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How much is that doggy in the window? Well, it’s not important I’m not getting it anyway…

“Have you ever thought of getting a blind dog?” I get this question a lot. And on mischievous days I reply that “Well, no. Blind dog and blind owner would be a disaster wouldn’t it?”

 

But yes, I have actually thought of a guide dog. I have even tried walking with them several times and in several settings and I love it. I’m also amazed at what the dogs can do and how they lead me through crowded places. But there’s one problem. When you don’t walk around with them, they have to be taken care of. Fed, watered, patted, played with and let’s not forget that the poop and vomit as well. And this is the part I’m not ready to deal with.

 

When I graduated after my bachelor’s degree, most of my blind friends were with me on that. Besides, they, like me, felt that they were doing just fine with the white cane, so why be tied down by a dog.

 

But as the years went past, even some of the most avid guide dog resisters have gone and gotten themselves a pooch and they keep telling me that I will soon change as well.

 

But guess what, I haven’t. And I probably won’t anytime soon. As much as a dog is a good mobility aid, I really am doing just fine with the cane. And as much as I travel I think the cane will be my preferred mobility aid for some time to come. It doesn’t need vaccines a passport or special travelling arrangements.

 

The guide dog converts seems astounded that I’d quite happily have a baby when I won’t have a guide dog, reminding me that babies too poop and vomit. And while this is true, I am more okay with that since I’m generally more of a people person than an animal one. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, but I’m happy to hand them back to their owners when I’m done playing with them. A bit like what people who love kids but don’t want them say about kids.

 

Maybe I will change my mind about guide dogs one day, but if I don’t its okay. Because guide dogs aren’t for everyone. I have two blind friends who gave back their dogs because they felt it wasn’t the right thing for them.

 

I may perhaps choose to have a pet dog one day. I’m a lot freer to choose the breed etc. And it won’t require the same level of training and maintenance to keep up skills. But that’s in the future if ever. For now, I’m dog free.

New Song: Love Me Jeje

Lioness (Feat. Chidinma) Love Me JejeOn my birthday which was two days ago, I finally released my track featuring Chidinma entitled Love Me Jeje.

Jeje is Pidgin English and means something like happily, fully, or something along those lines. The song has received really great critique and a lot of people who normally don’t like Afrobeat love this one.

I am grateful to have released my fourth single without the backing of a big label. And to have my song out there alongside big names in the industry. I have faith in this one.

The song can be purchased on iTunes
And it’s Also available on most streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, and GooglePlay and so on.

For my visually impaired readers the video is me and Chidinma performing the song while models are acting out the story. The story is about a couple who are going through hard times before things get better. I believe you die, says the girlfriend, which means I’ll trust you till the end. The video looks invissible to me even though I did include it on the post, so in case screenreader users wanna watch it, I added the link at the top.

