We landed in the UK six months ago today, which means we’re about halfway through. In honour of this momentous event, I give you my random, London-centric, completely subjective, statistically invalid, probably unfair, and utterly meaningless decisions on who wins between Canada and the UK. As George Carlin said, about something totally unrelated, “These are my rules; I make ’em up.”
Central heating and insulation, ventilation in houses: Canada
Public transit: UK (inexpensive, extensive, and frequent)
Current: UK (240V current means the kettle boils my coffee water in less than a minute! Though it also means that if you stick a fork in the socket, it will actually kill you. Which is probably why the sockets all have off switches)
Crisp/chip flavours: UK (I’ve had: prawn cocktail, onion and cheese, worcester sauce, roast beef and horseradish, haggis, roast chicken, sausage and mustard, and others I can’t remember. None of them were bad, though some were better than others)
Chip/fries: UK, if purchased from a chippy – I don’t know what they fry them in, but, damn!
Ridiculousness of bureaucracy: UK
Ease with which one can get a family doctor: UK
Food packaging: Canada
Labels indicating provenance of produce (and some dry goods): UK
Tea: UK (you might think this is a no-brainer, but I wasn’t much of a black tea drinker until I got here. I ordered tea while I was out, on a whim (and because I didn’t have the £2.50 required to buy a decent cup of coffee around here on my person). It was a revelation – it comes with milk here by default, and they kind of swish and squish the tea bag around in the hot milky water for about a minute before they take it out, when they decide the milk is the right colour. Who knew I’d be a fan of weak milky tea? But there you go! Now I have it every day at home. Which would be fine if I had cut my coffee consumption accordingly. My blood pressure should be good and high by the time I get back)
Postal service: UK (again, inexpensive and frequent)
Mayors with unfortunate haircuts: UK
Mayors with unfortunate personal lives: Canada
Number of cyclists: Canada – I was surprised. Then again, public transit here is pretty good.
Cured and/or smoked pork products: UK. I should do a blog post on this.
Access to haggis in January: UK
Access to black pudding anytime: UK
Dairy products: UK
Musical notation: Canada (Ok, this one’s a personal thing: I first learned music notation in French (ronde, blanche, noire, croche, double-croche, etc). Then I learned it in English in university (whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note, etc). Here, despite the fact that they speak English too, it’s totally different (semi-breve, minim, crotchet, quaver, etc). And crotchet sounds like croche. It’s messing me up. Also, why is it a semi-breve when you hardly see breves anywhere. And what’s a breve called in North-America, anyway?)
Choral pronunciation of Latin: Canada. But only because I laughed at a choir rehearsal here when the director was telling the choir to please stop pronouncing ‘Hosanna in excelsis’ as hosanna-r-in excelsis. And also because she keeps telling us to stop sounding like we’re Alan Rickman. I’m sure my Canadian pronunciation of everything is equally hilarious to them.
Public radio: Canada
Public television: UK
Netflix: Canada (and that’s saying something…)
Cell phone plans: UK
Casual use of the word ‘fuck’ (in all parts of speech) in conversation: UK
Fences around city lots: UK – they love their fences. Parks have fences around them. And within them. It is unheard of for yards not to be fenced. It is impossible to walk through, say, an apartment building parking lot as a shortcut, because it, or the property it’s on, is fenced in. In a city where the roads are not in a nice, tidy grid, this can make walking annoying. By contrast, the countryside has rights-of-way everywhere, dating back hundreds of years, through which the public can walk, and even pet the cows, if one is so inclined and feeling adventurous.
Flowers blooming in winter: UK. This might be unfair, given my comment on the superiority of winters in Canada above, but the fact that the fuschias haven’t stopped blooming since July is pretty good consolation for the dreariness of the weather. My rules; I make ’em up.
Progress regarding gender stereotyping: Canada.
School year: UK – Only five weeks in the summer, but another seven weeks throughout the year. (In contrast with Canada, which has 9 weeks in the summer, and another three throughout the year. Same number of weeks, different distribution). This seems better for keeping the momentum going. Though I don’t know if it’s easier or harder to find care for your kids that often if both parents are working full-time outside the home.
Overall attitude towards healthy eating: Canada
Ability to buy alcohol: UK (why Canada (except Québec) still has such ridiculous laws around alcohol sales, I do not understand)
Acceptance and adherence to public recycling and composting programs: Canada
Currency: Canada, but only because they finally dropped the penny. However, I like that the bills here are different sizes. And! It turns out that Scotland prints its own money, which is interchangeable with British currency, but prints the heads of people other than the queen on it.
Parliament Buildings: UK
Enforcement of poop-and-scoop laws: Canada
Kids’ literature and magazines: Canada
Diversity of junk food: UK
Public libraries: Canada
People knitting in public: Canada
Number of people with donut buns: UK
Ok. That’s enough for today. Thanks for indulging me. Any requests?
* Day numbers were recalculated and I found I had been wrong in my previous posts. At some point, like when your children get too old to refer to their ages in months, I should just change to a different unit