Saturday, August 26, 2006

A polite society

Good news! Turns out the place we're staying in until September 1st has a free wireless connection. We found this out today while they were showing our little flat to potential long term tenants and learned that all we needed to get was their password. Whew. I never thought of myself as an internet junkie, but I guess you never know what you've got until it's gone (or at least not available to you for awhile).

Jeremy set his computer up in the room so he can play games on it, since our TV has terrible reception, and (let's face it) British television is rubbish. We did entertain ourselves the other night watching a show called "Traffic Cops" which I guess is their version of "Cops" in North America, only much less graphic and violent. People try to make friends with the police instead of yelling at them or throwing punches - even when they are informed that their unlicensed, uninsured vehicles are going to be taken away and CRUSHED. Yep, this is the new law in London now - the police are authorized to take the vehicles away immediately. They also seem to take great pleasure in telling people their vehicles will be reduced to a block of tin. Not like back home where you have a period of time to produce the missing documents. They also have this computer program that records and analyzes every license plate number to find out whether the vehicle is registered. Very cool stuff.

It's hard to explain to somebody who hasn't been to the UK about the politeness of the British people. They can appear completely snobby yet unfailingly helpful all at the same time. Last night we left the window open and were treated to the sound of a girl shouting insults at some guy in the street around 2am.

Not the "f-word" or anything like that.

"YOU STUPID BLOODY SELFISH BASTARD!" (Imagine this with a very thick accent - it was so hilarious)

A motorist yells at another driver who has just cut him off:

"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE ABOUT THEN!?!!" (accompanied with a dirty look)

We looked at each other in amazement. No "you f-ing asshole where the hell do you think you're going?!!" No shaking hand or middle finger protruding. No loud horn being blown. To add to this seemingly calm tantrum, the other driver actually appeared upset by the outburst and drove away quickly trying to look unconcerned.

I personally must admit to getting bouts of road rage (though I never admit to it at the time) when somebody does something stupid while driving. My grumblings or shouting - that they never hear - usually involve much more colourful language and occasionally the ever-popular hand gesture. Haven't seen anybody use that here even once. I should also admit that it would be much less satisfying to shout "what do you think you're about?" to somebody instead of the very loud "F you" that we're used to hearing / using back home. If you don't believe me find a place where you can yell without people thinking you're crazy and try it. Maybe we Canadians aren't so polite and friendly after all...


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