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UK A-OK! (Sorry)

Before we go any further I think it it's only fair that I provide some sort of recap of my trip to the United Kingdom and that I should do so in the form of a Cheers/Jeers breakdown. Only we need to make each side specific to the UK so we'll call it Jolly Good Form, Old Chap/My Word, That's A Bit Dodgy Now Isn't It. Mostly because those are two phrases that all Americans include in their impressions of British people and phrases that no British person has actually uttered since 1973.

(I've already recounted my soccer match experience here, which was Jolly Good Fun indeed.)

Jolly Good Form, Old Chap to Virgin Atlantic. I flew Virgin from LA to London and vice versa. That's roughly ten hours each way. Coach, mind you (buy more t-shirts you assholes!) On most airlines, that's torture. You'd get stuck watching a triple feature of Made of Honor, Mamma Mia! and two episodes of Two And A Half Men on a TV that's thirty feet away from you. But on Virgin, not only do you get the personalized TV, you get a movie and TV selection that would rival the PPV setup in your own living room. I watched six and a half movies in all. They were...
  • Iron Man (Enjoyed it but I hate origin movies, never enough action and I always feel a little gipped)
  • Cloverfield (Sorry, I liked it. Mostly cause I love the concept. But I still didn't see the "spoiler-y thing" in the background of the last shot)
  • Hancock (Ugh. Was there an actual story in there? I didn't see one. Hooray for Jason Bateman though)
  • Wanted (Kinda fun but not nearly as fun as I thought it would be)
  • Vantage Point (If you didn't have it figured out by the 2nd "vantage point," you are deducted ten demerits and sent to "how to spot obvious casting" school)
  • The Dark Knight (Viewing #2, still holds up. Seriously, this is one of the best made movies in a long time...forget Ledger, the script better be nominated as well)
  • Semi-Pro (got a half hour in before I had to turn it off. It's anti-funny. Jesus, Will, what the F?)
All of this is besides the fact that the Virgin folks are ridiculously nice and provide tons of free amenities. If you find yourself with the option to take Virgin on a long trip sometime soon and the money's not a big difference, do it.

My Word, That's A Bit Dodgy Now Isn't It to Fish and Chips. I was probably more excited about this meal than anything else. I've had F&C before in the States but always under the guise that it was a second-rate version. I assumed I'd come to the UK and find that I've been missing one of the most splendid taste-explosions of my life. We made sure that F&C were on the menu the first night we arrived. Even went to an authentic Chip shop to get them. And as I bit into the golden brown goodness before me I couldn't help but feel...underwhelmed. I mean, the fish didn't have any taste. Neither did the batter. It was like eating fried nothing. And the chips? Soggy and soft. What the fuck, England? This is your bread and butter (besides actual bread and butter). I was crestfallen.

On my last night we went to an authentic English pub for a last meal and I decided to tempt fate again and order Fish & Chips. This time, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the chips were crunchy and crispy and the fish had some flavor. My Fish & Chips experience has been saved somewhat, just in time. Still, not enough to erase the disappointment of the initial meal.

Jolly Good Form, Old Chap to Dublin. Admittedly, I didn't see too much of Ireland or even Dublin. We got there in the early evening, settled down at our bed and breakfast above an Irish pub and then headed out for the famous Temple Bar area. Touristy? You betcha. But the food was solid, the beer was cold and the Irish music kept going until 2:30am. We only made it til 1am however. Lazy.

The next day we got a feel for the city. I love the whole old/new contrast of the European cities, it's something we'll never really have here in the States. You can order a latte at Starbucks and then turn the corner and walk into a 500-year-old castle. It was rainy, as you might expect, so we spent most of the day indoors. Specifically, the Guinness Storehouse. Did the tour, heard the schpiel, listened to people talk about the guy who invented Guinness as if he was one of the Apostles. Finally, made it to the top of the factory for my complimentary Guinness.


My Word, That's A Bit Dodgy Now Isn't It to Marmite. Marmite is awful. It is disgusting. It is gross. It is brewed in the pits of Mount Doom where Orcs collect it, put it into little squeezable bottles and then distribute it to the people of Earth for profit. If you've never tried Marmite, consider yourself lucky. And if you enjoy the taste of Marmite, you are a witch. BURN!!!

Jolly Good Form, Old Chap to Brown Sauce. Brown Sauce is a staple of the British table condiment collection. It's right up there with ketchup, vinegar and salad creme (which isn't half bad either). If you like yourself some A-1, this is kinda/sorta like that...but a little "saucier." Now that I've tasted it, I'll never eat a baked potato (er, jacket potato) without it again. And I have a feeling it's one of those omni-sauces that makes just about everything you put it on better.

My Word, That's A Bit Dodgy Now Isn't It to British television. NOW I understand why American television is so horrible. This is where we're getting our ideas from??? I'm not kidding, 90% of British primetime television is soap operas, reality TV and antiques shows. And I don't mean soap operas in the way that 90210 is technically a soap opera...I mean ACTUAL soap operas in primetime. Like seven of them. They even import them from Australia cause they can't get enough.

To be fair, there are some great shows on as well but it doesn't seem like anyone is watching them. Everyone I spoke with either doesn't watch tele or they watch EastEnders and Coronation Street to see what will happen to the neer-do-wells and their sexy, trouble neighbors within.

I got slightly excited when, on the weekends, I saw on the channel listings something called the Coronation Street Omnibus. Sounded like some kind of crazy Transformer ship, like one of the buses on Coronation Street transforms and eats the whiny people who live here. Now THAT'S a soap opera I can get into. Turns out that omnibus is their way of saying "all-day marathon." That is not the kind of Transformer I can get into.

Jolly Good Form, Old Chap to the few British TV shows that are worth watching.

Wire in the Blood. Whatever procedural you watch on American network TV sucks compared to WitB. In truth, I've been watching it in BBC America for a while now. Imagine if HBO or Showtime had a police procedural loaded with compelling characters, crazy murders and legitimately tough-to-solve twists, that's WitB. Rent it, now.

Gavin and Stacey. It's no Office but a very solid and funny series about two crazy kids in love and how their friends and family deal with it. Some things don't translate well for American audiences but most do...equally silly, smart and fun.

The Catherine Tate Show. The heir apparent to Tracy Ullman. Sure, some of her characters get old fast as she recycles them often but her ability to disappear into archetypes of all ages and backgrounds is impressive.

My Word, That's A Bit Dodgy Now Isn't It to British money. Seriously...$2 coins? Stop it, United Kingdom. It's silly. And bad news for Americans, who love to get rid of coins like they have venereal diseases on them.

Jolly Good Form, Old Chap to London. Only spent a day there but it was a whirlwind. Tower of London, London Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe, Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden. Bases covered. Score to the London Underground, which was clean and easy to use. Also for their tell-it-like-it-is advertising campaigns.

Couldn't agree with you more, UK.