by Drew J Jones
Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 09:24:35 AM EST
So the English drink...a lot. And they never pronounce words properly. I'll give you an example: As a Yank, I read the name "Nottingham" as "Not-ting-HAM" but quickly discovered that the English will supply foreigners with very odd looks for doing this. Silly me, I should've known that it would be pronounced "Notting'm". "Shire" is also pronounced "sheer" rather than "shy-er".
Anyway, I am, of course, back from my eight-day journey with my father. My fiancee had taken a giant step by trusting us to find a decent place to live in the city, and I'm happy to say that we were successful on that, having found a small apartment block in what appeared to be a neighborhood of med students (judging by their dress and the fact that Queen's Medical Center is a five-minute walk away):
Our neighbor turns out to be a very old, presumably Anglican church from, if I remember correctly, the 16th Century:
We were also fortunate, after getting back to London, to receive the bonus of spending an evening with Miguel -- the greatest tour guide one could ask for, by the way, and one of the most intelligent and enjoyable people we've had the pleasure of spending time with. The evening also marked the only one in which my father ordered a better drink than I -- he, having discovered pear cider; I, having discovered a strange mixture of cardboard and maple syrup called Abbot Ale, which must be the drink most-served in hell. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera on that particular evening.
Thursday was Walk Fifteen Miles And Go To A Concert Day, because we were too foolish to think, "Hey, we could take the bus." (A quick and obvious note: Public transportation is infinitely superior across the Pond.) But a productive day, nonetheless. The lease was signed. We had both waited no less than six years to see the concert, and it was worth every moment, even though the band did not go on stage until 10:15. The English are quite a bit more crazy than their American cousins at concerts. By the time 10:14 rolled around, the natives were drunk and angry -- or "pissed" (English) and "pissed" (American) -- at the over-an-hour-late band. But the long wait gave us a chance to talk to many people. One had made the trip all the way from Oxford, and we spent a solid half-hour laughing about the joke that is American soccer. (I did have to point out, though, that, having tied Italy, America was entitled to calling itself Co-Champion of the World Cup.)
Overall, I found Nottingham to be slightly poorer than most Americans cities I've visited. (Tallahassee is the one exception, but its economy is wholly reliant on money flowing in from the state government and universities, whereas Nottingham clearly enjoys a strong economy outside of the public sector.) Groceries cost a bit more, on the whole, although smart shopping, thankfully, seems as though it can remedy that problem. Rents are a bit high, although I was surprised to find that our apartment will be roughly the same size as the one of Tallahassee, and for roughly the same money. Utilities, though, are quite a bit lower, and water rates are much lower.
Jobs seem plentiful and also seem to come with at least half-decent pay: Not once did we see a person who appeared to be unemployed or living in absolute poverty. I had heard horror stories about a few neighborhoods in the city -- St. Anns and the Meadows, in particular -- that suffered from drug-related crime and poverty, but, after passing through them, my admittedly-shallow experience leads me to believe that the issue, which I'm sure exists, is pumped up by the press, just as it is in many American cities. Not once did we ever feel threatened. Quite the contrary: People seemed to fall over themselves in their efforts to help us when needed (quite often).
Overall, one of what I hope are many great experiences to come. And thanks again, Miguel, for a great night out.