27 Banal Observations of a Recent Immigrant

Mar 20

This post is in response to, and inspired by this fantastic article in the Guardian by Paul Carr.

As Carr did in his piece, let’s just get this over and done with. Here are the things I’ve noticed about the UK in the past seven weeks.

Please note that many of these are in jest, or at least are written with a love for all three countries I’ve lived in. There’s no need for the irate comments, emails or tweets I’ve received over the past few weeks (since this became popular on StumbleUpon again). Calm down, Internet peoples.

1) Everything in the UK can be accomplished via SMS, or text message. Government organisations don’t send you letters. They don’t even email. They bloody text you. It’s like this country is run by fifteen year olds, recently armed with pre-paid Nokia 5120s. It’s brilliant.

2) Brown sauce is, to the English, what yellow mustard is to Americans. Gratuitously added to everything and a complete mystery to most foreigners.

3) You’ll think you’ve settled in and have mastered the art of not saying bathroom, sidewalk, apartment or white-out, and then you’ll tell the woman at Farringdon station to put ten bucks on your Oyster card. She’ll look at you like you went to the bathroom on the sidewalk.

4) There is little more satisfying than a new £20 note. Something about the size of the note and the texture of the paper makes it blindingly obvious that it’s worth more than $20. Somehow, this isn’t so true for £10 and £5 notes. My favourites are the £20s. I would like to have lots and lots of them.

5) You really want to say quid, and when you do for the first time, you feel like a complete poseur. No one else notices.

6) No one in England can decide which side of the sidewalk pavement on which to walk. In America, we walked on the right. In New Zealand, we walked on the left. Here, it seems that a heavy European influence has confused everyone and everyone gets duly pissed off at those people not walking on the same side of the pavement as they are. I honestly don’t see what’s so difficult about the idea that one should walk on the same side of the pavement as one drives on the road.

7) When in Rome, jaywalk like the Romans. It’s illegal to jaywalk in Seattle, so I never did it, and I didn’t like it when other people did it, especially in front of my car. In London, jaywalking is a sport, based solely on survival of the fittest. You’re never going to get to cross the road if you wait for the lights to change, so you’d better be really good at running in your knee-high boots.

8 ) Anti-Americanism is far worse than I ever thought it was. I guess they don’t say it to you—Americans—but they say it to me. People here ‘hate Yanks’. I try to explain that there are 300 million people in the United States and that not all of them embody the negative national stereotype that seems to define the modern ‘Yank’. Some of my best friends are American. They’re great people. However, if I ever use an example of something specific to the United States, the opinion is met with disdain. I am considering replacing ‘America’ with any other country from now on, just to gauge the different reaction. For the love of Christ, England (and the rest of you): the United States isn’t a bad place and it isn’t filled with bad people. The ironic thing about this anti-Americanism is that it sometimes comes from people who also regard Americans as some of their best friends. This somewhat mirrors how Americans can see Brits as stuffy, humourless monarchists, yet simultaneously adore Eddie Izzard.

9) Just being away from the United States makes you skinnier.  Saturated fat appears to have escaped into the air in America. Here, you can eat fish and chips and pies and drink London Pride for days on end and wander around in skinny jeans. I have no other explanation for this besides ‘magic’.

10) Remember all those contracts everyone made you sign for absolutely everything in the States? No, we don’t have those.

11) Remember cheques? No, we don’t have those either. Because it’s 2009. For God’s sake, America. Keep up.

12) How to break up a phone number is a political issue. Whereas in the States, we’re all basically agreed upon , there is serious debate here over where the brackets should go and where the breaks should be. I assume that you have to have been born British to understand why this is important.

13) In the country that brought us Top Gear, there is no need to own a car if you live in a city. In fact, owning a car here in central London would be a burden. Owning anything more than feet and an Oyster card is superfluous when you live within ten minutes of High Holborn and eight-hundred metres of two tube stations.

14) The fact that the BBC has no ads is great, save for one thing: the toilet. Sixty straight minutes of Top Gear means that they better have a D-list star in the reasonably priced car, because that’s the only time you’re going to be able to sneak away to the loo.

15) Chavs. What’s that all about?

16) Any question regarding human nature can be answered by either:
1. That’s blokes for you; or
2. That’s birds for you
Nothing more needs to be said following either of those two statements. Everyone drinks beer.

