Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 339

USA musings today

I love living in America, but the weather sucks right now. It doesn’t matter what country you are in, if the weather is effing miserable and grey, it’s just plain crappy. Come on East Coast America, find me a glimpse of sunshine – I’m desperate!

Anyway, someone asked me if there are little things that get my goat about ‘America’ (in general). Not really. But there are some little things that I think of now and then, that I’m like: ‘Oh, I don’t get it.’

This is the list of some of those things….

1. Ravens vs Roast. On a Sunday in the UK, we’ll pretty have our entire Sunday afternoon taken up by a roast dinner and walking or drinking in the pub. Here, the Sunday afternoons are taken up by watching American football – especially near Baltimore for the Ravens’ fans. Nothing else matters, and nothing else will do. There must be no other social engagements because the football takes precedence (at least that’s how it appears πŸ˜‰ ). Sure, in the UK, footie is equally as important (it’s just that the British fan will have his roast on his knee in front of the telly whilst watching the Spurs match πŸ˜‰ ). American football here still bemuses me.

Yorkshire pud, innit

Yorkshire pud, innit

2. Walking. In the UK we go for walks for pleasure, to see a bit of the countryside or coast in yer wellies. I’m not so sure this is a past-time here. Exercise, yes – I see people walking for exercise, but not necessarily pleasure (although I am sure there are those that do). In the UK we walk and say ‘good morning/afternoon’ and wotnot and nod in a gentlemanly/ladylike way, admiring each other for taking a pleasurable walk. Here, people seem to be checking their heart rate monitors.

What a happy bunch of walkers!

What a happy bunch of walkers!

3. Healthcare. Sigh. It’s been nearly 18 months and the USA healthcare system still baffles me. When I phone up the docs they seem to want my entire life details: insurance number, mother’s maiden name, blood type, star sign, first pet’s name and if I take cream in my coffee. Well, not quite, but that’s what it feels like. And the constant referrals – Specialist Doc So and So for this that and the other. I just want to speak to one person and have them help me, please. I am so used to the UK system – this private medical stuff confuses my poor British head!

I read a couple of articles about Americans experiencing British healthcare recently, which I think are pretty ace:

a) By Lt. Col. Robert Bateman is an infantryman, historian and prolific writer, who is just finishing up his posting in the UK:

‘Health. They (the UK) have something here called the National Health System (NHS). I can only speak to my own observations. My wife was pregnant, and her first appointment with her midwife was AT OUR HOUSE, for TWO HOURS. Throughout her pregnancy, midwives answered my wife’s questions, soothed her concerns, gave her advice, and medically monitored her general situation. When she went into labor, and we went to bring our daughter into the world, they were there again for a low-risk, natural delivery in the hospital during which we received all-around excellent care. After the birth, my wife’s (by now, very trusted) primary midwife visited our home four times in the first ten days, just to make sure we were getting on alright, breastfeeding was going well, etc. Total cost to us: $0.’

Yes, I remember it well. It was BRILLIANT what the NHS did in the UK when I had Harry. Fact.

b) Shameless actress Emmy Rossum said on U.S. telly this week how she became ill in the UK and was given free healthcare. She said she got ‘amazing’ treatment from the NHS and claimed that ‘the hospitals are amazing there’. Top banana πŸ™‚

The NHS (not everyone loves it, but I rate it!)

The NHS (not everyone loves it, but I rate it!)

My British friend recently told me a very funny story about his experience of American healthcare where he was referred to three doctors who couldn’t diagnose him, then he got a referral via one doctor to her very own husband, whose office he attended for a diagnosis and was made to sit in a chair with wrist restraints attached to it…..Weeks later the diagnosis was revealed to him and his wife on his answering machine message at home. The message stated that he totally and conclusively had a ‘disease of the face’. He didn’t – he had a dry sinus infection. Now, however, we always ask him how his ‘disease of the face’ is πŸ˜‰

4. Social studies at school. My British friend as a ten-year old who has just arrived in the USA and is taking it all as a newbie in school. He’s a little more advanced in some areas, and, of course, it’s all very, very different – the way things are taught and what’s taught. Especially social studies. He told me that he has to sit through various stories of 1812 and the War of Independence, where the teachers single him out as ‘the Brit’ (baddy). He’s being very positive about learning something new and he’s trying to catch up on American history and the whole culture attached to it, but he’s more au fait (naturally) with Alfred the Great, Henry’s six wives and the poets of WW1. He did get told that he could choose if he wanted to make the Pledge of Allegiance in class. He chose not to.

