I love how the American and British forms of the English language can be so different. Take the night I met an American Jelly Baby. How did I know he was an American Jelly Baby? Because he spoke to me in an American accent, that’s why.
There I was in the chip shop, minding my own business, ordering my fish and chips (not fish and fries, because the chips we get here in the UK are the thick variety, not skinny like you get when ordering a hamburger at a drive-thru), and he taps me on the shoulder and asks
“Is this the way to the freeway?”
I’d no idea what he was talking about.
“Do you want an Earl Grey tea with that, or something cold?” the assistant behind the counter asked me.
“Can’t stand Earl Grey,” I said. “Besides, who wants a cup of it with their British fish and thick cut chips? Doesn’t Earl Grey tea come from China? Or is it India?” The assistant just raised her shoulders, not really knowing what to say, and off she went to get my order of fish and chips.
“Umm, the freeway?” I heard the American Jelly Baby ask me again. “I need to get there, sir, for the holidays, and I’ve left Mrs Jelly Baby and the Jelly children in the Jelly automobile on the first floor below us.” I looked at him in that way you look at somebody when they say something strange to you.
“We’re on the first floor. Don’t you mean the ground floor, the one below us?” I ask.
“No, sir, I mean the first floor. This is the second floor, isn’t it?” I shook my head and then remembered an embarrassing moment I had on my last trip back to the States.
“So that’s why it took me three and half hours to find a packet of Reese’s Big Peanut Butter Cups in Bloomingdale’s” I declared. “They told me I’d find them on the second floor, and up I went to spend all that time in the Ladies Petit department! I’ll tell you this much. I got some very odd looks. Why don’t you guys have ground floors in the States, they are, after all, on the ground!”
As the Jelly Baby shook his head, somebody asked the assistant if they could have fried chicken. She shook her head. “We don’t eat that here in the UK, we grill it now. It’s far healthier. If you want the fried variety then head down to that fast food place on the ground floor. I think it’s called Tuckey Fried Chicken or something like that.” The customer put on his cowboy hat, got on his horse, and left. I wondered how he’d got a horse up on the first floor.
“Horses are only allowed on the ground floor,” I heard somebody shout out.
“I’m an American cowboy. What’s the ground floor?” he shouted back.
“Ah” I announced, “you mean the motorway; you know, the road for motor vehicles…the motor…way? You probably call it the freeway because we don’t charge to drive on them. Yeah?”
By now, the American Jelly Baby was getting rather confused with what I was saying and produced a packet of French chocolate digestive biscuits.
“I’ll give you these cookies…I mean biscuits, if you tell me how to get to the freeway, sir. They’re biscuits because they are from our trip to France and are crisp and snap when broken, unlike cookies which are soft and squishy.” Your ‘Mary Berry’ taught me that.
“Deal!” I shout, and I ask the assistant for a cup of Yorkshire tea. “We can dunk those French biscuits into our British Yorkshire tea after our fish and thick cut chip meal”. The assistant took no notice of me. Instead, she seemed to be engrossed in her ‘Fifty Shades of American Grey’ paint chart.
I told Mr American Jelly Baby the route to the motorway and wished him a Merry Christmas.
“Thanks” he shouts back “Oh, and it makes far more sense to me, driving on the left hand side of the road when you guys have so many roundabouts which you go clockwise around; the same as a clock and watch goes…clockwise! We don’t have many roundabouts in the States. We have those four-way stops that don’t really keep the traffic moving. I guess we haven’t figured that one out yet. Happy holidays.” With that, he disappeared shouting out that he hoped we didn’t mind that Piers Morgan was not coming back. Piers who? I wondered.
“I’m not going on holiday. Are you?” the assistant asked me as she wrapped my fish and chips in her Fifty Shades of Grey paint chart.
“I never go away at Christmas,” I replied.
At that point I was woken by my alarm clock.
“Thanks to Hugh for doing his first “Hugh Says…” post – check out his awesome blog!”
I’m Steve and live in a village called Alford (home of Emeli Sande & birthplace of the Aberdeen Angus cow) in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
I currently work in the IT industry (yawn)
I just want to share my ideas, findings and general reflections with whoever wants to listen.
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