Monthly Archives: November 2011

Guide to understanding the British

If you know a Brit, this handy dandy Anglo translation guide might come in handy (and uh, be dandy). Not sure where this originated, but I love it.

Christmas, John Lewis style

I’m not the kind of person who listens to Christmas music right after Halloween, or puts the tree up right after Thanksgiving. As far as I’m concerned, November 14th is way too early to be even contemplating the holiday season.

But the latest Christmas advert by British retailer John Lewis, which was released a few days ago, absolutely has gotten me into the Christmas spirit. Watch.

This advert just captures the magic of Christmas in Britain to me.

Some fans of The Smiths are up in arms about the use of a cover of “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” for such commercialism, but I like it.

(It should be noted that “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” was used in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” as well as “Pretty in Pink” so am failing to see the big whoop.)

Gis a poppy

Royal British Legion's paper poppy, part of its Poppy Appeal

In the U.K., you’ll find poppy pins worn on people’s lapels in the days (and weeks) surrounding Remembrance Day (otherwise known as Veterans Day in the U.S.). They’re everywhere – on the young and on the old, on the streets, in offices, shopping centers, parks, restaurants. Everywhere.

Such is not the case in the U.S., where it’s uncommon to see poppy pins, particularly on Nov. 11.

Even on the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website, the FAQs page on Veterans Day reads: The wearing of poppies in honor of America’s war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day. I would argue it’s also rare to see Americans wearing poppies on Memorial Day.

After spending some time looking online for a U.S. source selling poppy pins and coming up with nothing, it became clear why I’m not seeing these poppy pins anywhere. Sad. Gis a poppy. Please. Our country needs them!

On a side note, the U.S. is where the poppy tradition originated, at least according to Wikipedia so it must be true. Poppies were first used in the U.S. in 1920 to commemorate soldiers who died in World War I.

Like Crazy

Have you seen the movie trailers for Like Crazy yet?

I love a good British girl-American guy love story and am like crazy to see it. It’s still in limited release and not playing anywhere near us but I remain hopeful. I already know that I will LOVE this movie like crazy.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Lunch for one (anglophile)

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my search for the right bento box – and found one that fit the bill. Not only was it a good lunch solution but it doubled as a London double decker bus.

So, what about British lunch bags, I could hear you ask. How about this?

You know how I feel about union jack items – LOVE THEM. This little insulated neoprene lunch bag by Dabba Walla is machine washable, stain resistant and perfect for holding your your little (or big) anglophile’s lunch (ie. cheese ploughman’s, scotch eggs, crisps, pudding, etc.).

Celebrating 50 years of Private Eye

Private Eye Magazine celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London has dedicated a gallery to commemorate this very British phenomenon.

If you’ve never read Private Eye, check it out here. It’s British satire at its best, along with politics, humor, cartoons and real investigative journalism. I think of it as a more seasoned, more stately Mad Magazine.

Private Eye: The First 50 Years runs through January 8, 2012 at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Admission is free.

Pronouncing David Bowie

The BBC has helped settle a dispute and I wanted to share.

David Bowie is indeed pronounced BOH-ee (-oh as in no) rather than BOW-ee (-ow as in now), which is commonly how Brits pronounce it (well, except for David Bowie himself).

For the record, while we are at it, his supermodel wife is Iman (pronounced ee-Man), rather than eye-Man.

Now that that is out of the way, Let’s Dance.

Remembering Bonfire Night

I’ll never forget my first Bonfire Night in the UK. Fireworks. Beer. Heavy rain. A big bonfire burning the effigy of a guy. All in remembrance of one Guy Fawkes.

Who? This guy.

George Cruikshank's illustration of Guy Fawkes, published in William Harrison Ainsworth's 1840 novel. Thank you, Wikipedia.

Guy Fawkes is best known as the brains behind the Gunpowder Plot, a failed plot by a small group of English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant King James, by blowing up Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder. The king was tipped off, foiling their plan on Nov. 5, 1605 and Fawkes was tortured and executed. He should not to be confused with this guy:

Yes, I did mistakenly think that it was Grey Fox Night that we were celebrating. Not so far fetched – we do have a Groundhog Day, now don’t we?

For me the 5th of November will always be Grey Fox Night.

Fit for a queen

Be the envy of your anglophile friends with these amazing pillows by Naked Decor. They’re designed by Supon, a Thailand-born, U.S.-based graphic designer, who specializes in distinctive home accessories for style-minded homeowners.

They also sell luggage tags, book ends, clocks and yes, even coasters with the queen’s head. All are part of their British Invasion collection. Note: They currently only ship to the U.S.

New money

Today the Bank of England has begun circulation of a brand spanking new £50 banknote. Behold!

I’ve previously discussed the beauty of British money. The latest banknote features the portraits of Matthew Boulton and James Watt, inventors of the steam engine, which later led to the manufacturing of coins that were difficult to counterfeit.

Note that this is the first time that two portraits have appeared side by side on the back of a Bank of England banknote. Real history in the making and fodder for future Jeopardy episodes.

Even more impressive is the fancy stuff. Since I’m not in the inner circle to get my mitts on one of the first £50 banknotes, I’ll leave the description to the BBC:

“The new version of the £50 banknote has a thread woven into the paper, rather than printed on it.

There are images on the thread of a £ symbol and the number 50 which move up and down when the banknote is tilted from side to side.

When the note is tilted up and down, the images move from side to side and the symbols switch.”

What??!! Numbers moving up and down?! Images moving side to side?! Symbols switching?! Is this currency or something courtesy of David Blane?! Why can’t the US put this kind of thing together? Oh US Treasury, I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but please step up your game.