Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I say Tomato, you say tomaaaato

Okay, that title isn't nearly as funny as it sounds. Just hum the song to yourself and you'll get the idea...

Tomaaato = "soft A" sou
Tomato = "hard A" sound

Alternate Title: "Why It Suddenly Seems like Everything in Britain is Different"


"It's Amazing How We Don't Understand Each Other Even Though We're all Speaking ENGLISH"

the other title I could have used was

"The Old Nasty Man and His Wet Undies"

The problem with that last one is that the mere thought of him in his undies is so upsetting that I didn't think I'd be able to write about it...

I've been reading the Magazine Man archives, which cover a very wide range of topics (all of which brilliantly, written, including those guest-written by BB - freaking priceless). As I was trying not to spit out my drink from laughing so hard, I realized that the Old Nasty Man was a good story after all (even though I will never be the writer that MM is)...

so here goes!

A teacher friend of mine, K, texted me while I was on the miserably hot bus home the other day to see if I wanted to take a walk in the park. My answer was an enthusiastic HELL YES and so we met up for a long walk around the Serpentine River and then a pint at my local. Not surprisingly, our conversation rotated around our experiences in the classroom and what we thought of teaching British kids (she's an Aussie) and learning the ropes of the British school system. After several funny stories and a fair amount of walking, we found ourselves near the "beach".

Have to add a side-note here. The "beach" is a term used VERY loosely. It's in the river, this small little space that's been roped off so people don't get run over by rowboats and paddleboats, with no sand or anything - just pavement. Now I'm a bit of a water snob, having grown up here:

But, I love to swim and ordinarily would jump at the chance to jump in some nice, refreshing water...

Unfortunately my water-snobbiness reared it's ugly head when I realized that these guys (see below) were going to be the swimming companions (and had in fact been in the water all day) as had their ancestors for probably the last 100 years.

Ever swum in goose poop? How about swan droppings? Duckie dump? Ya didn't think so.

Kate and I both agreed that anybody who would be crazy enough to swim there should be quickly locked up or put under examination. I don't want to think about how gross that water looked...

THEN we see him.

The old man is standing nonchalantly on a set of stairs near the "beach" chatting with a lady. I actually stopped dead in my tracks in shock - then poked Kate hard, causing her to snort out a laugh as we rushed past trying not to look, but knowing that this would be the FUNNIEST PICTURE EVER. Or maybe the grossest one... I dunno. Immediately I told her that I was going to blog about this, and that if I had the guts, I'd take a pic of Old Nasty Man in the Grey Undies as he stood dripping with all of him there for you to see.

I chickened out and took this one from a safe distance

If you click on the image to enlarge it, you'll see Old Nasty Man in the left corner of the stairs.
Not sure why you'd want a better look, but... whatever floats your boat.

You can't even see him really - consider yourselves lucky. I guess the kind of people who swim in dodgy green water with dozens of water foul all around will also stand dripping wet in public in their unmentionables.

Okay, enough about Old Nasty Man.

The Tomaaato Tomato Thing

Okay, accents and a few slang terms aside, I really didn't think it would be that difficult to communicate with the natives here...

In Canada // In England

you say "pants" // it's "underpants"

hockey // ice 'ockey

sidewalk // pavement

gym class // PE (physEd - they don't know what gym is)

speechless // gob-smacked

sweater // jumper

recess // breaktime / playtime

lunch // dinner

dinner // tea

Okay, I could on with this little Brit-speak lesson, but you get the point.

Today, during the morning assembly, the Deputy Head (vice principal equivalent) was talking to the kids about bringing healthy packed lunches for "dinner". My poor Canadian brain started to pound as they talked about things like "puddings" and "fresh veg". Sure, I can understand what these things are - it's not hard - but then a child suggests Tomaaaatos to use as sandwich filler. Oh fuck, I'm thinking - please don't laugh. It got worse when the Deputy Head praised the student and shouts "TOMAAATOS! excellent choice!"

I look down at my lap, thinking how immature I'd appear if I started giggling during an assembly since I'm a TEACHER and nobody else would find what I'm laughing at even remotely amusing.

Immediately the Harrick Connick Jr, version of "Let's call the whole thing off" starts running through my head, when a voice penetrates through the music:

"Miss, is it okay is we have POTAAAATOS?"

Oh bloody hell.

Hmm at least I've got the curse words working nicely.


  • At 10:40 PM, Blogger Magazine Man said…

    Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place, but I don't see Mr. Nasty Pants (or Mr. Nasty UNDERpants as he'd be known on this side of the pond). Perhaps my subconscious mind is tuning him out.

    Glad you're enjoying the archives. BB will be esp. thrilled you enjoyed his guest stint...even if reading his stuff apparently made you realize that writing about old guys swimming in shitty water was perfectly okay. ;-)

  • At 1:38 AM, Blogger Melinda said…

    heehee - I would have had a better picture of him but I reverted into a childish, giggling little kid as we hurried past. You can only really see his outline on the stairs to the left- talking to a (fully clothed) old lady who didn't seem bothered by the saggy grey WET underwear. Trust me when I say you're all better off...

    BB was brilliant - loved how he took over your blog for a bit! "Somewhat of an Asshole" - freakin priceless. I figured if he could post pics of his brother's naked ass that I could do whatever the hell I wanted with mine too ;)


  • At 12:00 PM, Blogger Laura Coubrough said…

    I love the little differences. But the best difference between home and Britain... is the chocolate.
    Have a kit kat for me...
    Sooooo good.

  • At 6:53 PM, Blogger Laura Coubrough said…

    Hey Mel,
    I tried to comment earlier but was once again denied, so I'll try again.

    I love the little differences in Britain. But the best one, is the improvement in the chocolate.
    Have a KitKat for me.

  • At 6:54 PM, Blogger Laura Coubrough said…

    Crap... didn't check if it posted.
    I'm an idiot...
    At least I remembered what I wanted to say.

  • At 3:58 PM, Blogger Suldog said…

    Oh, Gawd. My father (not a Brit, but raised in Boston) used to say "Tomahtoes". I can imagine myself just cracking up in your place. You're a better man... person than I am, Gunga Din.


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