England is playing on my mind today. In just 11 weeks I will be back, and as much as I love New York and America in general, there are certain things I long to see, hear and taste again, and cannot wait to be reunited with. Such as:
After the rain smell. It’s not as potent or earthy smelling here.
Proper tea. Served with milk as a matter of course, without me having to ask for it.
Crumpets drenched in butter. Sarabeth thinks she makes good ones. She doesn’t. You can’t beat a Warburton’s crumpet on a Sunday afternoon. Or at 3am when you need to soak up the alcohol you just consumed on a night out.
Roast dinners with Marks and Spencer’s Yorkshire pudding and Bisto gravy, with rhubarb crumble and custard for dessert. Sigh.
Manual transmission cars. I hate driving automatics.
Hedged-in country lanes where you genuinely can’t see anything coming and rounding each bend is a near death experience.
Red buses. The MTA buses are not exactly a substitute.
The view of the Houses of Parliament from across the Embankment. The New York skyline may be impressive, but that view of faux Gothic towers rising above the early morning mist that gathers on the Thames is unutterably beautiful, timeless and quintessentially English.
Proper pubs. Calling yourself by a fake Irish name and serving warm beer in a dingy New York shop front doesn’t make you a pub.
Being called ‘love’ by strangers.
British swear words, such as ‘blimey’, ‘bloody’ and ‘bugger’.
National Trust days out.
Victoria sponge cake. Cupcakes just can’t take the place of sponge, cream and jam in a delectably delicious sandwich.
Orderly queues where no one complains about being in a queue.
The word queue. Every time I ask ‘Where does the line start?’ in a shop, I grow a little more disappointed in myself.
Streets of 1930’s semis.
Fish and chip shops.
Dingy bookshops on the Charing Cross Road.
Inane conversation about the weather and when exactly one thinks it is going to start to rain.
The print edition of The Sunday Times.
Be prepared for a similar list in two months’ time, rubbishing all things English and praising all things American after I’m back in London and am missing Shakeshack, the Empire State Building, amazing buskers on the subway, being able to get anything I want at any time of day and night, the word ‘awesome’ and people fawning all over me just because I opened my mouth and an English accent came out.