Episode 19. Gone

Ambulance sirens woke me around noon the next day. Last night had been long and exhausting. The police came half an hour after we called them. They had told us to stay put where we were. We had only gone a short distance away so the hanging corps wouldn’t insult our eyes for more than what was necessary. They had driven us both back to Emma’s. Emma, who had been home, had been surprised to see Markus and me coming back with two police officers, and even more so when I told her why. But she’d calmed down pretty quickly and made us all hot drinks while the police were questioning first Markus, which didn’t take long, and then me which took long. Especially after I told them that the man we’d found was my ex stepfather
They had been very interested to hear about how he had disappeared after my mother’s accident in London ten years previously and how he had just disappeared, only to come back and threaten me ten years later. After three hours, they were done.
I was exhausted when they had left, but too wired to fall asleep. Emma, who took me aside to tell me that she really liked Markus, offered him to stay the night, which he accepted. But he had of course left at the same time as her in the morning to get to work. I had noticed him getting up and even kissing me on the forehead before he left, but I was too tired to remember if we had exchanged any words.
I got up and stretched. I was curious to see what was going on. I drew the curtains aside and looked out of the window. My window faced Emma’s garden and I could also look straight into Gerda and Amund’s garden. When one of them, usually Gerda, was out, I was able to see what she was doing. But I wasn’t seeing anything there, so I put on a dressing gown and went downstairs. I opened the front door.
Four men dressed in white, were carrying a stretcher between them. I wasn’t able to see who lay on it until they turned to put it inside the ambulance.
Gerda was pale and lay completely still with her eyes closed. I was wondering if she could be dead. But then I noticed one of the men bending down to say something to her. – So she must at least be alive, I thought. A middle aged man with silver hair came out of the house with something that looked like a rug sack or an overnight bag over his shoulder. He put it in the ambulance next to the stretcher and stroked Gerda’s hair. Her adopted son, I guessed.
The stretcher was now strapped in place and the ambulance doors closed. The man did not come in the ambulance.
Feeling a bit like a young version of that old snooping woman you always find in crime novels, I retreated inside to get dressed. I wanted to try and catch a word with her son before he left. I gathered he’d go in his own car to the hospital.
Five minutes later, I came out just as he was unlocking the door to his car.
“Excuse me, but may I ask what’s happened to Gerda?”
He turned at the sound of my voice and looked me up and down.
“Who are you? He asked.
“My name is Sandra. I am visiting my aunt who lives here,” I pointed to Emma’s house, “and I’ve spent some time with Gerda.”
I knew I was exaggerating how well I knew Gerda, but I wasn’t doing anything unethical and immoral.
“Yes. She had a nasty fall this morning when she climbed out of her bath tub. I’ve told her countless times to get a shower, but will she listen? Anyway. It was lucky I was coming today to help with something around the house. She appeared to have broken one leg and has a mild concussion. But she’s ninety, so you know, it’s serious.”
I nodded.
“Send her my regards,” I said. “Maybe I’ll come visit her.”
“I will,” he said and entered his car.
“Who is taking care of Amund?” I asked.
“”My wife is on her way,” he said. “But if you don’t mind, can you keep an eye on the house just so he doesn’t disappear before she gets here?”
“No problem. I’ll do that.”
“Thanks very much.” He held out his hand. “I’m Rune by the way.” Then he got into his car, started the engine and drove off.
