Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yes, Future

I'm back.

The first flight from Gatwick to Atlanta was delayed by two hours which meant we missed our connection at Atlanta. We had to take the next flight to Orange County two hours later, by which time the Atlanta summer thunderstorm had started. This delayed our take off enough that we made the Orange County night curfew by exactly 10 minutes, avoiding a detour to LAX, over an hour's drive away from home. We were just four hours later than originally promised. The trip outbound was delayed two hours and we missed our connection on that leg of the trip too. Since there was no other direct connection to the UK that day, we went home and took the same flight the next day, delaying our arrival in the UK by 24 hours, one whole day. Both initial delays were due to problems with the equipment, which is to say something that was entirely within Delta's control. If an airline has bobbins equipment, they should be the ones who have to foot the cost of the delays it causes, not the paying customer. I'm told one Delta is one of the best out there. If this is the case, the best is not good enough. I am filing this away for future reference in case I'm ever tempted to fly again.

England has changed a great deal over the last twenty years while I've been away. It's far nicer; the people are much more polite to each other and to acquaintances, and the ones in shops and restaurants are much more service-oriented. The kids are better educated and better spoken (although the one in a shop who gave me change for twenty five pounds when I gave her twenty pounds and five pence could probably do with a refresher course – polite, though). One friend said that this might be because I was now out of the service-person's all-sucking event horizon – I'm no longer a leather jacket-wearing youth, but quite clearly a middle-aged 'ma'am' , and I have money – but I think it's rather more than that. There seems to have been a change from No Future to Yes Future. Ironic, really, that the English papers are currently filled with woe about the negative effect of ten gazillion immigrants on our British way of life and with endless stories about knife attacks and small children murdered by gangs. Seemed nicer to me. I didn't get beaten up once.

Only one person ribbed me for being working-class – a primary reason I left the class-added second-rate country in the first place – and they did that under the safe haven clause of parody. When I said I liked America and the people were very nice there, they said, "That's because they don't know you're a northerner," and when I said I preferred Ecclestone's Dr. Who to Whassname's Dr. Who they said, "That's because he's a northerner." Yeah, yeah, I get it. I'm off back to the country where everyone thinks I speak just like the Queen and the only remaining thing I have to do is convince people that the Queen is a bad thing and Americans are better off without one.

I did fling myself too far into Englishness at one point. Seeing a case of scones with cream and strawberry jam in a café at one point I demanded, "I want one of them!" and, of course, got one of them. After about three bites I remembered I'm allergic to strawberries, or poison satan fruit as they are more usually known, and had to cease "working on it". ("Working on it" is American English for "eating food from a plate".) That'll teach me. I had to go on an emergency chemist run and figure out the English word for the American drug Benadryl. (It turns out to be Benadryl, so it wasn't all that hard.) Nothing happened, so I think I got away with it.

Hello Orange County, 93 degrees F and muggy.

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