Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Obama effect in England

It's bloody cold here, only 28F. So cold that at London Bridge station there was a hand-written whiteboard sign saying that one of the football matches for today had been cancelled. I thought I was lying when I posted yesterday that the forecast was for warmer temps today for our return visit to the Tate Modern. But when I checked, sure enough, was supposed to be 39 here but I bet it didn't even get within 10 degrees of that. We persevered anyway on our return visit to the Tate so the girls could see the Cildo Meireles exhibit.

But before the Tate, we had to stop by Chapel Market in order to do some shopping for Rosie. Chapel Market is a street/flea/produce/meat/fish/tchoske market in Islington, just off Upper Street near the Angel Tube. The kind of place where you can pick up a few apples, some cosmetics, a suitcase, and get a key cut all in one stop. We went because Rosie decided she needed a new bag for school. Evidently, the British fee-school girls don't carry backpacks to school, but instead, they use big roomy purse-type bags to carry their belongings back and forth to school. So Rosie wanted to try to find one so she'd look just like all the other girls (even though she talks funny).

While she was perusing the options, an elderly British guy sat down at a table nearby, with a sandwich from another one of the stands. He heard me talking to Rosie, and started a conversation with me. You'll have to imagine a slightly Cockney accent (on him, not me)

EBG: "Americans, 'uh?"
Me: "Yup."
EBG: "Whatcha doin' 'ere?"
Me: "We're living here for a while."
EBG: "I 'ate Americans, ya know."
Me: "Oh really? Why?"
EBG: "They're all bloody imperialists, that's why."
Me [appreciating just a bit he said "They're" rather than "You're"]: "True, under our last government, it was pretty imperialistic. But don't you think it will get better under the new president?"
EBG: "Nawwww. 'e'll be just as bloody awful."
Me: "You think so? Why?"
EBG: "Because of who's backin' 'im -- they're all bloody imperialists."
Me: "Who's backing him?"
EB: "Those groups!" [said like every idiot knows who he was talking about]
Me [feigning ignorance, which I was]: "Which groups?"
EBG: "There are three of 'em - the Masons, the Mafia, and the Jews!"
Me [somewhat speechless]: "Well, nice chatting with you."

Luckily, Rosie had completed her commercial transaction at this point, so I had an excuse to bid a fond adieu to the gentleman.

After the Tate, we stopped for an early dinner at a Japanese noodle shop, Wagamama, which is a chain here. Or, as we all called it, "Whack-a-Mama," in honor of Anne's favorite carnival game, Whack-a-Mole. Had delicious noodles, which warmed us all up and got us prepared for the rest of the journey home in the cold.

If you're interested, we recorded a brief video greeting at the Tate. Just got rung up by my colleague, Claire, who's invited us all to dinner tomorrow night. Will be our first invite to somebody's house since we've been here, which should be fun.


  1. Ha! Love it. You silly imperialist culinary Jew. :)

  2. When I was in Taiwan this summer the only English TV station I had was the BBC. So, when I got tired of the Japanese sports channel (50% Sumo, 50% baseball) I would have the BBC on. I mentioned to some Brits I met in Taipei that I was surprised how much American election coverage there was, especially about Obama. "Oh, we're bonkers for American politics" was the reply. I'll be curious to hear more British reactions to Obama...

  3. Wagamama was one of my favorite restaurants in London. We (my friends from Royal Holloway and I) often made the trek into London from Egham just for a Wagamama's trip! The louder you slurp, the better the meal! So glad to hear that you found this place! Enjoy! Oh the memories....