Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Oh what a world my parents gave me

I sink into a seat on the Gatwick Express, not happy to be back. It is a little before 10am, and my body clock, which finally adjusted to Texas Time, thinks it is 4am. I couldn’t sleep on the plane and am due in at work in a few hours. Everything seems yuck. I phone Lanette and speaking to her makes me feel a little better, and also a little worse at the same time.

When I was away, there were a couple of occasions where the two of us were snuggled up watching TV and we’d see something which would prompt Lanette to turn to me and shake her head, apologising for how weird her country (or, in the case of more localised commercials, her state) must seem. Similarly, before I went away there were a few times where I’d be watching TV in the company of fresh-off-the-boat Housemate Nicole and something on the screen would cause her to look at me with a bewildered "what?!!". In the case of T4’s June Sarpong’s presenting style, I have been able to offer no more than the most Gallic of shrugs.

As the train begins to head into London I try and adopt the perspective of someone new to the country and imagine what their first impressions must be of this alien landscape. I peer into the mid-morning gloom and decide that we must have some of the most littered railway embankments going. I also decree that our graffiti artists really must try harder; their tags are so uniform and mundane. As the journey continues though, I see some more surreal sights which I enjoy imagining befuddling a newly arrived visitor. The first noticeable building I see bears a large sign, proclaiming it to be The Bank of Scotland. Confusing. We then pass the yard of a bus hire company, which has chosen to paint all of its almost seemingly derelict double deckers a purple colour. A series of further yards zip past, each with slightly more bizarre contents than that which preceded it. There is a collection of a few hundred of those metal benches you only get at railway stations or more modern children’s play parks, stacked some 15-feet high. Next is a large yard empty but for a couple of dozen decaying old telephone boxes, each standing tardis-like in the mist. Followed by a yard the size of a tennis court containing nothing but stacked traffic cones. What, I wonder, would an outsider, new to this part of the world, make of it all?

I spill my expensive and bland hot chocolate over my newly washed jeans. What, I wonder as I prepare to disembark to the tube strike which greets my return home, would an outsider, new to this part of the world, make of me and my browned and steaming crotch?


Alan said...

It's probably no consolation, but welcome back Huw.

Dancinfairy said...

Welcome home. Sorry that you are sad and have had a brown, steaming crotch. (I really never thought I would ever type that sentence!)

It must be something about January but I really feel sorry for "a couple of dozen decaying old telephone boxes, each standing tardis-like in the mist".

Jona said...

Hi Huw, glad you're home safe and had a good holiday :o) Yikes about the hot chocolate, but better on the way home than going, eh?

mona said...

Train stations are the same in France, it's funny you mention it, but I was thinking just yesterday that graffiti should make more of an effort
Have fun with the jest lag!

Me Over Here said...

After all that time I spent washing those jeans! Well, I'll forgive you and your browned, steaming crotch...THIS time!

(Everything still seems yuck!)

deanne said...

Well London just wasn't the same without your browned and steaming crotch Huw!

Rob West said...

Whoa, that was a fun little topic. It made me laugh. In fact, I might be able to one-up dear Mo and confide in you that sometimes when I'm watching TV alone, I secretly wish there were a foreigner sitting on the counch with me, simply so I could shug and apologize for my culture.

Then I remember that you guys spell "apologize" with an S, and on a very deep level that I'm rather ashamed of, I kind of think that makes us even.

But I've often wondered what a first-timer would think of our country (well, our TV.) Then I realized that it's probably the disproportionate number of locally-owned Ford dealership commercials that make me the most self-conscious. (Do you guys have as many of those as we do?) Of course, the Jessica Simpson-Paris Hilton-Lindsay Lohan "Diva Trifecta" probably doesn't help matters either.

Ivy the Goober said...

You called her at 4 a.m. TEXAS time???? she must really love you.

Chris said...

TV typically makes me feel so ashamed of my own country - as if the concept of the Electoral College in the 21st century wasn't enough - that I tend to avoid it just to save my perceptions of my own country some dignity. So far it's working, but I can't help but feel a little concerned the rest of America who lost their dignity during the early 90's when George Michael did commercials for Diet Coke.

Rob West said...


I for one lost my innocence when Michael Jackson set his hair in fire plugging Pepsi in the early 80s.

But then... everyone finish this sentence with your own material:

I lost my innocence when Michael Jackson ________ .

Mary said...

"I lost my innocence when Michael Jackson" became LaToya?

Welcome back Huw!

Astrid said...

You should have just told them that browned and steaming crotches are very hip in Texas and that you are just un-cool with a clean crotch like the majority of people in the UK. Yes, if they are wise, they would most certainly follow your footsteps!