Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Missing in Britain

There's a great guest post over at Smitten by Britain about the ten things Brits do better than Americans, according to Valerie. Coming to the end of my weeklong stay in London, a couple of things struck me as not being as good as the States. I'm usually fiercely loyal to my homeland, but I have to admit to really missing:

- bathrooms with plugs; and of course, the accompanying mirror - meaning that you can blow dry your hair standing up, at a proper angle. At my mother's house, I have to climb down the side of my bed, unplug all sorts of things, sit on the floor, lean a mirror against the wall, and then try to remain calm when faced with three double chins and gruesome shadows all over my face. Or I can use the hair dryer in her bedroom, but I still feel compelled to ask permission every time, and that's no way to live when you're in your 40s is it?

- fast service. Now, I'm not complaining about the service. I had a lovely chat with the man in Wimbledon post office yesterday. However, when I'm in a bit of a hurry, and I can't quite see what's taking up so much time (see previous post), it makes my head explode. I don't think a lot of British sales assistants make the connection between good customer service and them having a job, ie. if I don't like the service, I'm not coming back and your business will go down the toilet if everyone else does likewise.

- Wider roads. My mate Di is a great driver, don't get me wrong. However, I've forgotten how narrow London streets can be and I'm sure she's seen my foot slamming on the imaginary break on almost every car journey we've taken. Not good for the nerves. My road rage is bad enough in Chicago as it is.

- Less crowds. Now I know I'm in London, it's the summer and there are a lot of tourists, but come on! This pleace is heaving. I live in Chicago, which is another major touristy city, but I can't ever remember worrying about having a panic attack or not being able to breathe because of the crowds. Mind you, I was getting off the tube at Picadilly Circus, so I can't be too surprised that it was like, well, Picadilly Circus.

- Reasonable prices. I keep saying "How much?" Again, Chicago is one of the more expensive places to live in the USA, but London? I don't know how anyone can afford to live here. How did I survive for so long, or has the cost of living risen dramatically since then?

Don't worry, I'll post about the lovely things I saw and did here next.

17 comments:

  1. Ok, you get the award for the biggest blog laugh today!! Loved this (especially the hair drier scene). You must have been very contorted, however, to see anywhere near a double chin. Great post. Looking forward to the follow up.

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  2. So true. Especially 'how much???'. Try coming from Bosnia for that one. Small heart attack every time I buy anything here.

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  3. You should visit the country next time you are over. An hour North of the City and the only crowds are during the school run, A large handful of English cherries at the local market for £2 and well that's it really. Can't help you with the bathroom plug, or the service as our post office in the village has friendly chatty man running it. Oh, and the roads are country lanes with ditches deep enough to hide a combine tractor in.
    It's charming though, that counts for something!

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  4. I have to agree on the cost of living. I noticed the difference when I moved home from Chicago back to London, but now that I've been back home for the last 5 years, I've become acclimatised. I'm used to it and budget accordingly. But being in Chicago twice a year, I still get to enjoy the fast service.
    x

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  5. My lovely other half has panic attacks in London too- the crowds, the noise, the prices.... two nights and he wants to be away again.

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  6. Yeah..... we can be sadly lacking! But I am fiercely patriotic too. Not sure why at times!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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  7. I think you're pretty lucky in Chicago - because New York is JUST as crowded is London, the customer service isn't always brilliant (the post office here especially) and the roads are simply terrifying! Oh and it's not cheap either.

    Still think America's pretty great, though.....

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  8. I loved the description of you drying your hair. Marvelous stuff!
    I'm going home next year and always worry about driving. Still, it is nice to be able to park against traffic for a change.

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  9. Seriously, the web cam on the computer is brilliant for the hair thing. Best we can do over here!

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  10. NFAH - The web cam. Brilliant.

    Pam - I usually find that if I leave it for 24 hours, I'm pretty safe behind the wheel. The thing to remember is that you're always on the inside of the raod, ie. near the middle white line.

    Mother Hen - I think that's why I'm in shock. I usually spend a few days in Surrey, perhaps two trips into London, and then head up north for a bit of peace and quiet! This was a full week in London. Yikes. What a softie I am.

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  11. I feel a bit like about London now that I live far away, despite nearly 20 years of working there. I love it but it is so damn full!

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  12. SO lovely to finally meet you and you're right about all those things......Lx

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  13. Snigger...loving the description of you drying your hair. Quite a mental picture I have now (in both senses of the world).

    I miss Chicago. i worked there, off and on, for many years. I miss the wide sidewalks (see how I've got the lingo going), the lakeshore, the Swissotel (my second home). Everything actually. Send me a bit of Chicago would you? I thank you.

    x

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  14. Yep, you've described me to a tee trying to blowdry and style my hair! LOL

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  15. Or Albania, try coming from there. I can't believe how much I'm spenidng here just parking in car parks, going to a museum, buying a coffee etc. at least the resultant cold sweats are a welcome change from my usual 'hot flushes' but still......

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  16. It did not strike me how good the customer service in Britain was until we had bad service on the final two days there. For nearly a fortnight everyone had been wonderful but I did receive quite a snarky tone from the lady at the Stirling bus station when I asked her a question. Clearly she doesn't like her job. Then at Heathrow, the waitress threw a strop when we complained about failing to receive the extra bacon we payed for. How very un-English of me to complain! ;-)

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