17) Even though you feel like a dick for doing so, you smile a little every time Kanye West sings ‘we the hottest in the world right now / just touched down in London town’.

18 ) This is considered fast food. See: England making you skinnier.

19) The English never tire of hearing Americans (and New Zealanders) talk about their ‘pants’.

20) The washing machine is in the kitchen. I’ve had a washing machine in my kitchen for six weeks now, so it no longer seems odd to me; however, upon arriving in this country, the idea of washing my clothes next to my dishes was very strange. The washing machine usually goes in the bathroom or in a room of its own in the U.S. Don’t try to debate the issue with people of either nationality: the argument is about as intelligent as the one about where breaks should come in phone numbers.

21) Jeep Cherokees are the largest cars on the road. The smallest cars on the road are smaller than American motorcycles.

22) As appears to be the case across Europe, asking for water in a restaurant is not enough. You must specify whether you want bottled or tap water. Despite London water tasting like liquid magic, somehow asking for tap water sounds like you’re going to get something warm that smells of chlorine.

23) After six years in the United States, I still feel the need to affect an American accent when on the phone to strangers, or whilst ordering things in a loud restaurant or bar. The latter situation came about after years of being misunderstood when I ordered a drink of ‘wortah’. The former has me rolling my ‘r’s on the phone, sounding like a cross between Madonna and Anna Paquin.

24) Mobile. Fucking. Broadband.

25) People in the UK who don’t live in Seattle think that the skyline from Frasier is real.

26) Despite a close proximity to Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is far less annoying in England because everybody doesn’t think they’re Irish.

27) Both here and in America, things go tits up and it’s bad. However, in the UK, things are the tits and it’s good.

by on Flickr

66 Responses to “27 Banal Observations of a Recent Immigrant”

  1. Teifion says:

    Our washing machine and tumble dryer are located in the bathroom (shower room actually as we have no bath in it). I’m also upset that I added you to the list of blogs that count as “seo” and the next day you post about something not SEOish :P

  2. Ciarán says:

    “Anti-Americanism is far worse than I ever thought it was.”
    Really? I think you need to hang out with some different people. There is undoubtedly a lot of lazy anti-Americanism, but I think a lot of us also love the States, its popular culture and a lot more besides. Just look at how bloody excited we were about Obama.

    “How to break up a phone number is a political issue.”
    Bloody right – it’s 020 then the 7 or 8, not 0207. 020 is the dialling code. If you live in London, you don’t need to dial it. Seriously, someone should right a case study on how much BT spent trying to explain his simple ****ing thing, and how people completely didn’t get it.

    “Remember cheques? No, we don’t have those either.” Errr, I do. I use them to pay my cleaner. Which probably says more about me than I’d really like to admit.

    “The fact that the BBC has no ads is great, save for one thing: the toilet.”
    PVR, PVR, PVR!

  3. Jane says:

    I got a line into the phone number argument and my brain sort of slowly froze.

    I asked my landlord to which address I should send rent cheques. He actually laughed.

  4. Dan Wilson says:

    Teifion: having your washing machine in the bathroom (that’s the room with the bath or shower in) makes perfect sense but is weird.

    Jane: Thanks for not mentioning the Queen. But can I suggest you get your hands on a £50 immediately, if not sooner? They make you feel so rich. But they’re quite difficult to spend because everyone thinks they’re fake.

  5. Kalena says:

    Tsk tsk Flora. You spelled *checks* wrong :-P

  6. Jane says:

    I spelled it British! I’m so confused…

  7. Lindop says:

    Fun post Jane :)

    We break up our telephone numbers often by what looks the neatest…

    A random Manchester number (sorry if it’s anyones!) The area code is always 4 digits

    (here’s a random Bournemouth number)

    (london with country code)

    so my rule has always been keep the area code totally separate (like ciaran says) and then it’s up to you how and if you want to split the main number… I just realised it’s more complicated than I first though!

  8. stuartpturner says:

    Awesome post from Johhny Foreigner!

    “No one in England can decide which side of the sidewalk pavement on which to walk. In America, we walked on the right. In New Zealand, we walked on the left.”

    It’s because we’re all so free and easy, we don’t want to be put in a box and made to walk on one side. Although technically the gentleman should walk on the curbside of the pavement, and the lady on the other (as I believe was the wont in Victorian times) to ensure her dress would not get splashed by dirt from the horse and carriages.

