair:  Stroller
Push bike: Bike, bicycle

Q

Queue: Line
Quid: Buck (slang for a dollar)

R

Randy: Horny
Rasher (bacon):  Slice
Redundant: Laid-off
Register: Roster
Return (journey): Round-trip
Reverse (a car, etc.):  Back up
Reverse charges: Collect call
Revision: Study, cram
Ring (on phone):  Call
Roadworks: Construction
Rocket (vegetable): Arugula
Roundabout: Traffic island
Row: Argue, fight, quarrel
Rubber:  Eraser
Rubbish (refuse): Garbage, trash
Rude: Risqué

S

Sack (get the sack): Fired
S.A.E:  S.A.S.E (self addressed stamped envelope)
Saloon (car):  Sedan
Sand pit (children’s):  Sand box
Sello™ tape: Scotch™ tape
Semi-detached: Duplex
Semi-skimmed milk:  Lowfat, 2% milk
Serviette: Napkin
Settee:  Sofa, couch
Shaving foam:  Shaving cream
Shop:  Store
Shopping trolley:  Shopping cart
Silencer (car):  Muffler
Single ticket:  One-way
Solicitor: Lawyer, attorney
Sorbet:  Sherbert
Skint: Broke
Skip: Dumpster
Skive: Play hooky
Sledge:  Sled
Sleeper (rail):  Railway tie
Slip road: On-ramp, off-ramp
Slowcoach:  Slowpoke
Smock (dress): Jumper
Snog: Make out
Spanner: Wrench
Spirits: Liquor
Stabilisers (child’s bike): Training wheels
Stag night: Bachelor party
Starter: Appetizer
Static caravan: Mobile home
Strop, wobbly: Hissy fit   
Study: Den
Sub-contract: Outsource
Supply teacher: Substitute teacher
Surname: Last name
Suspenders:  Garter belt
Swear: Cuss
Swede:  Rutabaga
Sweets:  Candy
Swimming costume: Swim suit, swimming trunks, bathing suit

T

Takeaway:  Takeout
Tannoy: Loudspeaker
Tap: Faucet, spigot
Tarmac: Pavement, asphalt, blacktop
Teat (baby bottle): Nipple
Tea towel: Dish towel
Telly: TV
Tetchy: Touchy
Thousand million: Billion
Tick: Check, checkmark
Ten-pin bowling: Bowling
Till: Cash register
Tin (of food):  Can
Tip:  Dump
Tipp-X™: Wite-out™ 
Toilet, loo: Bathroom, restroom, john
Toilet roll: Toilet paper
Torch: Flashlight
Touch wood: knock on wood
Tout (tickets): Scalp
Towbar: Trailer hitch
Trainers: Sneakers, tennis shoes
Tramp: Bum, hobo
Treacle: Molasses
Trousers: Pants, trousers
Tumble dryer: Dryer 

V

VAT:  Sales tax
Verucca: Plantar wart
Vest: Tank top
Video: VCR

W

Waistcoat:  Vest
Walking (country): Hiking
Wardrobe:  Closet
Washing up: Dishwashing
Wellies: Rubber boots, galoshes
Whinge: Whine
Windcheater: Windbreaker
Windscreen: Windshield
Whatsit: Doohickey, thingamabob
Write-off (car): Total

Z

Zebra crossing, pelican crossing: Crosswalk
Zimmerframe: Walker
Zip: Zipper
 

Some of these words are familiar to my readers, whether they are British or American or Other. I don’t doubt you’ve heard many of them on television or in films. So why, may I ask, is it so difficult for you to understand them when they come out of my mouth? Well, you can plead ignorance no more. Thanks to the time and effort I’ve taken to enlighten both my countries’ citizens, I’m certain that US/UK relations will improve.

And as we say in all types of English, you’re welcome.

How To Beat Blue Monday

16 Jan

Today is Blue Monday, which is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. Of course, there is some logic to back up this claim. The formula is:

So, according to the science boffins (at Sky Travel, mind you), 16 January 2012 will be the most depressing day of this year. I was surprised that this year didn’t lead to a slightly different conclusion, what with the world predicted to end and all (which I would’ve assumed might lead to a slight dip in happiness levels), but whatever.

You know me, I never argue with science—especially when it’s used to advertise a Murdoch media organ—so I guess, facts is facts, and today we’re all depressed.  Therefore, I’d like to offer a couple helpful suggestions to get you through.

You see what I’ve done here? It’s called satire.

1. This year, Blue Monday is also Martin Luther King Jr Day in America. Perhaps it would cheer you up to remember how far we’ve come with eliminating racism and making it safe to peacefully protest.

2. Get some rest, eat right, take some exercise and remember that whatever is wrong in your life is no worse today than it will be tomorrow.

I suppose if you’re struggling today, you could always try to distract yourself until midnight. Snuggle up with a copy of The Sun or The Wall Street Journal, maybe watch a show on Fox or a film you’ve saved on Sky+.  Rupert Murdoch’s going to get your money one way or another, so give in to Blue Monday and do as you’re told.

Service With A Smile

11 Dec

No doubt this month you’ve been faced with a queue of some sort. Perhaps you were posting your holiday cards or getting a flu shot or purchasing a gift for a person you admire (note: my ring size is 4.5). You were probably annoyed by having to wait and when you finally got service, you were expecting a little compassion from the person behind the counter. After all, you’re a busy, important person and your time is valuable. If a service provider makes you wait, the least they can do is apologise, right?

I’m afraid I am unable to back you up on this one. As you know, I greatly admire manners and would love to be greeted with a smile by everyone who serves me. However, I also believe in keeping things in perspective.

Just for a moment, consider that person who is serving you. How’s their day going? While standing in line waiting to buy something is a pain, standing at the till ringing up other people’s purchases isn’t a barrel of laughs, you know. Of course, they’re probably being paid to do so (though undoubtedly not very well), but is pretending their life revolves around you and your happiness part of their job description? If in the end, you got my ring (I hope you remembered I prefer baguette rather than pear-shaped), the transaction’s been successful whether or not the clerk smiled at you or wished you a merry Christmas.

The run-up to December 25 can be stressful. If you can, make a smile part of all your public interactions. But if you don’t get one in return, try to be understanding. After all, it can be very tiring autographing book after book, and even the most sophisticated of authoresses can sometimes become frustrated. I’m sorry I kicked your child’s shin, but you got your book and isn’t that what you actually came out for?

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