Monday, August 10, 2009

Mental trip to Britain

I brought Enid Blyton’s “The Island of Adventure” with me to the hospital last month. I figured the easy-to-read children’s book would help pass the time without making me completely exhausted.

I was discharged before I made it to Chapter 4, but at least the book kept brought me to the rocky hillside of north Britain for a few hours. With sentences like “It was pleasant at tea time that day” and “It was really most extraordinary,” I almost start reading it with a British accent.

During my first few days home from the surgery, a friend dropped by a stack of books. “P.S. I Love You” by Cecelia Ahern immediately caught my attention, and it took me to Ireland for about a week, where people go to pubs and wear trainers and knickers and jumpers and sometimes have to go to hospital (without the “the,” which has always fascinated me – how can British English and American English be so different in some regards?).

Another book dropped into the mail a few days later from a friend in Sweden – “500 Reasons Why I Hate The Office.” It’s the perfect book to keep on my desk at work, of course, but after skimming through the first 65 pages or so, I realized it was just a bit too British for me. Perhaps it is that I don’t work in a regular office, per se, or maybe it was just the fact that I don’t have to deal with “client entertainment” or “office creeps” or “dress codes.” It was funny, though, to read about organisations (spelled with an “s” instead of a “z”) and “socialising (same thing) with colleagues.”

But it wasn’t until I picked up Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island,” – where he tours England one last time before moving back to the United States – that I realized all my recent books had centered around the British (well, and Irish). Bryson took me on a trip via motorways and Marks & Spencer to zebra crossings and Towcester (pronounced “toaster,” allegedly). And again, I am reminded how much I like his humor and self-loathing voice.

1 comment:

Anne Sofie said...

It's not only that British English is different from American English, Brits are different from the Yankees too. Very much so, indeed.

You made me want to re-read Enid Blyton, just for all the pleasant tea times.

"500 reasons..." should be read a page or two at a time I think, anything else would be rather overwhelming. And it should certainly not be placed on your desk at work! Dear me...