Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jeremy Kyle and my Obsession with Bad Television

Americans see English people as refined, minus people with a cockney accent. Even then, we believe Eliza Doolittle can rise above and proclaim that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the Plain. Say the word British to an American and they most likely associate tweed, tea, mustaches and royalty. I am here to tell you that the UK has some inhabitants that would make the reddest of necked Ozark cousin-marriers blush.

The little BBC TV that filters across the pond is mostly the highest rated, funniest, most dramatic and best TV the UK has to offer. We never get to see the stupid game shows, inane talk shows and simply terrible shows that make up 80% of British television.

Lucky for you I am obsessed with terrible TV and make a point of seeking it out. Recently Larisa and I forced ourselves to watch 6 hours of MTV's Teen Wolf just to see how bad it really was. Then she introduced me to the best and worst show in all of England.

A typical guest. 

Jeremy Kyle is similar to Jerry Springer and Maury Povich in that he takes the dregs of society and puts them on display for the entire country. Jeremy also berates his guests before reading out the results of the DNA or lie detector tests. He always manages to find the most terrifying subjects who look even worse on his pristine stage. I have watched countless episodes with a look of sick fascination on my face.

How does your boyfriend not have his own reality show?

This parade of freaks come from all over England, Scotland and Wales to be yelled at by Jeremy for mutilating their faces, mistreating their partners and being ungrateful to their parents. I have never seen anyone 'normal' on the show, even the put upon girlfriend who hates her boyfriend's skull tattoo. He finds the grossest examples of humanity and I can't stop watching.

Here is a deliciously auto-tuned video that perfectly displays Jeremy's guests. Quite simply it is simultaneously the best and worst thing I have ever seen.

Yeah it's the best thing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Larks and Parks: My first trip to London

Soon after I arrived in this country London was set upon by disaffected youths who set everything within sight on fire. Well everything they couldn't steal that is. Naturally this was not an ideal situation for me; so I stayed in safe, quiet Banbury for the duration.Then I got lazy and went to a bunch of other places to see loads of other things, none of which were in London. Finally I decided ot was time to go, on the most blustery day in weeks. Here are some of the cool, weird, strange, and amazing things I saw.

Remember that Lily Larisa was holding? It pollinated all over me. So I put my shirt inside out.
I tried to find the most British man; he's a top contender.

Can you spot me?

I tried to get a full shot of this stylish, hurried man, but I was foiled.

I cried a little when I saw this. I miss tacos so much.

What must they think of us?

You remember that old American favorite: hot dogs in a jar. No, me neither.

I attempted to get a picture of this man's Marc Jacobs tote bag. He saw me out of the corner of his eye and sprinted away.

A nice Japanese woman capturing the moment her husband got pecked by an annoyed swan.

Ah, young love. So classy.

This statue represents America. I can see it...I think.

Princess Diana's memorial fountian.

This teen's questionable haircut is the last thing I saw before getting on the train home.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reunited and it Feels so Good

Back together at last. Larisa brought my toothbrush back to me.

The Best Day of My Life

Update from Scotland 5: Yesterday I left Aberdeen and took the train to Glasgow. The ride was uneventful and I had a great day with my friends! Wait, that doesn't sound like my life. What actually happened was this:

The train ride was fine from Aberdeen to Stirling minus one minor embarrassment of me trying to shove my receipt instead of my ticket into the ticket taker. At Stirling we made our regularly scheduled stop, but did not move after all the passengers had alighted.

The train conductor informed me that the train was delayed. Acceptable. After an hour we were moved to busses. Fine. And then we were suppossed to transfer from the busses to another train. OK. But the bus driver drove us to the wrong town. Read that sentance again. Fine. After the bus driver got us to the correct town (he had to stop and ask directions amid the shouts of 'yer gaun the wrang wiy!!' from the back of the bus) an hour later, we got to a train in some tiny pisspot village.

40 minutes later I finally got on a train headed to Glasgow. Got to correct train station once I was in Glasgow. I specifically asked the employee who sold me my train ticket what train and platform. And he puts me on the only train that skipped the stop I needed. So I had to get off the train and turn around, backtrack, while holding back angry tears.

It took me 8 hours to get from Aberdeen to Glasgow. A journey that should take just over 2.

