Through out my blog I have been generally very happy about my travels in the UK. I must note that through out my adventures there have been moments, which I hold my head in my hands and wonder, “how on earth did the Brits gain and then successfully control an empire?” (yes, I am lumping the Scots with the Brits in for simplicity’s sake). Here are a few examples.
While watching the Junior Hockey championship go into overtime at a university run pub the channel was changed. This is fine considering most Brits don’t know hockey and the probably assumed the game was over. However once we convinced the bartender the game was going to continue he decided to help us change the channel back…by picking up the phone. This is no lie, in order to change the channel back the bartender had to call downstairs to the other bartender who had control over the remote control. To complicate matters it seemed the bartender downstairs was dyslexic so by the time the right channel was rediscovered the game had ended and we were informed through a telephone call from Canada that team Canada had in fact won.
Heres a couple more examples. Imagine arriving at a bus station with a reservation slip in your hands and then finding out that piece of paper does not actually mean anything accept that you pissed away some money and have to find another way home. Imagine taking mandatory courses that claim to promote ‘fundamental academic skills’ which are only offered in the second term. Imagine trying to recycle (HA!) and finding out that in order to recycle glass you have to walk another block and put it into a separate bin. Another bin is however positioned right beside you , its called the rubbish bin (garbage dumpster).
Imagine receiving numerous threatening letters, straight out of ‘1984’, from the TV licensing bureau, which swears up and down that you have a TV and that they are going to get you. Now imagine calling the telephone number they provided which states ‘report that there has been a mistake (and you have no TV)’ only to find that there is no option in their elaborate phone system to actually allow you to report that you don’t have a TV. I am still under investigation apparently, and don’t have a damn TV.
Now I have no answer as to how they achieved so much with such a frustrating system and judging by the abundance of frustration humour in Monty Python I assume it is not simply because I am an outsider. I did have one hint, unexpected and random violence which occurs under the guise of a seemingly reserved civilization. This occurred on Friday when I was walking with a friend of mine from a place of business which serves alcohol quite late. We were walking towards home when, ahead of us, we heard a loud mob of drunken males from the street we had to turn down. We waited until we thought they had passed only to turn down the street to find another mob of drunken -and seemingly angry- Scots. We were now out numbered, surrounded, and my friend was on crutches. They sneered at us and asked ‘wh-air yah fromeh?’ ‘Canada’ we sheepishly replied, this changed the facial expressions of many in the mob from ‘I want to see you bleed’ to ‘Oh! I got a cousin who lives there’. “Whatc’ah doin-out hure?” another asked. My friend piped up “Where’s the nearest chippy (chip shop)? Milliseconds later a cheerful chorus of directions and pointing gave us a socially acceptable escape. With a block between the mob and us, my friend stated, “dude, we almost died”. “Yah, thank god for Canada and Chippies,” I stated. No sooner had the words escaped my mouth but a traffic pylon nosily landed 25 meters away from us, the mob had struck again. Please note that this is not exclusive to Glasgow or Scotland, hell its probably not exclusive to the UK but I’ve heard more tales out of the UK that involves people getting beat up for no reason than anywhere else in the world. I hear the fear of violence is also an effective method of controlling the masses. I’m just saying…there was likely a historic link there somewhere.
On an up note, I went to Edinburgh last weekend. It had beautiful sites, awesome people and parties and more importantly it had a violence free setting! I’ll talk about that tomorrow though.