Do English people hate talking about money so much that someone is REFUSING TO PAY ME??

I woke up today to a ridiculous email from a friend (a friend!) I’ve been collaborating with.  I don’t mention it often, but I’m a musician and I do a lot of remote recording work.  My friend (FRIEND!?) and I just finished working on a ten track album on which I worked on 9 out of the ten songs.

I do this kind of thing all the time and usually with people I’ve never met.  So what I USUALLY do (very sensibly) is arrange a contract first and everyone signs it before I record a note.  But THIS time it was for an English friend so I thought we could just talk money once I’d finished.  What. A. FOOL.

When we came to talk percentages / royalties ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE and now I can’t see past my fury enough to figure out if he’s:

a) Over-reacting

b) A d-bag

or c) Rendered useless by money-talk because of his Britishness

Here’s what happened:

He emailed me to ask about contracts / percentages, etc.  I emailed back suggesting slightly high figures so he could barter me down to what I actually wanted.  Based on my past 10 years of experience – this is how it’s always done.  But here’s his response:

I think I wasn’t expecting any of this and in reality this album wont me making you or I any money.

Really?  Nobody every told me…

I won’t be making any formal agreement with percentages or sales in regards to the songs.

OH, GOOD.  I thought you were going to make this difficult.

I think you will have to accept the original terms – you did this because you wanted to play these songs, not for any financial reward.

What??   I  mean yes, I love music and yes, I like his songs – but I can’t pay my bills with the Sound of Music (unless the hills come alive and pay my mortgage)

You cannot now be asking for percentages and so forth when it was clear from the start I would not be paying you for your contribution to the album.

Um… yes I can.  Because no it wasn’t.

This is the same as a dentist doing a filling and his patient telling him he should accept payment as HIS LOVE OF TEETH.

So cast your votes, expats!  Is he a) over-reacting, b) d-bagging or c) paralysed by the fear of talking about moolah.

How do you connect with your English man’s friends? VERY SLOWLY.

I read an email from one of our fab-oo-luss readers and it’s definitely worth sharing.  I’ve been through this, and I know from past comments and emails that some of our readers have, too.

The question is:

How do you connect with your English man’s friends?

Here’s the email in it’s entirety:

Dear Yankeebean and all you lovely ladies from SNFY,

I’m having a slight problem with English culture I was hoping you might help me with over a blog post.

I’m an American doing my MA in London, and met a really great English guy shortly after I arrived. We’ve been dating 9 months now. He’s from London and doing his MA here as well, although at a different uni. My question for you is how to connect with his English friends. I’ll tell you more back-story so you can better understand my predicament.

My boyfriend’s close friends are mainly from his undergrad time, and although they all live in London, they don’t see each other very often, but when they do, they all get together for a huge gathering of about 15 people. They are all really close and more than half of them are actually dating each other. I’ve come along to about four of these gatherings now, and I’m having a hard time getting to know them, as they don’t make much effort to get to know me, and I’m quite shy as it is. Usually what happens is that they arrive, ask me the obligatory ‘How are you? How’s uni?” questions and then all talk together in a group about English topics I know nothing about, or reminisce about old university times. Other significant others who come along don’t seem to have this problem, as they aren’t afraid to chime in on the topics about England, whereas I have no idea what they are talking about. Even when I’ve spoken to a few of them one-on-one, which is usually easier, I’m the one doing all the effort, asking them all the questions about themselves (Although I must say, this is usually more true for my conversations with the women than with the men.) I guess my question is, is there some sort of unspoken English rule about how to actually converse in large groups in England? Any advice on how to get past the “How are you?” stage? I realize that it’s always hard being the newcomer at a gathering of old friends, but I thought that by the fourth time meeting them and 9 months into dating him, his friends would be making more of an effort to get to know the girl he’s crazy about. It wasn’t even until last time that one thought to ask where I’m from in the States!

Since I’m a student in London, most of the people I’ve met are actually foreigners as well, so I really haven’t had much experience with English social norms. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now whenever I miss home, and always laugh at your insight into English behaviour. I’ve even just bought “Watching the English” on your recommendation. I was hoping it would arrive in time for me to prepare for the last get together (it was yesterday), but it didn’t :( I did start reading it today, though, and already found that I’ve been going about talking about the weather all wrong this whole time! :)

Thanks again for the great blog. Love it!

