Monthly Archives: March 2008

British News Tidbits

I find that I save miscellaneous news stories of local interest, where for me “local” could be either related to the UK or the midwest of the US.  I keep these open in tabs for a few days without finding myself sufficiently inspired to write a great deal about any one of them.  So in continuing the spirit of a similar post from a few days ago (“Hotdish“) I present a new feature, Local News Tidbits.

Headline in the Telegraph: “I don’t like England much” says Prince Harry.  I would like to point out that even in my darkest moments as an expat in England, I never said anything like that.  As Mary Beard hilariously noted he does not have that option.

This one is best as a direct quote:

Latvia’s president took his interior minister to task today for calling the English a nation of pigs out of anger at British tourists urinating on the Baltic state’s highly symbolic Freedom Monument.

Sad but probably reflecting the beer-guzzling, stag party culture associated with British tourists in central and eastern Europe.  Not to mention a typical Friday or Saturday night right here in the centre of my town.  I can honestly say I had never seen public, outdoor, non-enclosed, 4-stall temporary urinals before they appeared in the middle of my street this summer.  And I saw a guy peeing on the bank on my corner just this weekend, pretty typical for a weekend around here.  I’m pretty sure I never saw this before I moved here, in Minnesota people tend to go discreetly into the bushes or something.  But here it’s apparently okay for men to randomly pee on the street corners in full view.

From the Guardian, “Religious schools show bias for the rich.”  Good reason to cut off this cozy and difficult to comprehend relationship between church and state.  The school system here is a total mystery to the non-local.  When I was growing up in the US, you went to the school that the government said was for everyone in your neighborhood.  The only exceptions were the rare Catholic school kids but in my circles this was unheard of.  Special interest schools existed, but they were merit-based; gifted-talented centers and music immersion programmes.

Those of us in the Bridget Jones demographic are more likely to work lots of unpaid overtime.  She says as she sits at her computer for the 12th consecutive hour.  Yes, I’m taking a break to blog, but I will get back to my work task for the evening shortly.   And then, tomorrow morning, when I am waiting for the arrival of my awesome sister, I will again be at the evil machine.

You may recall, last year my sister arrived on May day, ironically enough.  This year she arrives in March, and we are heading to Dublin for a bit of Murphy’s.  Cheers!

Ode to IKEA

Anyone who has been following the ups and downs of my English life will be glad to hear of my progress this week and the manner in which it drives more up than down feelings. Tuesday I had a new book-case and cabinet delivered to my office. Wednesday I had a massive delivery to my home/flat from IKEA. I have been, for the last few days, in all spare moments doing IKEA assembly. This will, in the end, give me loads of storage space–new wardrobes (3! not quite an American walk-in closet but not bad!), cabinets, drawers, a desk, all the things a girl needs to get organized in a small apartment with lots of miscellany. At the moment, one could only say that I am in the “it is darkest just before dawn” phase since the flat is completely trashed. In order to get the old stuff out and the new stuff assembled, the level of entropy in the flat has increased significantly. However, this is one person who is optimistic and convinced that the project has been well worth it, and things are about to improve significantly. Now, I may have to sleep on the floor tonight if I don’t make enough progress to finish the wardrobes and get the clothes off my bed, but that’s a small price to pay for what will be a significant improvement in everything in very short order.

The staff where I live were quite stunned when I said I wanted to assemble the IKEA pieces myself; they had assumed that I would call them in to assist. Clearly they do not know me well. IKEA furniture is brilliantly designed, and overall the process is like the assembly of my favored Lego models in terms of the utilization of basic engineering principles. I am enjoying the process immensely, and sleeping very well after all the physical exertion although I do have some interesting bruises and blisters to show for it.