Social studies of the USA

Social studies of the USA

Three things that made me smile yesterday in America-land

1. 1066. Yesterday when I bought something in a store it came to $10.66.
‘That’ll be $10.66, please,’ said the checkout girl.
‘A very important year!’ I said, then felt a bit embarrassed and passed her my card.
She looked bemused – and rightly so.
πŸ˜‰

William and Harold in the Bayeux Tapestry

William and Harold in the Bayeux Tapestry

2. 24 hour clock. My clocks and phone are on 24 hour time. Or, as my American friend noted: ‘You read the time military style.’ πŸ˜‰

3. Male role models. I have noticed recently, in all the child care places that I take Harry, what a great bunch of older kids there are looking after them – especially the young, black, male kids. What a fantastic bunch they are – inspiring, polite, talented, friendly. Such great role models. Respect to them πŸ™‚

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16 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 339

  1. Dena Barrie says:

    OMG I LOVE your blog!!! I am an American living in Germany, married to a Brit. It is so fun to read how you are finding living there! Thanks for making me smile today and also letting me realize that I am not alone!!

  2. Andy says:

    Great post! Every one of the ‘little things’ is dead on and even after living here for bloody donkey’s years they all ring 100% true with me.

    Oh and as a Spurs supporter, thanks for the shout out! πŸ™‚

  3. Melissa S. says:

    Dear Claire Bear, πŸ˜‰

    When I was young our Sundays centered around Sunday lunch (which many times was a roast by the way) and NOT, I repeat NOT around watching American football. That is something that has happened in the last twenty years and like you, it makes me sad. I know people who schedule their entire day around those stupid games. I bet some of them don’t have a family sit down dinner which is a real shame. I miss those days. (To be fair, I know for many Brits, Saturdays are all about football too!)

    I LOVE Sunday walks! (I should have been English dammit!) Because we don’t watch American football, when the weather is nice we spend our Sunday afternoons walking the dogs at the park. I love it (and it’s another reason why I’m miserable in the winter.) The only thing that would make them better was if I were rambling through the English countryside.

    I suspect an American child being schooled in Britain as we speak is not being taught American history. Sorry, but when in Rome you have to do as the Romans do (except say the Pledge. I agree with that one.)

    Ian had to take a Celtic Literature class in college and he revealed to the instructor that he was half-Scot. Big mistake! She called him out quite often and would break out into a rubbish brogue. It made Ian cringe.

    Ha,ha – I so wish I had been there to hear the 1066 joke. Would have died laughing and then we would have both looked like numpties. πŸ™‚

    Mel x

  4. chriselle64 says:

    I just spent a week during Christmas in Derbyshire and loved walking the English countryside! Walking doesn’t need to have a purpose (although the pub at the end of our walks was a nice goal) and I think that’s a place where Americans fall short in their understanding. Really loved this blog post!

  5. There’s some sunshine here in Atlanta! It’s a bit cold but the sun makes it all better! Beats the miserable grey weather back home! Also, your pic of a Sunday roast has made me really want one!!

  6. Bob says:

    Speaking of American football, saw this today and reminded me of your blog.

  7. linda says:

    When I was younger, we used to have Sunday Dinner every Sunday. We all had to be home for it, too, or my dad would be very annoyed. If I was out on a date, I either had to be home, or bring the boy back with me for dinner! And now I’m a health care worker, so we use the 24 hour clock at work. I think it makes things so much easier. I just mentioned to my son last night that I tried to put the microwave on a 24-hour clock, but it gives me an rror code. Sigh. Back to the 12 hour clock for my appliances! (My cellphone is always on the 24-hour clock!)

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