Cheers,
NotLongInLondon

And here it is again – that age old question, “How the FLIPPING HECK am I supposed to talk to new English acquaintances??”.  I feel for you, NotLongInLondon, I really do.  I’ve been there.  In fact, I’m tempted to buy property there since I visit so often…

There’s a post by one of our guest authors, Redilocks, about just this topic – How to Make Friends and Influence People (English Style).  It’s a step-by-step guide about how to meet English people without scaring the shite out of them with your natural American-ness.  In fact, it was after I read this post that I started complimenting English women when I first met them.  IT TOTALLY WORKS.  I still get the odd alien laser death glare, but they’re much less common these days…

But if you want proof that you’re already doing a grand job of working your way in to your boyfee’s UK crowd, read this comment from a past post.  One of our readers, Michelle, remains the victim of the rudest and most unbelievable encounter that I’ve ever heard of between an American and an English woman.  After you read Michelle’s experience, I know you’ll feel better about your attempts, because it sounds like it’s actually going pretty well for you.

My final word of advice, and my own person attack in situations where I can’t seem to turn the tide in my favour is this.  Channel your inner  ninja, sit, and listen.  Don’t worry about talking or chiming in, just sit back and observe what’s going on.  If you have something to say, go for it, but don’t stress about it.  I think the ultimate key to hanging out with an already-established group of Brits is time, time, and more time.  Just keep going back, be patient, and you’ll wear ‘em down soon enough.  :)

10 things that still annoy me about England after living here for 8 years

I dearly love the UK and I feel more and more English with every passing year.  But there are a few things about living in England that still rub me the wrong way.


1 – Parking

I walk and ride my bike as much as I possibly can, but sometimes you have to go grocery shopping, or pick up something bulky from Argos, or go to the Bristol Cider Shop ( I just got back from there and parking was a bit of an adventure – and so this post is born).

Every time I get in my car, before I even start the engine, I’m worried about parking.  Will there be any?  If there IS, will it be full?  If it ISN’T, will the spaces actually be big enough for me to fit my car in?  If they ARE, will I have to pay to park?  If I DO, do I have any change to pay with?  If I DON’T, will I be able to pay with my phone/debit card?  If I CAN’T, them I’m scuppered and I should just bloody stay home.

By this point in my thought process, I’m always tempted to either check bus schedules, or order whatever I was going to pick up online.

Part of me longs for the days when I could just get in the car and drive to Target.  A) They have EVERYTHING there and B) you could land a plane in the average Target parking lot – and they wouldn’t even charge you for it.

2 – Customer Service (or lack of)

Sometimes I need help when I’m in a shop.  Sometimes I’d like to ask about a product or service.  Sometimes I need help finding something.  Sometimes I’d just like a second opinion.

But I NEVER-TIMES want a shop assistant to act like I’m asking them to climb Everest in their undies when all I’m asking them to do is THEIR JOB.  I don’t want to be ignored.  I don’t want to wait while they finish writing a text message.  I don’t want them to cop an attitude if I ask a simple question.

Iota, a fellow Expat blogger that I’ve followed for a long-arse time, puts it perfectly in her post called Further Woes of a Returning Brit.  Check it out and know that you’re not alone when you despair about English customer service.

3 – Negativity (or as the Brits call it ‘Realism’)

To give you an example, let’s pretend a team of Americans and a team of English people were both asked to build a really tall tower out of straws and scotch tape / sello tape.

The Americans would approach the project with excitement.  They would intrinsically believe that they are super-capable, that they’re ready for this challenge, and probably (absolutely) that they’re going to win.

The Brits would start off by discussing why it’s impossible to build a really tall tower out of only straws and sello tape.  There aren’t enough straws, the straws are the wrong size, the sello tape is old and fragile, there’s not enough time, they also need toothpicks and Blu-tak but they haven’t got any, etc.  But after the we-can’t-possibly-and-this-is-pointless-let’s-just-go-to-pub barrage of negativity / realism – they would knuckle down and do it.  And they’d do it well.

The thing that REALLY bugs me about the instant negative / realist English reaction is that NOW I DO IT, TOO.  DESPAIR!  I want my built-in, sometimes foolish optimism back!

