One Week

Okay, it’s not really one week since I’ve come back, as I arrived last Saturday, but last Thursday was my last proper day in Chapel Hill. What have I done so far? Not a lot, really. Aside from resisting an irrational urge to visit Reykjavik, that is.

Bicester seems smaller. More so than when I came back from Manchester, which is rather strange. I imagine I'll get used to it again eventually.

But enough of that. Yesterday, I was reintroduced to the joys of Jeremy Paxman (for any Americans reading — Paxman is one of the BBC's most feared interviewers, as he doesn't accept dissembling answers from politicians). Today, I discovered that The Daily Show archives the main story of the day, so you too can enjoy this wonderful slice of American politics (although I have no idea as to how long the link will be valid for, so be quick). Why can't our local politics stories be this bizarre?

Tomorrow, I will do something productive. I promise.

currently playing: Patti Smith - Gloria

The Gentleman's Interviewer

I’ve missed Jeremy Paxman.

currently playing: The Mighty Wah! - Come Back


It’s so cold. So cold…

Today's (possibly) interesting observation: walking around Tesco's, I noticed several American brand names which weren't here a year ago: Welch's, V8, and a few others which I can't remember now. The Americanisation of Britain continues apace (I know that'll make some of you unhappy).

I've installed a wireless network in the house, so I now have the ability to use my iBook outside. That's assuming that it stops raining sometime, of course.

Hopefully, these blog entries should become more coherent as the week goes on, but in the meantime, here's a random link explaining what happened to Saturday morning TV in America during the 1990s.

Really should be getting to bed now, but I saw this link and thought it should be included. It's certainly one way of making your point, I suppose…

currently playing: Kenickie - Can I Take U 2 The Cinema

Back Home

What Now?

That's a very good question. Having deftly sabotaged my life, it would be nice to have some idea about what to do next. Answers on a postcard, please…

Anyway, back in Britain. Yes, it has been raining. At the moment, there's a big black cloud hanging in the sky, just waiting to relieve itself upon Bicester. It's surprising just how little a town can change in a year, you know.

Everybody likes to joke about the lax security in US airports, but we were out of Gatwick in less than half an hour, having sailed through Customs with a considerable amount of consumer electronics. I am thankful for the Jamaican cigarette smugglers who occupied the official's attention while we trundled through with our packed trolleys ($220 in excess baggage costs. Yay!).

One last thing, before I go back to fretting about what to do next; it's really strange how a simple thing such as fonts on road signs can make a country feel different. In America, the signs are set with a stern typeface, and are very concise (you're lucky if you get more information than a sign saying 15-501 East, for example). Back home, the signs have a slightly quaint and friendly looking font, with copious amounts of detail. This is actually fairly deceptive, as American roads tend to be more amendable to making mistakes — you just come off at the next exit (not very far) and turn around, whereas here you can find yourself joining the wrong motorway really easily if you don't pay attention to where you're going…

currently playing: The Cure - Inbetween Days

For Tomorrow

Still not quite over the jetlag yet. Hopefully, normal service should resume tomorrow.

currently playing: PJ Harvey - Good Fortune

Ever So Slightly Delirious

Why does everybody sound so English?


currently playing: The Flaming Lips - Race for the Prize

Leaving On A Jet Plane II

Goodbye, Chapel Hill. See you all again in October…

currently playing: Dexy’s Midnight Runners - Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)

If These Words Sound Corny, Switch It Off

It’s almost time to leave. I think it’s only fair to say a few words about the people I’ve been living with this past year. The popular perception of Americans back in Europe is not particularly positive; they’re all supposed to be arrogant, fat, slow-witted flag-wavers who hardly ever leave their borders. For college kids, well, they’re all frat boys and sorority girls who spend all their nights binge drinking.

There's nothing like that here; it has been an honour and a privilege to be around the members of UNITAS for the last eight months. They've been kind and friendly, even after I spent the first semester locked in my room. There's Sona, a graduate student who has been to most of the countries in the Far East; he never gave up on me, was always been wiling to help at a moment's notice, and has been the best neighbour I could possibly ask for. Kavita is going to be such a wonderful teacher; she's full of life, boundless enthusiasm, and she has been practicing reading stories aloud to anybody on the hall who can't move fast enough to escape. Paul will have deep and probing conversations about the meaning of existence at five in the morning, asking the questions that we never dare to say out loud. Parthe has often got up as early as I did, so I applaud the gentlemanly conduct we indulged in, leading to only one occasion when we left our rooms at the exact moment for a shower. I could go on for a long time, but I'll finish with Laura. I don't think I've met anybody quite so dedicated to the causes that she believes in. This doesn't mean that she's a mindless zealot, though; like all good journalists, she's interested in the truth than being caught up in partisan spin. On top of that, she's funny, keenly intelligent, and a supporter of Liverpool. I suppose I can overlook that last one. As I said, it has been an honour to be with them; my regret is that I didn't do it sooner.

(For anybody who's wondering, Rishi is French. Otherwise he'd be up there as well. One of the greatest friends I've had the pleasure of making)

The city itself is full of friendly people, always ready to stop and pass the time of day, with a public transport system that easily outstrips anything in a comparatively sized British town. No, it's not perfect. But what is? If you look hard enough, you probably will find racists, narrow-minded people, and so on, but is that really any different from home? Where 142 voters in my home town honestly thought that a National Front member should represent their views in the local council? No, it's not perfect, but neither are we.

My biggest fear is that I will lose contact with these people. I hope that I will know them for the rest of my life — that we shall always remain close, even if the physical distance between us is vast.

On that note, I turn sideways to the sun, and in a moment I am gone.

currently playing: New Order - World

Safe And Reasonably Well

This is probably old news to a bunch of you, but it looks as if Raed survived Operation Iraqi Freedom…

currently playing: R.E.M. - Country Feedback

The American Experience

It turns out that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I’m deferring to the Americans for these last few days — just keep thinking ‘jam’ lest the language infection gets to you too) isn’t quite as disgusting as it sounds. It’s rather nice, actually; the jelly (no, I’m sorry, I’m now having visions of a jelly sandwich, wobbling all over the place. I may not have totally lost my roots, it seems) prevents the peanut butter from sticking to the roof of your mouth as well as providing a sweet contrast to the slightly bitter butter.

Um, yes. Do I think about these things too much?

It all started on Sunday night, when Laura was shocked to discover that I had only then ordered my first take-out pizza. Further questioning revealed that there's many American things that I haven't experienced, and she vowed to make sure I didn't go home without doing some of them. Hence the sandwich and the braiding of styrofoam packing (that one might not be a American tradition. Just in case you decide to turn up for the braiding).

Two days left. Staying happy until the end…

currently playing: Idlewild - American English