    “5) People in the UK who don’t live in Seattle think that the skyline from Frasier is real.”

    Next you’ll be telling us that Frasier himself isn’t real – come on…

  9. Mark says:

    #6 – This has always confused me too. We drive on the left, however in many london stations there are PLEASE KEEP TO THE RIGHT signs. Wtf.

    The only exception to this rule is spiral staircases, where people walking “up” should be allowed to walk on the side, because it’s slightly shorter and they are spending more effort going up anyway.

  10. Mark says:

    ^That should be inside of staircase. Not side. Hurghhh.

  11. says:

    If we walked on the left side of the pavement we’d no longer have the temporary joy and much needed exercise (see UK makes you thin) of the Pavement Stranger Shuffle, Dance, Uncomfortable Smile TM.

  12. Phil Wright says:

    Genius post Jane!

    I love this:

    4) There is little more satisfying than a new £20 note. Something about the size of the note and the texture of the paper makes it blindingly obvious that it’s worth more than $20.

    Our money rocks. I was recently showing one of my friends from the US how cool our coins are (even cooler now the new designs are coming out). He marvelled at the logic of:

    2 x round, copper, smooth edge, one small, one large (1p & 2p)
    2 x round, silver, ribbed edge, one small, one large (5p & 10p)
    2 x 7-sided, silver, smooth edge, one small, one large (20p & 50p)
    2 x round, thick, gold(ish), stamped edge, one small, one large (1 quid and 2 quid)

    Then we looked at nickels and dimes.

    UK money rocks – I too, want lots of it.

  13. jonathanwthomas says:

    Brilliant post! You’re so lucky!

  14. Nick says:

    Stuartpturner – a gentleman should also always walk to the right of a lady in order to keep his sword hand free. Apparently. Logically, then, we should be walking on the left hand pavement….?

    What’s all tgis about Frasier not being real?!

  15. Expat Mum says:

    re: number 12 – telephone numbers in the UK used to be a lot shorter, but they had to keep adding digits as more and more people got phones. When phoning my family or freinds, I usually start with the number it used to be then add the newer ones on at the front. Great post!

  16. All Mod Cons says:

    This post is magic. Really. Although if I ever hear Kanye West open his mouth (it’s not classified as singing) then the last thing to cross my face is a smile. No matter what the lyrics.

  17. Nick Wilsdon says:

    Great post Jane :)

    I was always brought up to walk against the traffic. That kind of made sense, especially when you grew up in the villages, with small winding roads and no pavement. You want to see any cars that are about to hit you.

    And yep, 20 pound notes are very satisfying. Although I’m a convert to the Russian 5000 rouble note now. Each one of those are worth about 120 pounds, so I’d like to have a lot of those…

  18. Jim Wild says:

    Great post, love it.

    I remember dashing across a road in the states only to be confronted by an angry Police Officer. I had no idea what Jaywalking even was! Fortunately once he discovered we were British he let us go with just a telling off!

    I like the idea of walking on set sides of the road, would make busy mornings in town much easier.

  19. Jason says:

    2 pence coins work in Vancouver BC Canada, all pool tables, transit etc…

    Nothing like paying 2 English pence to take the skytrain in Vancouver, which is normally 2-3 Can dollars…

  20. Gladys says:

    That was awesome! I’m a Canadian living in Wales, been here for 3 years, and I gotta say most of these ring true to me, though I don’t have to worry about the feelings for America…

    I have to say it still feels strangely elating to spend my Canadian 1c coins instead of the British 1p coin – I’m totalling riping them off one cent at a time to counter rate of change! Just have to make sure they don’t spot the maple leaf…

  21. dfgh says:

    Honestly lass, you think London tap water is liquid magic then get your arse up to the north east.

  22. Phil says:

    The problem with telephone numbers is there is no standard for the way area codes work. Main cities tend to have 4 digit area codes and then 7 digit numbers, so they are generally split xxxx-xxx-xxxx, but some people will give the number xxxxx-xxx-xxx, even though the 5th digit isn’t part of the area code. This is because areas outside major cities have 5 digit area codes and 6 digit numbers. To add to the confusion further, in some areas the telephone numbers are only 10 digits, so there’s a five digit area code and a five digit phone number… although there can still be six digit phone numbers in the same area code (I’ve never fully understood this quirk of the phone system). That’s before we even start talking about london, whose area code is 020, however all inner london numbers start 7 and all outer london numbers start 8, so people tend to give the area codes as 0207 and 0208. London is also unique in starting 02, all other geographic numbers start 01, and mobiles start 07.

