So, at the moment I’m still in the UK. It is lovely to see my family, but I am missing my wife and son, a lot. I managed my usual Monday Haiku post, which got a little neglected after I published an awards post a couple of hours later. Then I added a post on Tuesday which were some reflections on the recent travel and how routine some of it is. Keeping with that theme I noticed a couple of things that I miss from the UK, and some that I’m happy to miss:
Things I miss
- Family and friends – Sure I could have moved to get away from them all. I didn’t and often I miss them. I wish we could see each other more often.
- The Observer (Sunday Newspaper) – I know I can read some of this online, but it isn’t the same as crashing out on the chair working my way through it, usually starting with the sports section, then moving onto the review section. The last edition had an interview with Martin Amis which just felt different reading it in the printed edition. Plus you get Phillip French in film reviews, and numerous other fab columnists like Victoria Coren.
- Free Health care – Regular readers will know I like an occasional moan at the US healthcare system. Old Blighty has the NHS. It is not perfect, but it pretty much does the job, and leaves you with no debt other than the exorbitant fees charged to park near the hospitals.
- Decent holidays at work – My last job based in the UK gave me 24 days paid holiday, paid bank holidays, and a sort of flex time where you could work hours up for extra days off. The average holidays in the US is 10 paid days. Enough said.
- Character of the place – At first thought when on the way back from the airport, I thought lots of the area, the buildings and such, looked a little tired and run down. But at the same time it gives it a lot of character. And of course, there is the history. The architecture is a lot more varied than Southern California. It seems to have a bit more personality inside it’s run down look.
- Cheaper Supermarket food – Generally speaking, food in the supermarkets is cheaper than in Southern California. Likely because there is only a few big chains, and they like to enter price wars to draw in customers. A loaf of bread isn’t too much over £1, but closer to $4 (£2.60) in Southern California.
- British Chocolate – In the grand scale of chocolate that exists in my head, Brit chocolate isn’t the best in the world, but the variety and quality of snack bars is much better than the US equivalent. You can get some of it over there, but massively marked up in price. My wife will complain that it is difficult to get a Crunchie bar there.
- QI, BBC4, and 6music – In media terms, I miss Stephen Fry’s knowledge quiz QI, the seasons of interesting documentaries that BBC4 does, and the different DJs and good music played on 6music. Actually I can get 6music via the net, but I’ve not seen it time delayed so I can listen to the breakfast show in the morning, and not as I’m going to bed. Satellite radio is good in the US, e.g. Sirius XMU, but that also comes with a subscription fee.
Things I’m happy to miss
- TV Specials 1 – “Gary Barlow: On her majesty’s service” – The advertisement for this which I saw several f**k**g times within the first hour or two of arriving, almost made me pull my ears off. Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber and been commissioned to write a song for the jubilee. That show was about the making of that song. Really? Who gives a f**k???
- TV Specials 2 – The nations favourite Bee Gees song – Honestly, that was a real show on this past week. I don’t care how much you like the Bee Gees. Why should I care which song the nation thinks is the best one?
- The Weather – Good old Blighty. I get here, it is almost like Winter. For the first time in months I needed a coat. I think the sun might have gone on its own summer holiday. Guess how long it took to rain? Actually it did good on that score, it was at least 8 hours.
- Run down and over grown – As you can read above, that also adds some character. But not everywhere. With the UK economy also on leave for a few years, cutbacks have included areas owned by the local authorities getting attention a bit less often. I’m probably generalising here, it is not like that everywhere, and the miserable weather doesn’t help any.
- Miserable people at shop counters – They tend to force them to smile less in the UK. Many in the UK would claim the US is kind of fake in this way, in that the people of the US are forced to smile, it is not always that they want to. I say to this, I don’t care how fake it is, or whether it is or not. People in the UK might have initial novelty value to visitors with their “honest approach”, but I’d rather see a smile in the shop and some polite attention, than some miserable sod, seeing the day out and waiting to go home.
- Not enough HD TV, or EPL football – I know, I’m a HD snob now, living in the US. Also I got to see pretty much every Liverpool game on US tv, which I would not get in the UK. Spoilt I am in that regard.
- English Soaps like Eastenders – I know my wife likes the novelty of Eastenders, when she is in the UK. I used to watch it a lot when I lived here, but managed to ween myself from it, some time before leaving. But now they’ve killed off Pat Butcher. How can I visit “the square” now Pat has gone? US readers, look her up on youtube.
So as a surprise to me, there aren’t that many things I’m happy to miss. On the other things, there are lots of things I like about the US as well and would miss if I moved back here. It may be that I’m generally a laid back, positive person, so I don’t get phased by much. The stuff I’m not keen on kind of passes me by. Still cannot help missing some things eh?
Lexicon word of the day: inestimable.