Countries are fun. Here are some first impressions from the 6 countries I’ve sauntered through so far:
Politeness. Every single construction site I walked by in London, Brighton, and York had a sign that read something like this: Dear Neighbor, Please excuse the scaffolding and the noise. Our working hours are 0900-1700. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call the site manager, Nigel Doormouse, at 0774567667. The Brits have a thing for safety as well. When I came to stay at Sussex University in Brighton, I was told by my friend that during her orientation she was told that “The British are afraid of two things. Salmonella and Fire.” Instantly the song ‘London’s Burning’ by The Clash came to mind, and I set right off to document the numerous fire protection schemata in her dorm. You can find that almost thrilling sequence here. It begins with a very sad silhouette on a disposal bag. Don’t be ashamed. It happens to everyone.
But back to the point. London is approaching paranoid on the scale of safety. If you want to bring your dog to the UK it must be quarantined for a year. Apparently it’s because of their pride that there hasn’t been a case of rabies since the 1800s. There may be better things to brag about than that. I’m sure there’s more bits and pieces like that, but I’m not about to check.
Everyone drinks all the time. 9am: Hop on the Tube with your Tweed suit, Pink Tie (London businessman casual dresscode) and swig Carlsberg after a good left-right looksee. 10:30: Board meeting at Bannerman’s on Oxford Street. Have a seat in a wicker chair, sit up straight, cross your leg, and down a pint of Guinness with your business partners. Lunch, TeaTime, Dinner… pints. Could start to explain the staggering bureaucracy that is a sticky point of the British psyche…
I’m in Florence now, seeing Cinque Terre tomorrow (for some see-side hiking), and going to the walled city of Lucca tomorrow night and exploring the next day. Then flowing over to Bologna, then back to Rome on the 9th.