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Reflections on Inglaterra

By Tom Wiseman

I´ve been getting a bit listless recently...so there´s only one thing for it—make a list! Listo?!

New experiences, new cultures, and new perspectives often shed new "light" on old things, sometimes that light is at the rose-tinted end of the spectrum and sometimes it is a weight off one's mind to pay them none.

In that spirit, here is an uneven and rather random list of 'things I miss, and things I don't.'

Before we commence, a quick word on friends and family. This is mostly a collection of sensual experience not people and places. Of course I miss my family and friends but they are in my heart so they are always with me every step of the way. Where me goes, so mi amigos!

Things I Miss

Trees - Proper trees, like Oaks. Not Palms, trees that can actually be climbed (although Keith Richards once gave it a bloody good go considering he was already out of his). Trees that cover the hillsides with shifting greenery.

Ale - Whether locally brewed or imported from such far flung places as Cornwall, this stuff is delicious.

Old Rosie - One of my favourite ladies in all the world, this señora is a super strong apple cider that tastes like liquid sunshine.

Pints - Sure, I can get bottles of beer or glasses of beer (plural) but there is something special about the Pint that is ingrained in the psyche (bladder?) of a Brit.

Pubs - Proper pubs, pubs where the above items can be procured in a cosy and welcoming yet slightly edgy atmosphere.

The smell of the countryside - I admit, "the smell of the countryside" is either a) allergy inducing pollen, or b) shit. That said, both aromas are more evocative than "sand."

Fresh Air - Maybe the last point makes this one redundant but high on the desert plain the air is both thin and polluted.

Cricket - I can´t even play the game but it's just so bloody British, isn't it?! I was polishing a Red Delicious and tossing it about it my hands the other day and I had an overwhelming desire to bowl a 6...I got "over" it though.

Penalties - Oh wait, that's a story for another blog...

Things I Don't Miss

Booze Britain/Booze Culture - I do realise that 4 of my choices for 'things I miss' are alcohol related but to be fair they are less about being wankered, fighting, vomiting and Belonging and more about a strange nostalgia for British weights and measures!

Big Brother - Another BB for the list, from the omnipotent CCTV cameras attached to every available surface all the way to the political atmos-fear propagated by Parliament

Miserable people - Seeing the sun everyday really does make a huge difference to peoples' happiness and in England we just don´t see enough of it. Latitude determines attitude!

Hay fever - Thanks to our beautiful countryside and acres of farmland I had to do without a sense of smell and the ability to breath for 2-3 months of the year. No fun.

Clouds - Ok, Ok, we do see a few of these.

That fine rain that soaks you through - Here it is all or nothing, when it rains, it pours.

"Not Bad" - This is the standard response to any enquiry about well being, usually spoken with a surprised tone. Why use two negative words in place of one positive one?! Words have power! Cheer up people!

I'm sure there's more to be thought of, but we'll save them for Part II shall we?

Until next time...


[Eds note: The photo is of Brother Guy. He represents the best bits of Booze Britain.]

Tom Wiseman hails from Oxford—the area, not the University—and is spending the year teaching English in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. His blog, "The Tao of Teaching," appears regularly on Gradspot.com.

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