The Australians have an expression to describe the British, which is not very flattering; they call them the “Whinging Poms.” I’m not quite sure of the “poms” bit, the “whinging” is what ye would call “whining.” Obviously, it seems that when the English went to settle or holiday in Australia, they must have complained, a lot. Sometimes, I feel like perhaps I might be guilty of that here too. You’ve always got to be careful as the “outsider.” Members of “the family” can criticize all they like, but once the outsider has a go at “the family,” people get very tetchy all of a sudden. So, anyway, just in case you might have thought I was a bit too critical of living here among ye, here are 10 things I like about ye, in no particular order.
- Roadside mailboxes — Simple, clever, efficient. Even better again is the fact that the mailman rides around in an eco-friendly van.
- Free refills — Very handy, especially if you have teenagers and you’re dining out. Now, if only I could get free refills whenever I order whiskey, wine, or beer. OMG, now that’d be like being in heaven.
- “Mr. Brian”, or “Ms. Jan” — This lovely compromise between formality and informality. This half-way-house, whereby the formality does not become too deferential or stuffy. It’s like the Goldilocks of formality, it’s not too formal, it’s not too informal; it’s just right. Love it.
- Turn right on red — Trusting divers to use their noggin. The assumption being that a driver knows if it’s safe enough to proceed. We don’t have this at home. Wish we did.
- Jimmy Fallon — Great mimic, he sings, he dances, and everyone seems to like him. Seems like a really nice guy who also happens to phenomenally talented. Ditto, by the way, for Stephen Colbert.
- Shiny happy people everywhere — Some days it seems like just about everyone is in a great mood. Of course, it could just mean that everyone I meet is heavily medicated, but what the heck, it’s workin’!
- The Rueben Sandwich — OMG a good Reuben, with havarti cheese melted on it. That rye bread. Scrumdiddlyumptious! Just like another great Jewish dish, corned beef. It may be associated with the Irish, but this meat was a Jewish speciality, originally.
- The judge has to stand up in court as the jury enters — Everyone stands when the judge enters chambers. Then, when the jury files in, everyone, including the judge, stands to show respect to the men and women of the jury. Gestures matter.
- Parking — It is outrageously cheap and parking spaces are seemingly omnipresent. And, not only that, it’s ridiculously easy to park, since more often than not you don’t have to parallel park. I’m such a moron now when I go home to Ireland and try to park my mother’s car on the street. I’ve lost the skill of parallel parking the car. I always end up one or two feet from the curb; which in Europe is a sure sign of a “learner driver.”
- Irish whiskey is cheaper here than it is in Ireland — Yes, obviously, I saved the best ‘til last. It’s un-ba-freakin-lievable when I think of it. The Jameson distillery is less than 20 miles from my mother’s house and yet, a bottle of Jameson costs more, much more, there than it does here. God bless America.
And if you could bless the rest of the world while you’re at it God, that’d be just grand. Thanks.
Brian O’ Nuanain runs “Across The Pond And Beyond”, a company that organizes international vacations. You can reach him at acrossthepondandbeyond.com