In case you hadn’t noticed my wife is an American and has been living in this country for over six years now. She first came here as a student to learn some Welsh, then to do her Masters, and then she married me. She’s working on becoming a citizen of the UK and is very settled here.
There are a few things though that she didn’t experience of course. The tuck shop at school, Blue Peter, doing roly-polies in gymnastics (badly in my case), Mr Blobby. Bit by bit over the years we’ve been together (coming up on our fourth anniversary!) we’ve been comparing and contrasting the way we were brought up, popular culture we were brought up with and the things that didn’t make it across the pond either way.
Some things really shock me, because they are so ingrained in my life, as a child and an adult, I can’t imagine not having them. Some things confuse me because why the hell wouldn’t you have these things?
So let’s look at the list.
When we tell people this, the reaction is the same as mine – what do you sleep in? – and the answer is quilts apparently. Quilts and sheets. No duvets, no duvet covers, just quilts. I get it, you can layer them up according to the weather or the season but still, I’m still left a little confused. How the hell do you wash them? I mean, most of the quilts I have wouldn’t fit into my washing machine. Even if they did, they wouldn’t fit in my dryer – but that’s okay cause you can dry outdoors in some of that lovely hot American weather. Right?
2. Washing Lines.
Wrong! Apparently washing lines are against a lot of local laws. No, really, washing lines. Please, fill up your garden with as many American Flags as you can possibly can but they better not be wet or all hell will let loose. Do you know how wasteful that is? When I was in New Jersey in the summer most of my laundry would’ve burnt to a crisp in the time it takes my socks to dry outside here. Assuming it’s not raining of course. But no, everyone’s using tumble dryers.
3. Hot water bottles
As well as getting really hot, it also gets really cold in America. I’ve seen the news, I’ve seen the blizzards, that stuff is cold. No one thought a hot water bottle would be nice? We use those things from September to April in our bed, my feet are like ice most of the time. I have people coming into the pharmacy all year around asking after hot water bottles.
4. Jaffa Cakes
In Britain, we’ve spent long hours debating whether Jaffa cakes are cakes are biscuits. Apparently finding them in the biscuit aisle and eating them with a cup of tea confuses people into thinking they’re a biscuit. I don’t think there is anything more British than a court case ruling over the VAT of a Jaffa Cake. This is what you’re missing out on! Also, they’re delicious and disappear quickly.
This is the biggest one for me. You don’t have custard? Most of my diet during Primary School was custard based. Most of my diet would be custard based now if I had my way. Custard goes with everything. Sometimes in school, pudding was custard with a blob of jam in it and every other pudding was with custard. Custard goes with pie, cake, puddings, trifles, itself. I’ve worked out that the optimum amount of custard per adult is two-thirds of a can of Ambrosia Devon Custard – roughly 266g. That’s how much I love custard.
This one is obvious but you’re totally missing out on some excellent sport. It’s never going to be popular in America, not while American Football is a thing, but Rugby is so, so much better. It’s not corrupted by money, there’s no standing around and there’s no half time show. It’s eighty minutes of massive blokes running around after a ball and beating the crap out of themselves and each other and bleeding all over the place. I used to say it was like American Football but without the padding, but it’s so much more than that. So much better too.
7. Comedy Panel Shows.
In Britain, we have a few comedy panel shows I mean shows like Have I Got News For You, 8 out 10 Cats and Mock The Week. Programmes that take the piss out the week’s news, make fun of politicians and famous people and the other panellists and make jokes about anything and everything else slightly related (and unrelated). It’s weird not to have these sort of shows when they’re not on I miss them. I get more sense out of the news from these shows sometimes than I do the rest of the media. More recently The Last Leg has been the winner in making sense of the news good or bad.
8. Kinder Surprise.
Kinder Surprise is kind of a rip-off, but the chocolate is delicious. Unfortunately, kids love them. Unless you live in America, where they’re banned. No yummy chocolate and overpriced tiny toy for you American child. You have to buy them separately.
9. Charity Shops
America has thrift shops and Salvation Army shops, but it’s only recently that it’s become a fashionable thing to do – buying clothes at the thrift shop. But we’ve been doing this forever. We will go from charity shop to charity shop looking for books or crockery or t-shirts, completely ignoring the rest of the shops. Charity Shops are completely respectable here, socially acceptable and everyone shops in them, from middle class little old ladies to young students and working mums. At one point there were five charity shops on Aberystwyth High Street. Most of my house-ware came from charity shops, most of my furniture came from a non-profit second-hand store. Most of the clothes I brought my baby have been from charity shops.
10. Nationalised Charity Drives
In March we have Comic Relief or Sport Relief and in November Children In Need – millions of people all over Britain raising millions and millions for good causes all over the world. I understand that there are telethons in the US, raising money on TV, but they’re not quite like this and there have been none since 2012. In November schools dress up in pyjamas, people raise money at their job,s different people do challenges and random things for sponsors all for Children In Need. We’ve been doing this for years. It becomes part of the year like Christmas and Easter and Summer Holidays. Comic Relief and Children In Need are still going strong though. Last year Children In Need raised £37,100,687.
There is more; innuendo, gun control, chips for dinner on a Friday night and conkers. I could go on. There’s a whole bunch of stuff she didn’t have to suffer through as a kid either; Mr Blobby for example.
Let me know what else she missed out on. Perhaps next time I’ll write a list about what I missed that she had growing up.