Tag Archives: england

When the coffee cup shattered on the kitchen floor

As an eternal 1990s indie-pop nerd I could not but be thrilled this week when I realized I was going to Bristol

on the National Express.

Bristol, besides having lots of great mathematicians to talk to, is much lovelier than I knew. There’s lots of terrain! It seems every time you turn a corner there’s another fine vista of pastel-painted row houses and the green English hills far away. There’s a famous bridge. I walked across it, then sat on a bench at the other side doing some math, in the hopes I’d think of something really good, because I’ve always wanted to scratch some math on a British bridge, William Rowan Hamilton-style. Didn’t happen. There was a bus strike in Bristol for civil rights because the bus companies didn’t allow black or Indian drivers; the bus lines gave in to the strikers and integrated on the same day Martin Luther King, Jr. was saying “I have a dream” in Washington, DC. There’s a chain of tea shops in Bristol called Boston Tea Party. I think it’s slightly weird to have a commercial operation named after an anti-colonial uprising against your own country, but my colleagues said no one there really thinks of it that way. The University of Bristol, by the way, is sort of the Duke of the UK, in that it was founded by a limitless bequest from the biggest tobacco family in the country, the Willses. Bristol also has this clock:

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In which I like a bit of hip-hop vernacular as much as the next man

IMG_0148Home from the UK.  I like reading the British newspaper for the pleasure of encountering sentences that read, to my American ear, like something an American would write in an attempt to sound droll and British.  Two from yesterday’s Evening Standard:

“Olympia Haralambous, 16, scored 10 A* grades despite being hit in the head with a rounders bat the day before her first exam.”

“I like a bit of hip-hop vernacular as much as the next man.”

These are funniest when read aloud in a plummy British newsreader accent.

I was also going to compliment the United Kingdom on the ready availability of steak-flavored potato chips, except that as it turns out these tasted nothing at all like steak.

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