Tag Archives: england

Reasons To Be Cheerful #65: When Friends Come To Stay

8 Apr

Now that I am at least 65% real grown-up (ie: co-habiting and cleaning the house regularly) I take a different sort of pride in having people come to stay. No longer will they arrive to a dirty flat and half of my rumpled bed. These days, guests get a hoovered landing and a blow-up bed*. And while I wouldn’t – strictly speaking – compare myself to Tony Blair, Middle East peace envoy – it is clear that I’m playing my part in bridging the north-south gap.

*Those of you looking for hosting tips, please feel free to read this post in the educational manner of one reading Pippa Middleton’s party planning guide.

1. Being a Proper Person

Not that long ago, I thought that house pride was something reserved only for clean freaks and desperate housewives of telly fiction. But now, having reached the grand old age of 27, I see the error of my ways. I now know that the only acceptable way to treat a house guest is to leave a chocolate mint under their pillow. Well, that or to provide them with a clean towel and an inflatable mattress to blow up.

Call me Susan

Just call me Susan

2. Showing Off The Sights

If you read my Salford blog, you’ll know that I live in a place of wonder. A city cleverly disguised as a Manchester offshoot with a dubious cathedral and a ‘vibrant’ community. Showing off the Mocha shopping parade (home to a KwikSave) and the beautiful old cinema (now a church for Christian fanatics) are activities that are bound up with great pride. And that’s before you’ve even reached Manchester proper. London might have its fair share of crazies, but the wannabe Bez dancer with the plasticine face and killer dance moves belongs to the north.

3. Facing Domestic Challenges

The main reason that we are all so fat these days (apart from the saturated fat, kebabs and increased portion sizes) is that convenience and technology have replaced good old fashioned elbow grease. No more scrubbing wet clothes on the drying rack or burning off those kcals in the pantry. Modern kitchens will kill us all. The point is, that that amazing blow-up bed that I so proudly offered to my friends, well it was impossible to bring down. A good hour of rolling and folding and putting a teaspoon in the valve/nozzle/thingy were what it took. But I took it all in my stride.

A battle of valves

A battle of valves

4. Acting the Tourist

Even though I’m already a demi-tourist in Manchester, it’s much more fun being a ‘visitor’ when you’re with real bonafide visitors. It suddenly becomes acceptable to buy a keyring with your photo on it, from a gay club. For £3. It also provides you with a debating team for reasoned kebab shop disputes on the economic disparities between North and South.

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: You can’t keep your friends in a Hole. They tend to go home)



Reasons To Be Cheerful #12: Americans

11 Apr

DISCLAIMER: This post might offend some people. They may find it reductionist, crassly stereotypical and poorly informed. They may well be right. But here goes anyway:

statue liberty

1. They Make us Feel High and Mighty

It has oft been said of Brits that we have a sense of moral and global righteousness. Well, if that is so, then thankyou Americans, for justifying it. Your brashness, overzealous nationalism and lack of passports really does bolster English feelings of superiority.

2. The Accents

Gahhhh. What is that nasal sound coming at my ears? Ah yes, it’s a voice from over the pond. But no matter how grating the accent may be, it is almost unerringly loud and recognisable. Ergo, it’s easy to avoid

3. HBO

Game of Thrones, The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, True Blood, Sopranos… I tried to find a bad one to make this funny, but I couldn’t.

4. Customer Service

Here in the UK, we’re pretty happy with a smile and a nod if you’re at a bar; if you’re in a shop, forget it. In America on the other hand, it’s hard to take more than three paces inside a store without a sales assistant offering to help. The former is obviously preferable, but having taken note of their US counterparts, many British businesses are now trying a little harder not to be entirely rude. When the result is somewhere around mid-Atlantic, things are pretty good.

5. Americanisms

They help us remember how right and sensible the original English language is (see point no.1 for superiority complex).

‘I’ll write you soon’ – just doesn’t make sense.

‘I could care less’ – this one does make sense, but it’s the opposite of the sense you’re trying to make

‘Season’ and ‘take-out’ – just no.

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: Relentless self-belief and enthusiasm tends to trump self-deprecation, and I’m pretty sure trump is an Americanism) 

Reasons to be Cheerful #2: Optimism at the Post Office

27 Mar



REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL: It would appear that the Post Office is in the know about  an impending heatwave.