Monthly Archives: August 2008

From the pens of students

Students are full of lovely surprises with their interpretations of British culture. Here is a compilation of some of the choicest recent offerings (obviously without attribution, and condensed in a few places).

On British opposition to the idea of a channel tunnel:

“It would be an opportunity for ‘strange creatures’ to enter Britain.”

On political affiliation:

“The Labour Party is not particularly Communist-orientated these days.”

“The Tories get their votes from people who have an interest in the consistency of the actual order of things.”

On the changing profile of the Welsh language:

“Until the 1960s Welsh was only spoken by older people because it had been forbidden to speak.”

On Cornish pasties (as a possible early form of crossover cuisine?):

“[…] the calzone-like wraps that were eaten in the North by the miners”.

On the red rose as the symbol of Labour:

“Be careful: roses have crumbs and can hurt you (make sure you wear thick gloves if you are fuzzy).”

I do love this job…


Filed under Humour, Intercultural & interlinguistic, Work stuff

Belated update…

Wow, it’s been too long since I updated this. Life has been busy, busy, busy in the last few weeks, mostly in positive and exciting ways (though there’s been a lot of work as well).

Well, the new relationship is progressing and we’ve visited each other in recent weeks and spent some lovely time together, as well as talking a lot in between. I’ve decided to continue my general policy of not naming names here for the time being, but if anyone is still completely in the dark: he’s going on 39, is Welsh and lives in Southampton.

So the logistics of a long-distance relationship are constantly being explored; Skype is a godsend, of course, and at least we don’t have the added complication of considerably different time zones, which I know is something a number of friends have to contend with in their relationships.

Anyway, he came over to visit me for a good long weekend back in mid-July. We had a fairly lazy time of it in the end, not doing too much major touristy stuff but just relaxing, going with the flow and still doing a whole variety of things. Some of the most memorable highlights (well, the ones I feel like talking about here) were: going to a concert of John Dowland and contemporaries given by a group called Les Haulz et les Bas (we’d been talking about some of these very songs only shortly before that); attending the English department’s first graduation ceremony in many moons (which was hilarious as well as very special); meeting my colleagues and students at a party afterwards; spending a raucous evening in the park with friends and several six-packs; cooking, eating and drinking in general; getting all dolled up to go out for a sumptuous dinner at Trattoria Enoteca (caprese / salad, saltimbocca and tiramisu, together with a fine bottle of wine); getting totally and utterly drenched in the rain and not caring in the least; and sharing our favourite pieces of classical music (there were a lot of coincidences there…).

On my brief return visit to Southampton we also packed in a lot of stuff, despite it being only a visit of a couple of days. I was taken to view the Isle of Wight by night (and there was a fantastic orange moon out over the Solent), we had a day out in Oxford, we took a brief tour through some lovely Hampshire villages (thatched cottages – oooh!!), we cooked a meal while listening to the Proms (OK, he cooked, I helped), drank some 1993 Dom Perignon champagne, had a fairly impromptu picnic on the back lawn, ate Marmite on toast for breakfast (this is always a big deal for me, and even more so when there’s someone to share the experience with) and went shopping in Southampton.

We also had a very “interesting” journey from London City Airport (which I can thoroughly recommend as an airport) to Southampton, not just because we passed sights such as the Thames Barrier, Canary Wharf, the Dome (none of which I’d seen before), the London Eye, Parliament, Battersea Power Station, but also because when we were on the train from Waterloo, there was a very strange man sitting opposite. He wasn’t unpleasant at all but was decidedly odd; he had some very misguided ideas about firewall security, used his Macbook as a plate for his sandwich, went on about having been a banker or something in Manhattan, and kept ostentatiously opening his battered briefcase to reveal what could only really have been a collection of bondage gear. After he got off, we had an entertaining time discussing his oddness with a lovely woman from the Isle of Wight, who also studied Music and German (like me) and was a recorder player in times of yore (ditto). She now apparently works for one of the big two American political parties, though she was a bit cagey on that point.

The next few weeks will see me back over there. I’m really looking forward to it…


Filed under Up close and personal