Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cow Pats!

I wrote a 'guest blog' for a website about Britian. I regurgitated it from a number of blogs I had written. I submitted it and I haven't heard from them since! I guess it was shite... a big cow pat! Still waste not....

Hello, my name is Miss Daisy (it is a long story) and I’m an ex-pat! There – now I have confessed. It has a horrible ring to it, ‘ex-pat’ sounding like, but far colder and less endearing than ‘cow-pat’. ‘Ex’ as in no longer belonging to my homeland! This is made harder by the fact that I don’t belong in America either. I am a legal alien. Most days I just feel like a space cadet!
I and my delightful sprogs followed my husband to
Azalea Lane
in North Carolina (think middle class suburbia with manicured lawns, supersized, in sub-tropical temperatures) for a temporary 3 year contract with his work. It took me 6 months after he had left for the States to finally pack up our lives and join him. I have found it difficult to ‘assimilate’ and have taken to amassing Union Jack Paraphernalia and saying ‘Good Morning’ in a pompous British accent to cashiers in Wal-mart where I spend most of my days, with the rest of the ‘bewildered of America’! I have spent my first year in exile blogging furiously about all the things I dislike or find strange and weird. In turn Americana has supplied me with an endless stream of material.
I have been asked to give you my top ten list of all things that drive me mad about being a Brit in America. That is a tough call. How can I narrow it down so much? I’m mean but I am not Simon Cowell…I can’t dismiss all the contenders for top spot! There are soooo many to choose from. It is time for the couch. Not quite therapy. I mean time to lie down on the settee and have a think about my negativity. (I recently told an American child to stop jumping on my settee. He paused, said ‘It’s a couch, not a settee’ and dive bombed over the back of it again. I made it quite clear as I turfed him out that it was a settee in my house!)
I’m mean about the USA as being ‘nice’ isn’t funny. I’m mean about the USA so that my friends and family think I’m having a rotten time and feel sorry for me. I’m mean about the USA because it isn’t home! When we were offered a temporary move to North Carolina it was a tough decision as I really did like my life in England. It was one of those ‘opportunities’ you had to take for fear of regretting if you don’t. (They say it is better to regret the things you do that the things you don’t. I can think of lots of examples where that is just bollocks! – I can say Bollocks in America because they don’t use such terminology – I can also say wanker, tosser and knob without causing a stir! I like that about America!)  I perhaps didn’t embrace the adventure fully. If something is long term you look for reasons to love it. If something is temporary you don’t want to make those emotional attachments so you look for reasons to dis-like it. It is fundamental to self preservation. I found lots to dislike but perhaps I should start with the things I miss (of which there are many) about Britain:
I miss tea! Of course!  
I miss Ribena. I drove a 30 mile round trip because I heard on the ex-pat grape vine that an Indian store sold Ribena. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I not only found Ribena ($8 for a £1.99 bottle – what sort of exchange rate is that?!) but also Vimto! I miss squash – I get sick of ‘soda’ even though I am a coke addict (cola! Although I might try the other sort). Water doesn’t do the job when you want squash! I don’t understand why Americans don’t have it! It is sugary and sweet but then it does require some effort – you have to mix the squash with the water… too much hassle for them if they actually have to do something! I have learned too that if you say you want a drink – they assume you mean alcohol. You have to ask for a beverage if you want a soft drink! How English!
I miss Heinz baked beans. I found them in a store called ‘World Market’ which sells things from around the world that no one really wants but they assume is representative. It has provided me with a few things I miss, such as marmite. Last time I went I got 4 cans of beans to stock up ($2 a can!).  The cashier said ‘I find these heavy’. I agreed, ‘Yes they can give you terrible wind’. I didn’t realise she was talking about the weight of the cans!
My mom posts me packets of gravy mix. You can get it here but there is a vomit inducing amount of salt in it! Same with their stock cubes. They even inject their meat with a ‘broth’ which is, as far as I can tell, salt water. I pay twice as much for brothless beef! (I’m sure there is a joke in that somewhere!)
I miss a ‘full English’ breakfast. Their sausage and bacon just isn’t right. Their bacon is thin and fatty and smoked. Ok on a Caesar salad but not for breakfast. I found Irish sausages on the internet – you can order them and they get shipped from New York in some sort of freezer pack. I haven’t succumbed yet but I’m sure I’ll get desperate for sausage eventually (Yes! I know there is a joke there).
I miss M & S Toilet roll. You can only get white loo roll here. I always bring a pack back with me - Beautiful cream loo roll with gold swirly patterns. Stepford wives eat your heart out! I put it in the downstairs loo. It is purely for show! Too pretty for anything shitty!
I miss opening the windows! There are several reasons why I can’t open the windows:
-          It lets all the cold air out (with 40°C temps and ridiculous humidity, the air con stays on!)
-          It would let all the hideous nasty critters that live in sub-tropical conditions in
-          The windows are big and do not comply with British health and safety regulations. My 6 year old son could simply step out of his bedroom window and plunge to a probable head injury!
I miss Curry. I miss the omni-presence of a curry house! Unlike the Brits, America is not a nation of curry lovers.
I miss landmarks! In the UK if you give directions you could do so purely by using pub names (which I miss too). Places have obvious and unique landmarks. Here in the USA everywhere looks the same. ‘Strip malls’ have identical shops. Roads are in blocks and straight lines so you don’t even have bends and roundabouts (Not sure I miss them!) to distinguish and provide markers! Thank heavens for Sat Nav (which they call GPS!)
What I miss most is familiarity. I miss ‘belonging’. I dislike feeling like a foreigner!  One Blog I read said being an ex pat was about ‘Joyfully and fearlessly embracing your new environment in a friendly and respectful way’. Oh bugger, I haven’t taken that approach at all. I’m more ‘unfriendly and disrespectfully disgracing my new environment in a joyless and fearful way (I blog anonymously!) – I seem more cow-pat than ex-pat after all!


  1. You definately smell sweeter and look very much prettier than a cow pat.You will find a lot more cow pats in Texas, but i expect they all look the same .You my darling are unique. I did enjoy your blog and miss them when you don't post one.xxx

  2. I love your blog and am sad when I don't have a minute or too tired to make sense of anything when I do. Keep writing! It is a new adventure sure, but nobody said you had to like the adventure, just that you should take it!

    Your blog says cow-pats you talk about beans and how quaint that the word verification is "fartings" :S

  3. what I miss is you xxx Deb.S