I felt my stomach rumbling, and went inside to make breakfast. I kept looking out of the kitchen window to see if Amund would try to make a run for it. But so far, he was behaving himself. I couldn’t see him, but I assumed he was inside doing whatever he usually did, which I didn’t know what was. I wondered what it was like being senile, or dement or anything like it. I wondered what their internal world looked like and if they made sense of the outside world at all.
My phone rang and I went upstairs where I just managed to answer it before it went to voicemail. It was DI Tina Karlsen, the female police officer who had interrogated me the night before.
“I hope you’re fine after the shock yesterday,” she said.
“I’m ok. I even managed to sleep a little last night.”
“That’s good. I just called to check if you’re ok really and if you’re at home. I have done a little research on your ex stepfather and I’ve got a few questions for you.”
The doorbell was ringing as I hung up. I had descended the stairs during the conversation and I was on my way into the kitchen to check on Amund again. But the ringing was incessant so I went to open the front door. An elegant lady in a navy blue skirt suit stood outside.
“Are you Sandra?” she asked.
“I am. How may I help?”
“I am Mona, married to Rune.”
I knew what she was going to say before she said it and I got a sinking feeling in my stomach.
“Amund has disappeared.”
My first instinct was to apologize. I had promised Rune to watch the house after all and I had been careless for about a minute. It was typical how things always happened when you weren’t watching for them. Like when takeaway delivery people came at the exact moment you’d gone to the toilet. Although this was of course a lot more serious.
“I watched the house all the time, except when I went upstairs to get my ringing phone.”
Mona stood thinking for a bit, before she said “Well, it’s not your fault. He can’t have gone far and this is not the first time he runs away, so I’ll look for him. Don’t you worry?”
I found it strange how he’d taken the opportunity to disappear in that small gap of time when I wasn’t watching. As if he had been watching me and found the right opportunity to escape. Which again made me wonder if he’d maybe had a clear moment when it happened.
DI Tina Karlsen arrived fifteen minutes later. Shook her head at an offer of coffee, but thanked yes to a glass of water. She had a file with her, not unlike the one Merete used for her work, only this was much bigger.
“Let’s just cut to the chase,” she said and put her glass down on the kitchen table.
“What did you stepdad do in London?” “He was a freelance writer. He was working as a stringer, in this instance meaning London reporter for a couple of National papers. He was also writing for niche magazines in both Norway and the UK. Finance was his area of expertise.”
“Did he often travel to Norway when he lived with you and your mum?”
“Yes, fairly often, perhaps once a month.”
“I see,” DI Karlsen replied slowly. “I know this is a very private and sensitive question, but I really need to know this. Did he ever assault you in any way?”
“No, what do you mean?”
“Sexually.” She looked away for a brief second before fixing her eyes on me.
“Not at all. He was a good stepdad while I was living at home.”
“Ok.” Said Tina. “You see, he was reported to have raped a young woman around your age in 2005. But the case never got solved due to lack of evidence.”
“Really?” I was genuinely surprised.
One thing I have learned to do is to read upside down. Not for any other reason than it being cool. At least I’d thought so as a child. But it had come in handy sometimes. Like now.
“Can you tell me the name of the girl?” I asked, pretty sure she couldn’t as it would be against her professional code of conduct. She shook her head just as I predicted.
“Not at this stage I’m an afraid,” she said.
I had already seen the name though and it sends chills down my spine. The girl had been Laura Nilsen.