    Confused yet?

  23. Miss America says:

    This is great. So true on all accounts. I’m still scared to say quid. At least I know I’m not the only one. Do you mind if I post some of these (with due credit of course!) on my blog, http://missamericaengland.wordpress.com? Thanks much!

  24. Axion says:

    What’s this about contracts? lol

  25. Jane says:

    @ Phil–Brain freeze ;)
    @Miss America Totally fine, but please link back to this post (yep, digging for links…)

  26. Matt says:

    water in the north-west is definitely the best in England

  27. evererch says:

    What an excellent page! Enjoyed reading that immensely.


  28. Maui Mike says:

    Placement of washer/dryer is a non-issue in Hawaii (na aina). Since most of us here can only afford to live in condominiums and convenience apartments, the W/D unit always follows the nearest water main, which can be almost anywhere, usually in a small closet of its own, but not always. Though American-born, I had no idea this was one of those “lift vs. elevator” trans-Atlantic cultural collisions.

    You’re right about Oyster Cards and the Underground being all one needs in London. I used L-Town as my vacation port-o-call while stationed in the Middle East in the ’80s for the US Dept. of State, and I NEVER-EVER rented a vehicle while on leave there. Didn’t need one (and anyway, all those @#$%&*! “M” roads and “driving on the left” were fairly intimidating). I miss the Underground SO MUCH! And the British Museum, too. Odd thing, though: I don’t remember eating ANYTHING… not a single meal, when on a visit there. Why’s that?

    I don’t blame you folks for “hating Yanks”, but Jus’ so ya know, I love you guys SO MUCH that I got one of my undergraduate university degrees in your language. Happiest four years of my school life, that was! You need to remember that most Americans love Old Blighty and we show it by being condescending, rude, and patronizing whenever we cross paths with one of you (or your entire population, for that matter). It’s just how we show our admiration and well-hidden respect for you. Nothing personal. GSTQ,dude.

    So… thanks much for the memories provoked by your excellent page.

  29. PaganPup says:

    As an American Anglophile who has yet to visit the UK (I’m working on it…) this sounds like wonderful advice. And if the water in the northeast is the best, then I’m all set as my first visit will be with a friend in Newcastle-on-Tyne. (Did I mention that I love cities with hyphenated names like that???) Just one question, will I be deported if I ask for an Iced Tea?

    Thanks for the good advice. And when my friend takes me on a pub crawl I’ll be sure to use “quid” at least once or twice without feeling the least like a poseur.

  30. Mimi says:

    @PaganPup You will be thought very strange for asking for iced tea in most places but we do have some bottled versions nowadays, Lipton makes a lemon and a peach flavour. They’re fairly widely available. That’s usually the best you’ll do.

    @Jane If you smile at Kanye singing American Boy check out this video of East Anglian Boy. Yeah we Brits got the funny.

  31. alexander says:

    Hello Jane

    Welcome to the UK.

    Like the blog, a good twist of rant and tongue in cheek. You must have a British genes from your New Zealand heritage.

    Re the “Americans” and St Patrick’s day, we don’t “hate” the Americans that’s a reserved for the Irish it’s just FFS (you can work that out after a few more weeks here) stop telling the world what to do and drop the arrogance, Americans are not the smartest, fastest, toughest, developed or woo hoo best on the planet at everything possible.

    Re the Irish remember the IRA spent a good few years bombing England funded by Americans thus you will find a generation that are the way they are.

    Re the large cars, well it correlates to the size of the bottom!

    Enjoy England and Scotland, forget Wales and Northern Ireland they are shit and do the trip to Dublin for the pint of Guinness but it’s sadly over marketed rubbish these days.



  32. JOE-DASS says:

    Yeah Dude!

    Man, I came over from the good ole US of A last Fall and, boy, are you for real? I mean, how can I say, it like, you know? I can remember the way we were walking all day long and, like, well, hey you know. This is the sh1ts!


    Yeah dude.

