Tag Archives: england

Words I thought were amusing when I first came to England

On 1 October 1996, I landed in England for the first time.

It’s a long story as to why I’m still here. But in my first months, as a study abroad student at Exeter University, I wrote pages and pages of journal text. Mostly prose, snatches of poetry and song lyrics, quotes from novels. (I was twenty years old and an earnest English major.)

There were also lists. Lists of the contents of rolls of film, lists of pubs I’d visited (I was twenty years old and American.) And lists of the amazing new vocabulary to be found in the United Kingdom. I present you with an actual listing here.*

  • fruit machine
  • football
  • ring
  • telly
  • biscuit
  • coach
  • minibus
  • for let
  • MP
  • lie in
  • knickers
  • pants
  • shag
  • bonk
  • snog
  • hire
  • sacked
  • pensioners
  • full up
  • bedsit
  • track suit bottoms
  • sod off
  • bugger
  • take the piss

An eclectic lexicon to say the least. Try reciting the list like a bit of a performance poem and it’s even better.

I was twenty years old and then, as now, I liked words. All sorts of words…

*The original text, which is labelled “glossary – more words and expressions and stuff”, also defined each of the terms. It was a true work of scholarship.

Dear Brown Boots

Dear Brown Boots,

I miss you.

I can’t remember where or exactly when I bought you, although I know it was in a secondhand shop in the southwest – either of America or of England. I sort of think it was around five or six years ago, and I know for a fact that you were once with me in Arizona because my sister was there too and thought you were pretty groovy. (I think you and I were both a bit pleased about that.)

Dear Brown Boots, you zipped up the side and looked good with jeans.

Dear Brown Boots, you helped me feel brave.

Dear Brown Boots, can you remember, did I buy you when I left England for half a year, to spend time in the desert, to take a hiatus in the city of my birth? I know that you were there around that time. I believe we used to sometimes go to gigs downtown together. Did you come out that night the Kissers, from Madison, played at Plush and I danced and danced? Do you remember Rasputina at Club Congress?

Dear Brown Boots, you know, I could have used your chunky heels the other night at the Anson Rooms. I still enjoyed the band but everyone in the crowd seemed very tall.

I think I have given up looking for you. I know that you travelled with me to Bristol and we settled in first one place, then another, and a third. That last time we moved, I know you found a spot to safely perch. I remember you were here. And I know we continued, as we always had, to go out from time to time together. But now I cannot find you.

Dear Brown Boots, I hope wherever you are you are happy. I hope you are not being held prisoner, covered in dust.

I hope wherever you are, you still sometimes dance. I do.

 

Dear Brown Boots,

 

I miss you.

 

I can’t remember where or exactly when I bought you, although I know it was in a secondhand shop in the southwest – either of America or of England. I sort of think it was around five or six years ago, and I know for a fact you once were with me in Arizona because my sister was there too and thought you were pretty groovy. (I think you and I were both a bit pleased about that.)

 

Dear Brown Boots, you zipped up the side and looked good with jeans.

 

Dear Brown Boots, you made me feel gooood.

 

Dear Brown Boots, so did I buy you when I left England for half a year, to spend time in the desert, to take a hiatus in the city of my birth? I know that you were there. I believe we used to sometimes go to gigs downtown together. Were you there that night the Kissers, from Madison, played at Plush and I danced and danced? Do you remember Rasputina at Club Congress?

 

Dear Brown Boots, you know, I could have used your height the other evening at the Anson Rooms. Everyone seemed very tall.

 

But I have given up looking for you. I know that you travelled with me to Bristol and we settled in first one place, then another, and a third. That last time we moved, I know you safely found a spot to perch. I remember you here. And I know we continued to go out from time to time together. But now I cannot find you.

 

Dear Brown Boots, I hope wherever you are you are happy. I hope you are not being held prisoner. I hope you are not covered in dust.

 

I hope wherever you are, you still sometimes dance.

At the End of the Road

In early spring, when I returned to England, one of my heart’s desires was to go to a summer music festival. I hadn’t been to one for a couple of summers, I guess, and was really adamant this summer needed to include at least one. My friend K agreed a festival needed to be on the agenda and we spent time on and off over the next few months trying to find one that suited us, and to try to recruit others to join us. Bestival, Green Man, Shambala, Big Chill…various options were put out there, chewed upon, rejected or fell through. But then we chose the small and quirky Croissant Neuf in Wales. Purchased tickets! Booked time off work! Sorted.  And, would you believe, I also procured tickets to End of the Road, with another friend. Hurrah!

One day (a Wednesday, I think it was), as Croissant Neuf approached, I discovered quite by chance that I was the owner of a very interesting retina. A detached one, in my right eye.  From eye docs there was talk of surgery. From tk there was talk of “wot ’bout my festivaaaaal?” Never fear. This is not a sad tale: dear reader, I made it to the festival. My eyes and I enjoyed it quite a lot. It was a lovely distraction, being in Monmouthshire, amongst bright colours and music and trees and creative, childish fun all around. (I was to be admitted to hospital the following Monday, and didn’t really care to dwell on it. Although the op did go really very well in the end. I now have a buckle on my eye, not that you’d know to look at me, of course, but I think it’s a quirky thing to have.)

 

My favourite performer was Martha Tilston, who is awesome.

 

Martha Tilston in the solar powered Big Top

So that was August.

Soon September came and with it approached…End of the Road. 5000 people in the Larmer Tree Gardens in north Dorset, with really good music (and lots of North American musicians – even better!). And I heard there would be peacocks. Of course I was excited.

Yep, there were peacocks.

Some highlights? Well…

Best use of brass on a Friday night: Modest Mouse

Songs for a Sunday afternoon: Dylan LeBlanc

Laurels for lovely lyricism go to: The Low Anthem

And the award for making me cry (a little bit, in a really nice way): Iron & Wine

Fantastic stuff, friends.