Episode 18. The Meeting

I was a little nervous. Tonight would be Markus’ and my third date and I had invited him here since Emma claimed she worked late. Although I suspected that she too had a date. But I had just played along. I figured she’d tell me all about it if it went well, or if it went very badly. I was making dinner for us, and I hoped we take a trip in the motor boat in the summer evening. Mica was laying down and observing me, hoping I’d either give him some food, or accidentally drop some. For dessert, I wanted to make a raspberry Pavlova, but however much I tried, my meringue refused to get crispy.
I looked at my watch, and to my horror realized that Markus would be there in half an hour. And I had neither showered nor changed. Having swam in sea water for the past three days; my hair was stiff and unruly and just needed a wash. I turned down all hobs on the cooker and went upstairs. Mica followed, disappointed at not having gotten anything and to see what I was up to.
Twenty minutes later, I was showered and dressed, but my hair was still wet. I decided to leave it. Make-up was more important. As I went over to the dressing table, I saw the messenger icon blinking on my phone. I pressed on it absent-mindedly while I rummaged through my make-up bag for primer and foundation. I assumed the message would be from Melissa or some of my other London friends, but when I looked to see, it felt like my stomach was plummeting down towards my feet.
“I’ll be in the magic forest at 9PM. Be there. Do us both a favour. You can’t escape anymore.”
I sighed. Why did my ex stepfather have to ruin my evening like that? I did not of course intend to go to the magic forest. He couldn’t force me to do anything. I was innocent and he only wanted to torment me.
“You have to go,” said a small, nagging voice in my head. And deep in my heart I knew the voice was speaking the truth.
Luckily Markus was ten minutes late this time. I am an expert at putting on my make-up very fast, so that also gave me time to blow dry my hair a little bit. When I opened the door to him, he kissed me briefly on the lips before handing me an exclusive looking paper bag. “You told me you love Prosecco, so I brought some. And some chocolate as well. Lindt.”
I smiled and thanked him and gestured for him to come inside. Mica was standing shyly behind me, and Markus bent down to pat him. Mica sniffed him tentatively and apparently decided that he was accepted, because he waved his tail.
“And for you little fellow,” said Markus. “I brought some doggy treats.”
He produced a bag out of a plastic bag and put it down in front of Mica.”
“Give him one,” I said.
Markus opened the bag and Mica greedily ate the two treats Markus gave him.
“You’re friends for life now, I said.
“It smells lovely,” he said as we entered the kitchen.
“I hope you’ll like the food. Unfortunately, the Pavlova I planned for dessert didn’t work out so well.”
He came over to where I was standing by the cooker and put his arms around me.
“I know something that’s better than Pavlova,” he said. “Only if it’s cool with you,” he added quickly.
“You mean the Lindt?” I said teasingly. He slapped me playfully.
“Sure. Of course I mean the Lindt. What did you think?”
I laughed and kissed him. And went to the fridge to open the wine. It was 7PM and a pretty good start to the evening.
I waited till after the dinner to show him the message. The food had tasted nice. And apart from a couple of burned wedges, the rest of the potatoes had turned out perfectly crispy.
“I really don’t want to go,” I said.
Markus looked me in the eyes, his expression was serious.
“Don’t be a coward Sandra. You have to go. The sooner you face him, the better.”
“But it’s going to totally ruin this evening,” I said. Sounding like a suborn child to my own ears.
“It’s not going to ruin everything.” He picked up his wineglass and came around to sit next to me.
“It’s a good thing he wants to see you tonight actually, because I’m here. He can’t harm you as long as there is someone else there.”
“I nodded and put my head on his shoulder.
“It’s 8PM now. Shall we try that Pavlova? I don’t think I can enjoy the other dessert you had in mind just now.”
Even with the soft meringue, the Pavlova actually tasted ok. Afterwards we cleared the table together and walked out into the summer evening.
The smell of BBQ, the laughter of people and the song of the evening birds accompanied us as we entered the path towards the magic forest. There was a chill to the evening. Or maybe I just felt cold for what was ahead. So I had put on a summer jacket. We didn’t talk much, but we held hands. And Markus occasionally squeezed my hand as if to assure me that everything was going to be ok. I would go as far as to say that with the surroundings, this evening walk would have been very romantic had it not been for the fact that I was going to face the man who had made me run away in the first place.
We could see Ramshaug now and my heart started to beat faster. I had prepared exactly what I was going to say in my head. I was gonna tell him to stop tormenting me and make it clear that I had not played any role in my mother’s death. Then I would turn around and leave. We would be back early enough to have a glass of Prosecco perhaps, and one of crazy things that were going on around me would be over.
As we got closer however, something looked as if it was terribly wrong. The torch was lit despite it not being dark outside. Like Nellevine, Ramshaug was automatic nowadays. Surely the light shouldn’t have turned itself on now.
“This is very strange,” I said pointing at the lights. “I don’t like it.”
Markus nodded. Undoubtedly strange yes.” “Do you think perhaps he could have somehow gotten access to the torch?”
“I doubt it,” Markus said. “If he lives abroad and have no relation whatsoever to the lighthouse torches, it’s very unlikely.”
As we got even closer, we could work out a figure among the trees surrounding the torch. So he had arrived. I asked Markus to stop for a moment.
I drew my breath and squeezed his hand.
“You can do it,” he said. “Go now. I’m right here.”
But as I got to the torch, I saw that my ex stepfather wasn’t waiting by the torch as I had expected. In stand, I was met by his dead body hanging limp from a tree. I felt the colour draining from my face and my knees buckle under me.
“Oh God. Oh fuck.”
I looked up to see Markus staring at the corpse. He kept repeating sear words to himself and seemed fixed to the spot.”
“Police. We need to call the police,” I said in a voice that didn’t sound like my own.
Markus just stood there staring. I rose slowly and went over to him. He didn’t look at me until I’d yanked his arm twice.
“Let’s call the police,” I repeated and took my phone out of my pocket. In that instant, I heard a sound behind me that made me turn. Nobody was there except Markus and me. No one that I could see anyway. But I had heard a twig break as if someone had stepped on it. Then, all of sudden, Ramshaug’s light went out.