  33. Brian says:

    I so loved your post! As an American I would choose London to be my given home town if I could.
    As to how to walk down the pavement, I always had a little mantra going in my head left, left, left…left, left, left…etc so that I would avoid the bad looks when I instinctively went right and the Brit went left and you do the little dance thing. It also kept me from getting ran over when at first I thought the road was safe to walk across only to find I had not looked the correct way and would have been mowed down by a London cabby trainee!
    And when you’re in the tube you bloody well should stay to the right if you’re not going to walk down the escalators, people need to get to work you know! :)
    The only thing that I could ever remember that just pissed me off was “TV TAX”, we Americans probably pay the same tax in the fine print but it just erked me that I had to pay a direct tax to use my telly!
    As for food I remember a lot but I miss the little mince pies at Christmas and Cornish pasty’s!
    And last but certainly not least I really, really miss the lack of political correctness that the Brits had, it was a huge shock at first but after the shock wares off you realize just how much needless energy goes into beating around the bush to make a point really is and it kills me to think how American politically correct culture is leaching into British society. Just say no to political correctness!

  34. Richard Slater says:

    With regards to (19) – I never get tired of listening to Jonathan Coulton’s Mr. Fancy Pants for that very reason. An entirely new set of images comes into your head, that I am sure were never intended.

    Ref: http://www.jonathancoulton.com/songdetails/Mr.%20Fancy%20Pants

  35. Northern_Eagle says:

    Just a quick FYI, “paper money” is actually made from cotton.

  36. Marcus Pennell says:

    The issue of washing machines being in the kitchen is down to UK building regulations which prohibit having electrical sockets in the bathroom (except a low-wattage shaver socket).

  37. Laura W says:

    Oh no! Please don’t tell me people other than the Germans and Dutch insist on sticking to one side of the pavement! I was amazed when a German girl asked me if British people walked on the left and then I slowly realised that Germans dutifully keep to the right even when walking. My husband got bawled out by a Dutch person for walking on the ‘wrong’ side of the street. Bizarre. All you need to do is look where you’re going rather than chugging along in a line like a bunch of Teletubbies! :) Much easier and far more conducive to pottering.

  38. rachel says:

    why does it matter which side of the pavement you walk on? just walk!!!!!

  39. Nigel says:

    The UK telephone number area code formats are easy to understand once you realise that you just need to look and see if the number begins 02x for (02x) xxxx xxxx numbers, or begins 011x or 01×1 for (01xx) xxx xxxx numbers, otherwise it is mainly (01xxx) xxxxxx, apart for a very small number of exceptions.


  40. Jackie says:

    Seriously, living in England makes you skinnier. I lost a stone living there for 6 months and I swear gained it back the SECOND I stepped on US soil.

  41. Jules says:

    I am an Australian living now in Ireland but in England for 3yrs, and I relate to absolutely everything you’ve said in this post – except the bit about weight. That being said, I didn’t drink except for the occasional glass of champagne in Australia – now I drink far too much.

    The phone number thing! Yes! And the bloody SIDEWALK THING! God yes!

  42. Drake Trit says:

    Isn’t the skyline from Frasier is real? I better getz to Seattle to watch me some skyline. Joking.
    I must commend your effort to pick out all the above. The text part as being run by 15 year olds is true to some extent.


  43. Stumptown Gal says:

    I’m hoping my company transfers me to Dublin for a year….and then this post reminded me of the ‘anti-Americanism.’ When in Barcelona for business 2 years ago the Londoners kept saying what I was an unusual American, not like the others they’d met. i kept thinking A) no, you’re not getting in my ‘pants’ and B) you should get out more, I’m as plain jane as one can get. P.S. Seattle is over, Portland is so NoPo.

  44. Lotte says:

    Interesting article… :D

    With regards the pavement – I agree the pavement shuffle is quite funny and always makes me smile. As a lot of the roads around here are single track country lanes, walking on the right [and thus facing the on coming traffic] is safer – you can see them coming whereas if you walk on the left, they are approaching from behind you. :)

    I love the jaywalking thing. It is so natural to dodge and weave through the traffic rather than walking to the crossing! At school, 900 girls all kicking out at the same time used to cause mayhem for the cars. We crossed whether there were cars or not on the premise that they would not want the hassle of hitting us. Made me rather concerned that I would do it without thinking when I visited Germany recently as apparently it is a fine-able offense there.

