Thursday, 29 October 2015

Halloween (London)


I do one shift a week at the pub, and this is the time of year when I can safely say to customers dressed up for Halloween, “You look horrible!” and they like it!

(London, 2015)


The assertiveness of Americans 05


Part-heard (I was multi-tasking), Tuesday 27 October, an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Womans Hour with two famous women authors, one of whom is an American well-known for her novel which was “controversial for its portrayal of female sexuality” (Wikipedia).  

At one point, the American author mentioned a kinky sex scene in her new book, which features the word “pee”.  The interviewer nervously reminded her that it is half-term this week (with school children being at home on half-term holiday), which means they have to be careful about their language*.  Undeterred, the American author said, “But I think even people in half-term pee.”  (My impression is that the interviewer was nervous about the kinky sex scene description rather than the mere word “pee”.)

In spite of having been warned about needing to be prudent with her language, the American author went on to use the V-word (in female anatomy) a few minutes later, which sent the interview into a near fit, saying she (the interviewer) would be summoned before the big boss after the interview. 

This reminds me of the American mother of one of my flatmates during my final year at university.  She was turfed out of her flat for non-payment of rent, so he moved her into our flat.  One day, I found her tipping a pot of old stew into the toilet bowl.  When she saw the look of horror on my face, she said, “Why not?!?  You crap down it, don’t you?”

*Why, then, did they schedule, not to mention broadcast live (i.e., no censorship possible), an interview on such a delicate subject during half-term and with an American author who’s known for her outspoken views??


(London, 2015 and 1981)

The assertiveness of Americans 04


I heard this story some 30 years ago:

An American is walking around the campus of one of the Oxford University colleges.  He stops a passer-by, “Excuse me, can you tell me which direction the library is in?”  The passer-by says, in a posh British upper class accent, “My dear fellow, don’t you know you should never end a sentence with a preposition?”  The American thinks for a few seconds and says, “OK.  Excuse me, can you tell me which direction the library is in, asshole?”  


(Heard 1986)

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Quick response at dodging (London)


When I first started working at the pub, nearly three years ago now, a young crazy colleague Giacomo used to burst into song loudly at me, opera-fashion, whilst doing the floor (delivering/collecting plates and collecting glasses), “I LOVE YOU!”  At other times, he’d “attack” me from behind, in the style of Kato of Pink Panther fame, Inspector Clousseau’s sidekick, sometimes throwing in the sound effects as well.  On one such occasion, on my way to the kitchen, I managed to block a mini flying kick from him from behind, which was witnessed by a customer sitting at a high table in the corner.  The customer was impressed, “I saw that!  That was really quick response on your part!”

Nearly three years on, Giacomo has left, but my dodging instincts have not waned.  A few weeks ago, I was walking towards the kitchen when, last minute, I dodged a near-collision with Matt who had come up from behind.  He later commented on how fast my reaction had been.

I told Matt about Giacomo, adding that I don’t seem to have trouble with avoiding anything that moves.  It’s non-moving ones that I still collide with on a regular basis:  chairs, table corners, outstretched feet, bags left on the floor.  Anything that can be bumped into or tripped over, I will.  My foot will somehow find its way into the loop of a bag sitting innocently on the floor.

It’s Rugby World Cup at the moment, until the end of October, so the pub is filled with rugby fans before they go to Wembley.  Three Saturdays ago, a chap was sitting on the outside edge of one of the high tables with his four friends, on a high chair, so that his knee was on a level with my stomach.  I managed to walk straight into it.  All five men drew in a sharp breath, and expressed concern.  I laughed it off with, “That was a failed rugby tackle.  I must put in more practice.”

See also blog entry o-chyo-ko-chyo-i.


(London 2015)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Not seeing the wood for the trees (China)


The Chinese for this is: 见树不见林 jiàn shù bù jiàn lín / “see tree not see wood”

A white British student, Jackie, was walking along the road somewhere in south-west China with Pam, another white British fellow student of hers, when a local farmer came from the opposite direction leading a bovine.

The man asked Jackie, in Chinese, if she knew what the animal was.

Jackie answered, in Chinese, “水牛 (shuǐ niú / “water bovine”).

The man said, in Chinese, “黄牛 (huáng niú / “yellow bovine” / brown cow),” and went away laughing at her ignorance.

What amazes me is that the man had failed to notice that Jackie is not Chinese and is, therefore, not expected to speak Chinese at all.  Yet, he was tickled pink by the fact that she couldn’t tell a water buffalo from a brown cow.


(China, 2007)

You know you’re getting old when… : 3 (London)


...even visibly pregnant women (six months?) refuse your offer of a seat.

...even old men offer you their seat.


(London 2015)