Saturday, January 24, 2009

The "Me' Interview

Brit Gal Sarah sent me five interview questions last week, which I have been mulling over. Here are the answers.

1.How did you meet the ball and chain and did you ever consider him moving to the UK, was it a hard decision to emigrate for you?

I “met” the B&C before he even appeared in the UK. I was working in HR for a huge (now dead) firm of accountants, and had him scheduled as an incoming American. Trouble was, the “incoming” bit kept getting delayed, and so by the time he finally materialized, I was well and truly pissed off with him in a professional capacity.
The next time I “met” him, I was seated next to him at a company dinner at the Savoy. We were getting on “famously” when he suddenly asked me to take care of his wallet, and disappeared. Next thing I know, he was stripping down to basketball gear on stage to do a rap about American expats in London. (Sadly no video).
Fast forward a year and a half, and because we wouldn’t normally have been getting engaged, we split up and he went back to the US. He kept coming back to England every 3 weeks because of client commitments, so we met for drinks “as friends”. He then invited me over to Dallas in the September, and I met all his friends (nothing formal, you understand), then he came over to England in November, and proposed the night he went back. (Hence no engagement ring, but diamonds in my wedding ring, and on the soles of my shoes.)
We were secretly married in Dallas by a Justice of the Peace on Dec 31 1989 just to get the paperwork going, and then “formally” in Parsons Green, followed by a reception at the Hurlingham Club in April, 1990. I really didn’t think too much about the move as I’d always “known” I would live abroad for a while. We must have just assumed I would move here as I can't remember discussing it.

2. How long have you lived in the USA, what do you miss the most apart from people in the UK and what do like best about living here?

I’ve lived in the US since May 1990. I miss a lot of things about the UK but it changes every year, so I think the biggest thing I miss is my frame of reference. I can’t make jokes about things I grew up with, and although I’m learning every day about American things, there’s always something I don’t relate to.
I like fact that even in freezing Chicago, you are guaranteed a good summer. The weather in England, especially recently, can be diabolical. I go to England every summer, and last year it rained every day but one during my 4 week stay. Grrr.

3. Had you written anything before 'Rules Britannia', or did the idea for it, motivate you to write?

I had written a few paid articles before ‘Rules, Britannia’ came out, but I think that was on the strength of my publishing deal. I am really bad at publicizing my writing so most of what I have written has been after that. (On a side note however, not to put anyone else off, I find the work you have to put into sending a proposal to a magazine is more than the work put into the article itself. I’d much rather invest the time in a book proposal.)

I never set out to write a book in the first place (although you always have a dream.) Seriously, almost as soon as I moved to the US, people began to ask me questions about the UK on behalf of relatives and neighbors. Being the helpful (firstborn) that I am, I quickly amassed notes. Then, when a friend moved to England a few years later I really cranked out the material and handed her 40 pages. She said “Wow, this is a book”. It still took me about two more years to even consider it, and there you go.

4. What's the best thing about living in Chicago?

It’s a very vibrant city and not too big. I live near Lincoln Park, which is the parkland that goes all the way up the lake Michigan shoreline. I also live within walking distance of the kids’ school, a free zoo, Michigan Avenue shops and the beach. The people are very grounded and friendly. (Oops, that’s more than one thing.)

5. Apart from people or pets, what is your most prized possession and why?

I've had too much happen in my life to be into 'possessions', but if I had to name something it would probably be the ring my dad made me when I was little. It's a sixpence, which he soldered onto a silver band. It just about fits my little finger now, but he died when I was twenty so I would be devasted if I lost it.

OK, so here are the instructions:

1. If you want to be interviewed, leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions and let me know when you have posted it, so I can link it.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview
someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask
them five questions.

Have fun.



  1. Great answers Toni, thanks for joining in and oh my I wish there was a video of the rap LOL! We may get to meet sometime, as Chicago is on my list of places for a break.

  2. Great interveiw. You made up for all the things you couldn't get in last Tuesday ;)

  3. Great questions from Sarah, and interesting to find out more about you.

  4. Very interesting and, yes, what MikeH said too! (But I still like the sound of your voice, and now I can subvocalise as I read). Oh. go on then... interview me.

  5. Yes, very interesting. Chicago sounds great.

  6. I relate to everything you said about Chicago, having also moved here in 1990. Never thought that almost 9 years later I would still be here...was meant to be 2 years max. And the frame of reference comment is sooo true. Never being able to quote blackadder and being completely in the dark about the constant references to Seinfeld drove me bonkers to start with!

  7. Really great!
    And, also being an expat, I totally relate to not having a frame of reference or being able to joke about the things I grew up with... kind of makes us feel like we don't belong anywhere anymore eh?! X

  8. Excelllent question from sarah. So interesting how you and the hubs met!

    Ahh chicago. I love chicago. if you have to be somewhere else, chicago is a good one to pick.

  9. that was an interesting read epm. I liked the moment when he left his wallet with you!

  10. I saw the original post on Sarah's blog and thought about "playing along" but was being a bit shy--but you've convinced me to have a go so please transmit five questions to me! If you don't have my email please leave a comment on the about page and I can send it to you.

  11. I'll play. Interview me.

    I have a cousin who lives in Chicago so I'm always interested to hear what you think of it.
    About the book- it's funny how life presents you these little opportunities. All you have to do is be open enough to act on it and see where it takes you.

  12. That was good -- I really enjoyed it and yeah, go on then! I'll play too! Interview me.

  13. Very interesting. Definitely still up for that beer in the Summer providing you do come back to old Blighty again. (Yes...the Summers have been rubbish since 2006. Please God we have a good one this year!!

  14. Will also definitely read your book before we meet up. BTW did you ever tackle the pronunciation of "Beaulieu" or mention the place "Pity Me" in your book? (I'll have to read it to find out - won't I? ;) ) I reckon there would be a whole book on weird UK pronunciations and place names :)

  15. HT - Yes, in the first chapter (I think) I list loads of places and how to pronounce them I think I may have missed Beaulieu though!

  16. did you put cowpen in and fenwick, keswick and berwick?
    good interview. satisfied the nosey parker in me.

  17. mum, put me out of my abject misery and just confirm that you and mike were definitely in two different countries and not holding hands under the table, would you? :-( x

  18. Ha ha Billy. I think Mike deserved to have someone holding his hand as he spent the whole time defending his country AND they weren't very polite to him at all. But no, I did my bit with a very nice sound lady at the resonable hour of 6pm, whereas Mike had to stay up really, really late.

  19. Oh go on Expatmum, I want in on this egocentric game! Interview me!! X

  20. The idea that I really can learn something new every day, coupled with my inexplicable nosiness which appears to have been passed on to my gorgeous daughter, made this a real "page turner". I grew up the child of an expat so am always fascinated to hear why people move where they move....fascinating stuff.

    [whispers- would be as delighted to be interviewed as I was to read.}

  21. I love the expat meeting stories. I had a similiar one, working together from afar and not being too impressed.

    I also miss a common ground of childhood memories -- no one here knows the advert "My bolonga has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R, my blogna has a second name, it's M-A-Y-E-R..."

  22. Hi Expat Mum,

    thought you would be amused to see the below, which I noticed in this weekend's Observer. Doesn't mention you specifically but talks about relevant contributors!

    Interesting to find out more about you as well!

  23. great interview. Thanks Expat. I always love reading about how people met their partners/husbands/lovers..x

  24. sorry, me again. Also loved how you never discussed you moving out there and it was just assumed!

  25. That was brilliant, I loved reading it. What a great idea.

  26. Ooh, it seems you have tempted me out of lurkdom. If it isn't too late to play do please send me some questions.


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