most annoying things about blighty

when enidd came home (in the year which shall not be named, azathoth, stealer of lives), she thought that england would be a perfect sceptr’d isle, an earth of majesty, a seat of mars. she thought that the sun always shone on a village green and red-cheeked, beaming barmen pulled perfect pints of local cider. she thought that the world was at peace under an english heaven. living in molvania and america can do that to you, but you see, the problem was that enidd had forgotten all about slough and swindon.

yes, now that she’s been back here a while, enidd realises that like all loved ones, blighty has its faults. the man farts when he eats wheat and forgets to do anything useful unless it involves polishing the gears on his bikes. blighty, well, it turns out that contrary to memory, blighty is not all sunny days, miss marple villages, scones with jam and cream and the thwack of willow on something enidd forgets.

in fact, is it ever sunny? does it ever stop raining? those are rhetorical questions.

middle class food (locally sourced, organic, only recently mooing) is fine, most of the time. however, should you stray into a petrol station or stevenage, beware! the food you find will not compare with the hole-in-the-wall pelmeni you ate in lviv, or the meaty feast you ate in odesa that set you back nearly a fiver. however, when you think back to america (outside of san francisco), you may find it in your heart not to criticise too much.

but most of all, england is oh so expensive. in poshly-on-thames, it will cost you well over half a million quid just to buy a small, mid-terraced house. enidd would like to repeat that. five hundred thousand of your good english pounds for a two-up-two-down nowhere-to-park handkerchief of victoriana.

sometimes, in the dark watches of 3 a.m., enidd’s heart beats thumpingly, and she worries about her old age. she worries both whether she’ll get to her old age (all those fizzes, all that cheese) and whether she can afford one, which she knows is perverse. then enidd wishes that she’d been more sensible all her life, that she’d not done all those start-ups, all that travel, and that there was now half a million pounds in her bank account. 

then, on a good day, she remembers molvania, the excitement of it, the newness. it was a life a little less ordinary.

ah, well, perhaps she’ll be able to afford to retire there, she thinks. 

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enidd is researching what kind of dog to get. this is a coonhound.


Screenshot 2013 11 12 17 56 30


enidd thinks that someone has been very politically incorrect, and that this should be called an african american hound.

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q: what do dentists and personal trainers have in common?

a: they get you in some sort impossible position (mouth full of metalwork, sideways plank on ball while dipping arm under body and going into oxygen debt) and then ask you the sort of question to which a curt answer makes you look like a surly teenager.

enidd’s trainer this morning: “so, enidd, what do you think about scottish independence”

enidd: “it’s.. uh… ok”

end of.

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beware, you may get what you dream of

 a long time ago, one december in a cold,cold country she called molvania, enidd wrote this:

“sometimes enidd wonders what it would be like to go home to england again. She’d like to live in a cottage in a small town by the sea. the man would get home from work at 6 o’clock, like people used to in the olden days, and then the two of them would walk to the pub and drink warm, flat beer. perhaps afterwards they’d buy chips and eat them on the pier, watching the waves. on sundays they’d read the papers in bed, then roast some beef for friends.

enidd wonders if she’d be happy with this forever, or if she’d get bored and want to travel again.”

and now enidd has been back in england for nearly five years. she lives in a terraced cottage in a small town by the river thames. the man gets home from work at 7 o’clock, but they don’t walk to the pub, drink beer and eat chips because the man is now thin and fit, and they are trying not to drink in the week and not to eat out either, especially not anything as high carb as chips. what happens is, they go to the gym, they work, they stop working, they eat a salad meal from a bowl watching the tv and they go to bed. 

on sundays they do read the news in bed, thought it’s on their iPads. sometimes they roast lamb for friends, and sometimes their friends roast beef for them. they eat in a restaurants, or with friends, or friends eat with them. they visit family, or family visits them. sometimes it’s sunny, and they have to go cycling. sometimes there’s a film on that neither of them hates too much, and they watch that.

the dentist tells enidd – try to brush more, try to brush like this, try to floss twice a day

the doctor tells enidd – try not to eat dairy, try not to eat too much fat, watch your cholesterol

the trainer tells enidd – try more reps, try a heavier weight, try to eat a low fat diet, try harder

the physio tells enidd – try do 360 heel drops every day, try it with weights on your back

enidd is tired of trying. always trying and never succeeding.

enidd would like to be thirty again, and not have to try so damn hard.

sometimes enidd wonders what it would be live to live abroad again. she’d like to live in a big, white house in a bright, sunny country. all the trickier waitrose fruits would grow on tangled trees in her back garden, danced on by impossible insects. the local food would be fiery and fun.

the man would get home from work at eight o’clock, and go straight to his desk to Skype head office. enidd would be lonely again, just like molvania.

but at the weekends, they would have adventures. maybe enidd would feel younger.

enidd wonders if she’d happy with this forever, or if she’d get homesick again.


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eavesdroppings on the 10:47 to london paddington

seventy-something man to fifty-something canadian woman: “you could break my heart, you could. you leave me, and i couldn’t carry on. life would be over.”

(repeated, quite loudly, from twyford to taplow. sadly, canadian woman’s response was inaudible.)


young man, watching an older woman bring her dog onto the train: “i’ve seen pigs on trains.”

young woman: “hamsters?”

young man: “no, pigs… and a sheep.”


thirty-something, buying a ticket: “and my pièce de résistance – a network rail card.”

conductor: “well, we’ll see what we can do.”


woman: so it’s not abroad then?

man: no.

woman: ireland is, it’s the same as ireland.

man: southern ireland is a separate country, but northern island isn’t.

woman: but wales is.

man: it’s not. you don’t need a passport to get to wales, do you?

woman: you used to.

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