Monday, 24 January 2011

Stylish blogging....about crackling. And pyjamas.


It's always good to be given an award, and in this case I'm honoured to have been awarded by 'Cross the Pond - one of those people whose life seems to have done a direct swap with mine, a New Yorker living in London.

The award is for Stylish Blogging - I think (hope?) Stylish in this case must mean in the writing, seeing as I'm not exactly Liberty London Girl, who gets to write about fashion and five star hotels (although I do have serious blog envy there), and my wardrobe this month seem to consist of the same pair of thick cords and very thick jumpers, or alternatively ski-wear, donned for digging out the driveway.

Anyway the award as usual comes with rules, so I must thank the person who nominated me and then reveal seven things about myself. I'm sure I've already bored readers with the 'seven things' meme before so I'm going to make it more specific and reveal seven (new) things I never knew about living in the US.

1. The tipping culture. Yes, I knew Americans tipped generously, but I did not realise quite to what extent. The normal tip is 15-20% here, and at Christmas you tip the postman, the garbage men, the schoolbus driver and your newspaper delivery person. You tip the camp teachers at the end of summer camp, and the instructors at the ski school. It's also fairly normal to give school teachers money as a Christmas present - or at least, a voucher or gift card so they can see exactly what you've spent on them. I'm only just coming up to speed on all this, so I hope I haven't offended anyone by being a stingy Brit....

2. A couple of people commented on my last post that they hadn't realised Americans talk about the weather as well as we Brits. Well, they do. At least in New York. The radio station we listen to is always on about it, and let's face it, they have that whole Weather Channel so you can obsess about the weather 24/7 if you want to. The conversation at the bus stop in the morning nearly always revolves around how cold/hot it is, or whether snow is forecast....

3. ...BUT on days when it is minus 13 (like today) you don't totally hate the winter weather. The sky is so blue and the sun so bright you can almost look out of the window and pretend it's summer - if it weren't for the three feet of snow in the back garden.....

4. It is not possible to buy a joint of pork in the US and get crackling. Simply not going to happen. We've tried. We miss crackling.

5. Americans don't like doing things by halves......viz Piers Morgan's new chat show. He's on five nights a week. Interviewing one single person for a whole hour. That's a lot of very long interviews. More than Wogan - he managed three nights a week back in the eighties (and there were always several guests per show) And while George Clooney, Oprah and Ricky Gervais might have been worth watching for an hour, I can't help thinking that pretty soon Piers will have to be resorting to the runners up on American Idol or the guy who plays the occasional cop on Grey's Anatomy...

6. Speaking of TV, it is quite normal in the US for your favourite TV series to stop for a hiatus of three or four weeks, then show one new episode, then show repeats for a few weeks, then maybe, if they are feeling like it, show a few more new ones.....it's no wonder so few shows make it beyond their first season, as it's simply impossible to follow the storyline. Thank God for DVRs.

7. No school term is complete without a pyjama party. I don't know if this is just round here, but Americans simply love them - and so do the children. Why going to school in your pyjamas is quite so thrilling I am not sure, but Littleboy 1 was so excited that he actually went to bed early the night before in anticipation.

Now, I'm supposed to nominate 15 other bloggers for this award, but I've been shamefully lax on discovering new blogs recently, so what I'm going to suggest, rather lazily, is that if you want to take part, just go for it! Now there's an American sentiment. (And if you're new to me and I don't know your blog yet, leave me a comment and I promise I'll be over to take a look.)

10 comments:

Expat mum said...

I think I've got the tipping and Xmas present thing down now, but I do remember being very confused years ago when we got a Xmas card from the teen that delievered our paper (when we used to get one), but it seemed to be addressed to himself. Then my husband explained that we were supposed to put a tip in it and leave it out for him! Pretty cheeky that, I thought.

Iota said...

Yes, pyjama day seems to be important. Can't think why.

conuly said...

"It is not possible to buy a joint of pork in the US and get crackling. Simply not going to happen. We've tried. We miss crackling. "

I think it may be a Southern thing.

Lis said...

I think the extent of tipping depends on where you live in the US. I'm in Michigan. I have never tipped the garbage man or mail carrier.

You might find joint of pork at a carniceria/mexican butcher shop. They have parts that other places don't always have and a lot of times render their own lard.

nappy valley girl said...

Expat Mum - we get the same Xmas card with addressed envelope. The first year, I threw it away because I didn't realise what it was - I thought we had got someone else's post by mistake.

Iota - It does seem to be an American tradition. I wonder if any British schools do it?

Conuly - interesting. I can imagine people in the South liking crackling. But it might just be a British thing.

Lis - good idea! I shall seek one out. Thank you.

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

The tipping thing is one reason why I would be terrified to move back to the States--I would be wringing my hands with worry that I would get it wrong and offend someone. I cant believe the paper boy leaves a card for tips?!

The PJ party is funny--and I especially love your description of Littleboy 1 going to bed early in anticipation! We only had one of those at my daughter's school and that was called 'fancy dress in PJ's for charity' or something similar. Anyone who wanted to wear their PJs to school had to also bring a pound for charity. And yes, they were all excited about it! Weird.

Mwa said...

The tipping sounds like a nightmare to get right!

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

Ahhh tipping....it's a totally different world in the US. Having worked as a waitress in NY tips outweighed my pitiful paycheck. Chris could never get his head around it when he came to the US but after working at a marina on LI one summer he came to appreciate them :)

Diney said...

The tipping problem is bad wherever you are - even in London I fret about how much to give a taxi driver. In NYC my son and his then girlfriend were onto their last dollars and went out for a meal before going to the airport. They had to chose from the menu very carefully as needed to have some cash for taxi (and tip). However, when the bill came they had to leave a very small tip as the drinks were more expensive that they had accounted for. The waiter actually ran out of the restaurant after them and started shouting at them in the street!!!!!

nappy valley girl said...

Michelloui - Littleboy 2 had his today, and was equally excited. It's obviously some child thing that adults just don't get...

Mwa - I think the general rule is, if in doubt, tip generously! But as a Brit, that can be hard to get used to...

Tanya - I just wish all that was more transparent....if it was like France, and the gratuity was fixed, would be so much easier.

Diney - that's a terrible story! Yes, it is all too easy to get caught out.