    Out of interest, why can’t you say “bathroom”. I’ve always said it, as have my friends. The only exceptions are when there is a shower not a bath [in which case you might say shower room or wet room] or when it is just a toilet [and sink]. But, even then, if you say “I am going to the bathroom” people know what you mean. :)

  45. Gerry UK says:

    Hilarious – glad you like us Jane. And not all are anti – US; love the place and can’t wait to visit again!

  46. Amit says:

    I don’t agree about the contracts; you do have to sign a contract for everything here just like in the States – mobile, broadband, TV.. And speaking of TV, you didn’t mention the TV license!

  47. PattyM says:

    The IRA that Americans “funded” is actually a retirement fund, nothing to do with the Irish. And those folk that were sending them stuff were Irishmen living in New York.

  48. Jane says:

    @ Patty, it would be helpful if you mentioned the name of the person you’re replying to, so that people can follow (sorry this blog doesn’t do embedded comments yet – it’s something I’ve been meaning to put in place). Otherwise people are left wondering about your comment, since the post doesn’t mention the IRA.

    On that note, Jesus, it’s a light-hearted post – we don’t need to get too political, do we? ;)

    @Amit Christ, lighten up. And learn to appreciate over-exaggeration for the purpose making a point.

    The negative comments I get about how “stupid” and “wrong” I am (most of which I don’t publish) fucking astonish me. This was never meant to be deadly serious, people.

  49. andy says:

    Brown sauce is great.

  50. Jimbob says:

    Being British and living and working in London it’s interesting to see it from another point of view.

    The thing about bottled water and tap is if you ask for tap water it has to be free but restaurants can charge what they like for bottled water. Unicorn tears would be cheaper.

    There is a hierarchy on the streets. Motorists hate cyclists, cyclists hate cars and pedestrians, pedestrians hate all other road users.

    It’s customary when commuting to avoid eye contact with other passengers.

    If you think gas (petrol) prices are high in the US you aint seen nothing.

    Although there are several political parties there are only three main ones with either Labour (left) or Conservative (right) getting into parliament.

    If you find yourself on an escalator whatever you do please stand on the right. The left is for people walking up or down the escalator and if there’s a tourist standing on the left you’ll get a stern “excuse me”

    Cheques are dying out, it’s all card and online banking.

    Many things cost in pounds the same as dollars ie almost twice the price.

    There is a city wide cycle scheme where anyone can hire a bike.

    The tube has frequent strikes because of militant unions.

    It doesn’t always rain, in summer it gets pretty hot.

  51. Jane says:

    Thanks Mike!

    I should mention that I’ve been here for two years now (StumbleUpon has just jumped on this post again) and I have to say, I love this country more now than when I arrived.

  52. Wavey says:

    I was always taught to walk on the bit of pavement next to the road, especially when a woman is coming the other way. Apparently it’s to do with protecting her from puddle splash as cars go past. Dunno if that’s normal though…

    Phone numbers… especially London ones are confusing because of history. London used to just be area code ’01′, then because they were running out of numbers they made central London ’0171′ and outer London ’0181′, then for some reason they changed that to ’0207′ for central and ’0208′ for outer. More recently they’ve changed it so the area code is now ’020′ and the numbers just begin with 7 or 8. It’s far less confusing in other towns and cities that haven’t been through all those changes.

  53. Wavey says:

    slight omission in my previous post, after ’01′ there was ’071′ and ’081′, then ’0171′ and ’0181′.
    All of those changes have been in the last 20 years or so. No wonder people are confused.

  54. D Menon says:

    I got the dirty looks at the railway station once and a jeering remark on the side for asking if there was a Trash can anywhere…:)

  55. Brett says:

    wait, the skyline from frasier isn’t real?

  56. Jane says:

    @Brett – Nope :D Wikipedia explains it better than I would – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frasier#Skyline:

    No building or apartment in Seattle really has the view from Frasier’s residence. It was created so the Space Needle would appear more prominently. According to the Season 1 DVD bonus features, the photograph used on the set was taken from atop a cliff, possibly the ledge at Kerry Park, a frequent photography location. Despite this, Frasier has been said to have contributed to the emergence of an upscale urban lifestyle in 1990s Seattle, with buyers seeking properties in locations resembling that depicted in the show, in search of “that cosmopolitan feel of Frasier”.

    From my Seattle flat, I *did* have a view of the Space Needle, but it wasn’t nearly as stunning or romantic as that in the TV show!