Episode 9. Looking for grandma

Looking for grandma
June 9th.
The next morning I went online to see if I could track down my paternal grandmother Arlette Johnsen. I was hopeful, but I was prepared to be disappointed. Just because Gerda hadn’t seen any obituaries in any of the local or national papers, didn’t necessarily mean she was alive. She could have died in another part of Norway, or even abroad.
The amazing thing about Norway is that all information about individuals is public. If you want to know somebody’s address of phone number, all you need to do is to make an internet search, or use a smartphone app, and voilà. I often wished it was like that in London the times I managed to misplace work contacts. But with social media, finding people had become easier all over the world. But the crazy thing about this public information thing is that you can even check how much money a person makes by going to the tax registers. It’s perhaps handy if you’re hunting for a millionaire spouse, but otherwise I’m not really a fan of that particular thing.
I found three Arlette Johnsens on 1881. The first one Arlette Frydenlund Johnsen was a photographer in Bergen. The second, Arlette Cathrine Johnsen a private insurance consultant in Oslo. The third one Arlette Johnsen Lund was not my grandmother either, but a school teacher in Bodø.
I did a more general google search and found two of the three Arlettes on Facebook. I added the word obituary to the search, but nothing came up.
I was a little bit at a loss of what to do now. I didn’t like giving up after just ten minutes of detective work, but I really wasn’t sure where to look now. I thought of the possibility that she could be in an old people’s home somewhere. Or even that her addresses and phone number was protected. That can happen if someone for some reason cannot be listed in the main register for several reasons. Celebrities or abuse victims for example had secret phone numbers. I got up and made a cup of tea while I was thinking. Of what to do next. I was stubborn, and I didn’t want to pull in help from Merete or Markus on something which should be that easy.
As the caffeine slowly entered my system, I decided that the best thing I could do after first doing a last search on people called Arlette, was to ring around every old people’s home in Grimstad, Lillesand and Kristiansand.
Not having any luck with the Arlettes, I started phoning twenty minutes later. At first it was awkward. But the more homes I spoke to, the easier it got. There was no Arlette Johnsens or Arlette anything else for that matter. By the time I got to the absolute last home on my list, my hope had gone. I replied a
“Please, could I talk to Arlette Johnsen?” in a flat, tired voice to the cheery “Hello” from the lady on the line.
“Arlette Johnsen. May I ask whose calling?”
“What? I mean, sure. My name is Sandra Martinsen. I am….” I swallowed, not believing that I was soon, perhaps, going to talk to my paternal grandmother. “I’m her granddaughter.”
The woman at the other end of the line was quiet for a couple of seconds.
“Is that so?” she asked finally.
“I didn’t know until recently,” I said. “I am the daughter of her son Frank who disappeared in 1986.”
I wasn’t sure if the nurse, I assumed she was a nurse, knew about that. But it was worth trying.
“I know about Frank,” she said. Arlette talks about him sometimes. On bad days she cries for him and wish he could come visit her.”
Her words made me feel very sad for the grandmother I had yet to meet. At the same time, I was thrilled that she was alive.
“Has, is she getting a lot of visitors?” I asked.
“Sadly no. Arlette is a lovely lady. It’s a mystery to me that such a gentle soul doesn’t have family and friends who care for her.”
“I would really love to see her.”
“I’m sure that’s possible. But let me talk to her first and tell her you called. I will call you back.”
“Sure. I understand. It’s not every day granddaughters pop up like that,” I said with a little laugh.
I gave her the number to Emma’s landline and was grateful that she still had it, though most people had gotten rid of theirs. I really needed to get a Norwegian sim card so I could call and use the internet when out too, I thought. Doing this kind of work without being mobile was slowing me down as it bound me to the house. Calling to and from my British number was just too expensive.
Astrid, the nurse at the home where Arlette lived, called half an hour later.
“I’ve got Arlette here with me. She would like to ask you a few questions.”
“Yes, of course,” I said and sat down on a kitchen chair.
“Hello?”
The voice belonged to an elderly woman and the hello was more like a question than a statement.
“Hi. You must be Arlette Johnsen,” I said with the most reassuring voice I could master.
“I am,” she said. “And you are Sandra, my granddaughter.”
This came out as a statement rather than a question.
“I am,” I said. “I realize how very strange this situation is. I mean, here I call you after having been gone for nearly thirty years without ever contacting you or anything.”
“I understand.” Arlette’s voice was friendly. “I know that you couldn’t possibly have been in touch before. But I am very glad you called now. And I’m positively surprised that you found me. You’re like your father, Frank. He managed to dig up the most impossible things from the most impossible places. He was a journalist. I had a feeling you would find me one day.”
“Oh really?” I was stunned to hear this.
“Yes, absolutely. Where are you now?”
“I’ staying with my aunt Emma in Homborsund.”
“Emma. I remember her. Though I didnn’t really meet her that many times. She wouldn’t know if I’m dead or alive. Most people I know don’t know. Their either dead, or I have no wish to let them know. When can you come?”
Today! I wanted to shout. I looked at the time and realized I’d better come tomorrow instead. I was meeting Emma at her job in a couple of hours to help with the preparations for a summer party that was to be held this coming Friday. The party this year would be extra big as the company celebrated 40 years and the first ever CEO would be there. There would even be guests from abroad who had worked for or with the company in the past and the present. Funny how many round birthdays there had been in the past 8 days, I thought.
“How about tomorrow?” I said.
“Tomorrow would be absolutely delightful. I can’t wait to see you. But tell me one thing. I know my granddaughter Sandra has a tactile birthmark. Can you tell me where yours is?”
“On my neck. I have a tactile birthmark at the back of my neck.”
I almost asked how she knew about it, but realized she must remember it from when I was a baby. I hated that particular birthmark and had wanted to surgically remove it. But I’d been told it wasn’t serious, or damaging enough, so it was still there.
“You really are my granddaughter,” she said sounding relieved. “I’ll see you tomorrow then Sandra at 11:00. We have a lot to talk about.”
I got up to get ready for travelling in to Grimstad. As I looked out of the kitchen window to see the temperature and assess the weather, I could swear I saw someone retract very quickly from my line of vision. Probably the shadows playing a trick on me. Although it made me feel uneasy.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

We’re like cakes in a sense.

