by Gene Callahan
down the escalator at the tube, but I didn't catch him. (Dick,
both the US and the UK, waiters in Indian restaurants typically
wipe your plate just before they place it in front of you.
Is this supposed to inspire confidence? It always makes
me worry that the wait staff fears the dish staff is not
really doing their job.
new Scottish Parliament building was just opened... 3 years
late and 10 times over budget. Who but the government could
wind up 1000% over budget on a building? At least here they
have the honesty to call state projects "schemes."
book store on the LSE campus is selling Waterstone's
Giude to Literarute for Dlysexic Chilrden.
cigarette packs here have labels with big letters saying
"Smoking Kills." Well, at least one government scheme has
succeeded, since the labels have reduced the number of smokers
per capita in Britain to only like 10 times the number in
was a busker (that means someone who plays music or sings
for change) in the tube (that means subway) tonight. The
song she was performing was "Walk on by." That seemed to
me to be the most unfortunate choice for a busking song
I've ever come across, as I heard the woman repeating, "Walk
on by, donít stop, walk on by, donít stop."
UK sinks are puzzling. There are almost always two separate
faucets, so that you can choose to scald your hands or freeze
them when washing up. And some of the sinks have a nifty "instant-shut-off"
feature, where the faucet only runs as long as you are pressing
down the tap with one hand, making it impossible to rub your
hands together under running water.
banner day: I was able to bring my wash inside!
line "dry" our clothes where I'm living. The trick is to
get them out and back in during one of the 12-hour windows
without rain. Well, Sunday I mis-timed things, and today
was the first time I was able to bring them inside.
not that they were actually dry, or anything like that.
It was just the first time they weren't dripping wet. Now
they are in my bedroom, really drying.
night, Ireland beat the Faroe Islands two-nil in World Cup
qualifying play. In the States, of course, we'd say "two-nothing."
But no one ever seems to say "two-zero." Why is that? And
why do the Faroe Islands have their own football (that means
clothes are again "drying" on the line. I hope to be able
to bring them inside by Sunday. I'm thinking of skipping
the washing machine altogether and putting my laundry straight
outside, since it gets both washed and dried there.
asked directions to a restaurant from a news agent. He told
me it was right across the street from "steer box." Now,
I wasn't sure what a "steer box" was, so I asked him where
to show me it. He pointed across the street to a Starbucks.
on the topic, it's interesting to note the different effects
produced by American and English rain. In the US, mushrooms
pop up after a shower, while here each rainfall sprouts
at least one new Starbucks.
of the doors around LSE bear a sign saying "Door Alarmed."
Well, I'm starting to become alarmed that all these inanimate
objects are so worried.
the library has a sign saying, "When in the library, your
cell phone must be strictly switched to silent mode." Now,
I know how to switch my cell phone to silent mode, but how
do I do so "strictly"? Ought I to warn it, in harsh terms,
of the punishment I will deliver should it ring?
beginning to get the notion that there's some fellow named
"Beckham" who is something of a celebrity here. It's mostly
the fact that his name has been in the front-page headline
of some tabloid every single day since I've arrived
that has suggested the idea to me.
America, fast food service jobs are held mostly by Hispanics,
in order to prevent the customers from wasting the staff
members' time by talking to them. England doesn't have much
of a Hispanic population, but fast food places here have
gotten around that difficulty by employing Eastern Europeans
who can't understand the customers instead. Last night,
I stopped at a sandwich shop. "Cheddar Cheese Sandwich"
was listed on the menu. But how was it prepared? A typical
cheese sandwich here might include pickles and mango chutney.
(It's not bad.)
I asked the chap behind the counter, "What's in the cheddar
I had suspected as much, since cheese is constitutive of
a cheese sandwich. (See, I'm already learning to talk like
a fancy pants philosopher!) I was fairly certain there would
be bread involved as well. But my curiosity was still not
else is in it, besides cheese?"
looked at me quizzically. "Ham? Tuna salad?"
he mean that the cheddar cheese sandwich always
includes ham and tuna salad? Was he saying
he could put those in it if I wanted him to? Was
he suggesting other sandwiches I might prefer, since I seemed
so suspicious of the cheese?
knows... I just said, "Thanks anyway," and walked out.
finally getting settled in here. Last night, for the very
first time, I remembered the name of the road I live on,
Buck Lane, when I wasn't on the road! The fact
that my house is prominently named "Buck Cottage" has been
a big help in my committing this fact to memory in only
also getting accustomed to the English driving on the left.
When I first arrived, I could think, "I'd look left in this
situation in the States, so I'd better look right." But
I've been here long enough that now I can't remember which
way I'd look in America, so I'm actually much worse at crossing
streets than I was two weeks ago.
My friend Jan
Lester has been trying to tell me that the name of the
subway here is pronounced "tyube," not "toob."
But he also tried to tell me that the rail stations have been
"moving," so obviously he's just winding up the
2004 Gene Callahan
Callahan/Stu Morgenstern Archives