  57. cecy says:

    of course people are going to disagree and complain.
    I, in the other hand, loved this. smart, different and heck yeah.. funny! :D

  58. Jane says:

    Thanks, Cecy!

  59. Mad Italian says:

    Very good observations! I’m Italian and have been living in the UK for 15 years – I love the place, the multiculturalism and the language, and now consider it my spiritual home.
    It took some adjusting when I moved here and some of the peculiarities i found was having carpet in the bathroom (ok, sort of understandable, though not particularly practical), but especially having one in a kitchen (two places i rented had that – one was finally replaced with lino when the washing machine flooded the kitchen)!!! I also thought having two separate taps an oddity…
    And the expression ‘the dog’s bollocks’ still makes me chuckle every time I hear it!
    Despite its many foibles, I wouldn’t live anywhere else (except maybe New Zealand if it wasn’t that far away from my family in Italy!!)!

  60. Phil says:


    “London is also unique in starting 02, all other geographic numbers start 01, and mobiles start 07.”

    Not quite right –

    Coventry area code is 024

  61. Nick says:

    @Wavey No, the London codes were never 0207 & 0208. It went straight from 0171 (inner) / 0181 (outer) to being 020 for ALL of London. The actual phone numbers gained an extra digit at the start, which at the point of changeover was ’7′ for inner London numbers and ’8′ for outer. From that point, it was always possible to have an 020 London number that started with a different digit, though they didn’t create any for a while (I believe there are ones that begin with ’3′ now). This is what Ciarán was getting at in comment #2.

    @Phil talking of Coventry, I was living there and remember the same confusion when its code changed. People said “It’s changed from 01203 to 02476″, to which the reply was “No it hasn’t. What would be the point of that? It’s changed to 024 and you now have two more digits at the beginning (which are all ’76′ for existing numbers but will not stay so in the future).”

    Sorry for brain freeze. I really don’t think it’s that complex – you have area codes in every country. It’s just that they can be different lengths in the UK. Picky rant* aside, I really enjoyed this article – nicely observed, though maybe truer of London than the rest of the country.

    [* If I were really being picky, I'd talk of area codes being '171', '181', '20' and the like. The '0' is what gets you out of your current area to use one. That's why you drop it when dialling in from abroad with '+44 20' etc.]

  62. Tam says:

    Loved the post. Thank you, Jane.

    Having recently moved to Seattle, I must say living with the ‘Frasier skyline’ isn’t the easiest. The Space Needle is so frikking close the tourists can see into my bedroom. :P

    I’m from London. I’ve lost weight since I moved to the States. It’s all those hills and overall outdoorsiness of Seattle. 90 mins to the slopes? It used to take me 3 hrs to get to my friend’s flat across the city! (On a Sunday. On Sundays, London public transport sucks.)

    Another thing I find hard to believe: for half the price, I can live in what would pass for a palace in London. I’ve swapped a moldy shoebox-sized flat overlooking a brick wall (admittedly in the swanky NW6 postcode area of London) for a two-bed with a view and enough storage space that for once I can buy the economy pack of toilet paper instead of a roll at a time. Whoa.

    I love States.

  63. Laurence (English) says:

    I must say, most of the comments on this post, and the post itself are just enforcing the reason we ‘hate Yanks’. You are ignorant and self involved. You have no idea what happens in the world outside of America. It is beyond me how you have become so developed (in parts). So please, I ask you on behalf of the world, get some culture in you! Thank you and good night.

    p.s Remember which nation founded you.

    p.p.s I am well aware this comment will be deleted. I don’t care.

  64. Jane says:

    Laurence… I’m from New Zealand–you just told a non-American that she has no idea about life outside the US ;) –and the majority of the post is about how much I love the nuances of Britain… settle petal, you’ll give yourself an ulcer with all that hatred ;) Besides, it would be hard for me not to know what goes on outside of the US when I’ve lived in three different countries, and I’d traveled through Asia and Europe, and been to Australia half a dozen times, before I was old enough to drive.

    I’m off to enjoy early morning London (where I stil live, two years after this was written) – I suggest you lighten up :)

  65. Lisa Richesson says:

    Jaywalking is indeed illegal in Seattle. I got a ticket for it once. It’s the joke about only in Seattle would someone walking waits for the light to change at night, in the rain, when there are no cars anywhere. Gotta love the Pacific Northwest – our brains have turned to mold.

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