I have never been a big fan of chain e-mails telling you all sorts of crap like “If thou do not obey immediately and forward this straight away, thou shalt be inflicted with unspeakable harm all thy days.” But some of those chain e-mails contain quite good stories and for that reason, I take out the chain aspects of them and forward them on to somebody who will appreciate the story.

One such e-mail was entitled God’s cake and the basic message in it was that in order to make a good cake, its imperative to include the different ingredients. Eggs, flour or baking powder may not taste good in their raw form or by themselves, but you can’t make a proper cake by just including the sugar, coco, icing, butter and sprinkles. They all taste nice, but they wouldn’t make a finished product. And we are like that cake. Having just good experiences in your life will never form you as an individual and therefore God use any bad experience you may have in the recipe of making your character, or to make you become like that amazing cake.

The e-mail made a big impression on me. So much so that even though I received it over three years ago at least, I still reflect on those words. And cheesy as it may sound, I have to stop every now and again and thank God for every hard time I’ve managed to come through with my good spirits and whits intact. Yes, a couple of things have scarred me probably for life, but like baking powder which tastes yucky (someone dared me to try it when I was little) the way those things have influenced my life have given me certain truths and wisdom I wouldn’t and couldn’t have obtained otherwise.

So I’m grateful for being a cake! I hope it’s either lemon or white chocolate and raspberry coz they’re my favourites. Mmmmm.

10 things I dislike about the UK

In my previous post 10 things I love about the UK

I gave a list of things I love about the UK and this title is self explanatary really. I’m going to list 10 things I dislike about the UK. Don’t take the list too seriously though if you’re one of those people with zero sense of humour. If you do find it funny, feel free to giggle to your hearts content.
1. The difference in class. This was actually a fairly big shock to a girl like me, from a socialist country where class mainly is a political idea. For being a wealthy Western country, there really is a big difference between rich and por to a greater extent than what I expected.
2. The drinking. I love the pub culture, but there seems to be alcohol at every social occasion here, even during the week. Maybe my body has a problem with regular alcohol consumption, but drinks after work with colleagues, or meals with friends during the week accompanied by alcohol always left me feeling sleepy, a little depressed and sometimes hung over, all of which puts me in a bad mood. I do drink, I just need to keep it to a minimum and never two days in a row if I can help it. How boring I am! But, knowing this, I am good at playing drunk when I’m sober. But is all the alcohol really necessary?

3. Bureaucracy. Every country has it, but it seems that England has brought this too a whole new level! I’m in the middle of selling my flat and I still don’t know who I’m doing business with. Is it the estate agents, the sollicitors, someone acting between the sollicitors and estate agent? someone who oversees the work of the sollicitors and the other sollicitors I never knew existed and the buyers sollicitors and the estate agent? or is it simply Bob? I think we can rule him out perhaps, whoever he is, or can we?………

4. The crowds. This is more applicable to London than anywhere else. I remember first coming to London on holiday at the tender age of ten and exclaiming: “Dad, people are running into each other and they’re not blind!”

5. Carpets. They are everywhere and I don’t like them because they are unhygenic, collect dust which I’m allergic to (It’s true,) and they often smell damp. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one in a bathroom though at least.

6. The weather. It’s almost always too windy, too rainy, too cold, too humid, too something. And summer? I think that was a phenomenon of the past. 2006 if I recall correctly. The humidity mixed with cold temperature also makes dressing to keep warm difficult and the cold penetrates your layers. But on the nice days, there’s no place like a British park!

7. Coldness and anonymity. Again, this is a London thing. I have lots of friends, but I have never felt so lonely as I have in London. And though people are nice enough, there are too many who always hurry and/or are rude. London life also seem to suck the time out of you. “I’m sorry I haven’t been able to meet up with you recently, it’s London life,” is quite a common phrase between Londoners.

8. The British cuisine. Fish and Chips, stake and kidney pie, Cornish pasties are not quite my idea of a gastronomic “Must experience” but desserts, or puddings as the British say, like trifle is not so bad. I still haven’t tried a spotted dick……

9. Imperial measurements. Stones, pounds, ounces, feat and inshes, there’s something sweet and old-fashioned about them, but they make me feel kind of stupid because I don’t grasp them. They’re not nice round number like their metric counterparts.

