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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Bend It Like Callahan

* I'm beginning to get the notion that there's some fellow named "Beckham" who is something of a celebrity here. It's mostly the fact that his name has been in the front page headline of some tabloid every single day since I've arrived that has suggested that to me.

* In America, fast food service jobs are held mostly by Hispanics, in order to prevent the customers from wasting the staff members' time by talking to them. England doesn't have much of a Hispanic population, but fast food places here have gotten around that difficulty by employing Eastern Europeans who can't understand the customers instead. Last night, I stopped at a sandwich shop. "Cheddar Cheese Sandwich" was listed on the menu. But how was it prepared? A typical cheese sandwich here might include pickles and mango chutney -- not bad, actually.

So, I asked the chap behind the counter, "What's in the cheddar cheese sandwich?"

"Cheese."

Well, I had suspected as much, since cheese is constitutive of a cheese sandwich. (See, I'm already learning to talk like a fancy pants philosopher!) I was fairly certain there would be bread involved as well. But my curiosity was still not satisfied.

"What else is in it, besides cheese?"

He looked at me quizically. "Ham? Tuna salad?"

Did he mean that the cheddar cheese sandwich always includes ham and tuna salad? Was he saying he could put those in if I wanted him to? Was he suggesting other sandwiches I might prefer, since I seemed so suspicious of the cheese?

Who knows... I just said "Thanks anyway" and walked out.

* I'm finally getting settled in here. Last night, for the very first time, I remembered the name of the road I live on, Buck Lane, when I wasn't on the road! The fact that my house is prominently named "Buck Cottage" has been a big help in my learning the road name in as short a time as two weeks.

I'm getting accustomed to the English driving on the left. When I first arrived, I could think, "I'd look left here in the States, so I'd better look right." But I've been here long enough that now I can't remember which way I'd look in America, so I'm actually much worse at crossing streets than I was two weeks ago.

* My friend Jan Lester has been trying to tell me that the name of the subway here is pronounced 'tyube,' not 'toob.' But he also tried to tell me that the rail stations have been 'moving,' so obviously he's just winding up the Yank.

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