This is my life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Updates from Scotland

Update 3: Aberdeen is far and away the windiest city I have ever been to. It's like being in a gloomy wind tunnel. That rains on you.

Update 4: I found another thing I'm allergic to. It too me all of three days to realize the woolly blanket on my bed was making my allergies go nuts. I've been sniffing like an invalid all week.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Update From Scotland

Update 1: I am in Scotland.

Update 2: I forgot my toothbrush in England. This is the second time I have gone to Scotland and forgotten my toothbrush. Maybe I subconsciously want to have Scottish teeth.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Falling Pregnant: A British-ism I Despise

Bun in the oven, knocked up or in the family way are familiar expressions on our side of the pond. But in the UK people use the phrase "fell pregnant." I first became aware of this phrasing during a 5 hour "Underage and Pregnant" marathon with Larisa.

Many of the girls and their mothers say their daughters "fell pregnant" before shrugging apathetically. Having a baby at a young age is far more acceptable in this country than in America. There is much more support for young mums so many drop out of school, live in government housing and raise their children. The downside is that many young girls don't finish their education and continue a cycle (most of the moms featured on "Underage and Pregnant" are single moms with multiple kids).

Specifically, Banbury is full of young mothers carting around two or three kids and I see many pregnant teens hanging out in the city center with their friends. It is a trend here and across the UK.

My issue is the phrase "fell pregnant" specifically when the parents say it. Your 15/16 year old child did not slip and "fall" pregnant, she didn't catch it like a cold. The wording makes it seem like the girl was struck down with an ailment that was inevitable/ that she had no part of. Take responsibility: you got knocked up. Own it.

Even More Wales

I never thought I'd have this much to say about Wales. Here are some shots from my afternoon at Cardiff Castle. It's so strange that the residents of Cardiff breeze past this castle with nary a second glance. It is a giant, towering, stone encampment that dominates the city skyline.

In the promotional video I learned that an area that was once a Roman army camp has evolved into tennis courts. There are the remains of an ancient priory in the park next door that is barely marked and littered with beer bottles. A chapel that was built in 1100 now stands opposite a mall.

Cardiff castle has sprawling lawns that lead to a man made moat and mound upon which rests an ancient Roman fort. I climbed three flights of imposing metal stairs to get to the courtyard. Then up two rickety wooden staircases to get to the tower. 
I paid money to climb these unsafe stairs. 

Then up a set of steep winding stairs to reach the zenith. It's times like this I remember that heights make me nervous. I was shaking as I stepped out on the gusting landing where I snapped the unimpressive picture seen below. 

Worth it! 

Then I went into the former residence of a long line of noble, possibly inbred, lords and earls and so forth. Because the place had been sacked, and bombed and burned the property went through several remodels. However there were still many impressive pieces inside.

What is arguably the creepy part of the grounds, at least when you're alone, is the WWII bunker. One of the outer walls was converted during the war to house the residents of Cardiff. That was useful because the city got bombed to smithereens at one point.

 But it is unnecessary and scary to be walking down a dark shadowy hallway then have the speech from The King's Speech begin blaring out of the speakers suddenly. And anyway it sounded better when Colin Firth said it. 

sound advice.

Finally here is a Roman firing wall that is now next to a gift shop and a cafe. Not nearly as imposing nowadays. 

My  final complaint of the post (I swear) is that I kept running into non-Welsh people my entire trip. This picture was taken by a Minnesota woman who lives and works in England. Lame. I met French people, Germans, Aussies and vaguely Eastern European people but hardly any Welsh folks.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gratuitous Harry Potter (Owl) Post

I went to Oxford on Monday, which was lucky because the rest of the week has had terrible weather. I ventured forth in search of Harry Potter shooting locations. At first I was dismayed because the tourist information worker said that the next Harry Potter tour wasn't until November. I died a little inside. But thankfully a man across the street was offering similar tours; and I even got a student discount!

For your nerdy viewing pleasure:

The great hall. 

The tree under which Malfoy got turned into a ferret.

The cloisters which were in Goblet of Fire.

The grand staircase.

A great place for quidditch practice. 

Where the gang learns to dance for the yule ball.

In conclusion, I am a nerd.