10. The Jeremy Kyle Show. Need I say more? If there ever was to be made a TV ad for this show, I can imagine it would go a little bit like this: “Unemployed and never intend to get a job? Want to make sure the anti depressant business are still going good? Or like to get reminded that your life isn’t so bad after all? Then why not tune in to the Jeremy Kyle show. Which of these 10 guys are the babies father, why Lill chose to become a prostitute and the mother and daughter who share the bed of one man are just some of the exciting stories featuring in the next edition. Tune in on ITV and ITV2 on weekdays.”

It took me a lot longer to write this post than the previous post. So basically my conclusion is that there are many more positives than negatives about the UK. No place is perfect, but just like looking for a partner, you need to find a place you like despite its faults. And should I ever be given a great opportunity in London in the future, I’d definitely take it. For as I’ve said previously, you can’t live somewhere for so long without it becoming part of you.

I’m hoping to write similar posts in the future about other countries I know well.

Euro English

As part of my bachellor’s degree in journalism a few years back, one of the required books to read was by the radio and TV presenter, John Humphreys. The book was about languages and how the English language is evolving. One of the things he said, was that there are two kinds of English, one type of English spoken abroad, and one spoken in England. He said further more that people from abroad, whatever country, could understand each other perfectly well whilst they could not understand English people.

This is closer to the truth than you’d think. Before I moved to the UK, my English was really good. I had no problems reading bookss in English and I attended a few International conferences on disability and equality where I had no problems understanding what was being discussed. I also attended a European computer camp in Hungary where I made a lot of friends.

Moving to the UK therefore, was a shock. Of course, the English they speak in scotland can be quite hard to understand, but I also struggled to understand what my English flatmate from Cambridge said. I was frustrated and thought there was something wrong with me. And fast forward two years, I went on a European exchange camp held in England. I was now part of the British delegation. I had no problem understanding (proper English) but this time, a very different and unexpected problem arose. I had great trouble communicating properly with the other Europeans whom, if I’d met two years earlier, I’d have great convos with. They thought I spoke to English English, and I didn’t know what I did differently then to how I spoke before, so I quickly gave up making friends and I ended up hating the whole exchange and leaving early, something I laugh at today, because I met my now boyfriend at that exchange. Not that we knew we’d get together at the time of course.

Through working to prepare everything for this exchange, I had to communicate with people around Europe and one thing me and the English organiser couldn’t stop giggling at, where the funny jargan they had created which they thought were English. While I was in Florence, I also talked about the phenomenon of Euro English with an English girl who is going out with one of my boyfriend’s best friends, and we too, had a few giggles and used the words sometimes as a joke, but of course, not a joke shared by all the Italians we were with. After all, they themselves use some of these words. Here is a list of Euro English words and their definition.

Footing: Running (my favourite.
Watercooker: Kettle. (this one makes sense.)
Seadog: Seal. (I’d never have guessed. What does a seal and a dog have in common?)
Pony: Fringe (My Dutch ex’s mother used to use that and I always pretended not understanding what she meant. |It doesn’t make sense though.)
Responsibles: Camp leaders/organisers. (Sounds a bit creepy.)
Chicken skin: Goosebumbs. (Alright, I’ll allow this one as it’s sort of similar ish.)
Pineapple: Acorns/pine cones. (Makes me smile)
Sporting school: Gym. (Creative)
Spots: TV ads. (Aparrently Italians think this really is an English word. How cute!)

I can’t think of any other ones, but please feel free to add your Euro English words to the list. Maybe it would be worth creating a website http://www.euroenglishdictionary.com

There’s also this hilarious email I received a while ago which I’ll paste here. Let’s hope it doesn’t come true. 😛

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than the other possibility, German.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would become known as ‘Euro-English’.

In the first year, ‘s’ will replace the soft ‘c’. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard ‘c’ will be dropped in favour of ’k’. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome ‘ph’ will be replaced with ‘f’. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent ‘e’ in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing ‘th’ with ’z’ and ‘w’ with ‘v’.

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary ‘o’ kan be dropd from vords kontaining ‘ou’ and after ziz fifz yer, vevil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza.

Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer,ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

I’ll end with something a Dutch minister once said: “I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart and my wife’s bottom also.”