4 – No free refills

I can’t think of a single time in England when I’ve bought a drink that comes with free refills.  I always get my Hope on if I go to an American-diner-style café in the UK.  In the back of mind I’m thinking, “Maybe they’ve done more than embrace 1950′s greasy spoon interior decor.  Maybe they’ve embraced the beverage ethos of my nation.

I’ve yet to see it happen, but I remain hopeful.  It seems like more Americans are showing up in the UK every day – here’s hoping we’re wearing ‘em down. :)

5 – Roundabouts with traffic lights in them

I love roundabouts and I think they work like a freakin’ charm.  Once I figured out how to not-die while using one, I was instantly on board.

But some roundabouts are so huge, that there are traffic lights IN THEM – embedded in as you’re driving AROUND them.  I rarely end up in the right lane on these massive road-swines.  I shake my fist!

6 – ‘Proper coffee’ means ‘instant coffee’

Just as many Americans can’t make a good cuppa tea, many many (dear God, TOO MANY) English people refer to instant coffee as ‘proper coffee’.  I’ve also heard it said, “I’d like a strong coffee – 3 scoops”.  *shudder*

Every time someone says it out loud, I inwardly vom a little and somewhere, in a land far far away, a fair trade, single-estate, organic coffee farmer dies.

7 – ‘OH!  The Windy City…’

My accent hasn’t deserted me – YAY!  I don’t sound completely English (although I don’t always sound American either) so I always get asked that famous question, “Where abouts are you from, then?”.  I say, “Chicago” to which, 98% of the time they reply, “OH!  The Windy City!”

I know I know, they’re being nice – they mean well.  It’s just something that I’ve heard so many times it’s like the spoken equivalent of a scratchy bra that’s rubbing your side-boob raw.

8 – Talking about football

I don’t want to talk about it.

9 – The cost of going out to dinner

I freaking love going out to dinner and it doesn’t have to be fancy.  Give me my local pizza place and a pint of my favourite beer any day.    But it seems like going out to dinner in the States can be done for a LOT less and a LOT more easily.  There are plenty of cheap, one-off, local restaurants in the States that serve awesome food for teeny tiny (or at least reasonable) prices.

There are some outstanding restaurants here, but it always feels expensive compared to my Native Land.

10 – ‘Mexican food’

I put ‘Mexican’ in quotes because what most Brits call Mexican food would cause Mex-enthusiasts to weep uncontrollably into their guacamole.  I have been to many a UK Mexican restaurant in hopes of finding a tasty burrito, but I’m always met with tasteless beans, from-a-tin-and-processed avocado and lack-lustre salsa.  I PINE for good Mexican food – but I have to make it myself.

Having said that – anyone that lives in or near York should check out Fiesta Mehicana because it’s the only place I’ve been that even comes close.


In summary, I love love love living in the UK and there are many things about this cracking country that I wouldn’t trade for a fist-full of Benjamins.  But I guess there’s always going to be things about it that rub me the wrong way and get me itching for my American days.

Come on, expats – have I forgotten anything?

Especially the parking.  MY GOD, THE PARKING.

English people want to buy their first house when they’re foetuses

I was 18 and so was my English man.

We’re sitting in the 6th-Form Common Room talking about the future in a casual ‘we’re going to be famous rockstars’ kind of way.

All of a sudden, he drops the H-bomb.

HOUSE.

When you’re 18 and your man starts talking about buying a house, it’s easy to see it as a ‘planning for our forever together’ type of situation.  But keep in mind that it could also be an ‘I’ve wanted to buy a house since I was in the womb’ type of situation.

Once you’ve started your own expat adventure, it will take you 1.6 seconds to see that it’s true.  The English want – no MUST – own a house as soon as humanly possible.  They emerge from adolescence yearning not for fame or fortune, but a MORTGAGE.  They watch prime-time property porn like Location Location Location, House Doctor, and Grand Designs.

My frothing-at-the-house man and I did go on to get married (and, yes, buy a house) – but I don’t think he was imagining walking me down the aisle when he casually talking about mortgaging-up all those years ago.  He was just being the lovely Brit that he is.

But expats BEWARE!  Fear not the house-owning-desires of your English man!  Fear the DIY that follows.

Take your UK planning permission and shove it up your arse

Back up, expats – I’ve got mah BITCH on.

I just finished watching Grand Designs (The one about the couple that built a super modern boat-house type thing right on the Thames).  The finished product was a real stunner – modern, but sensitive to its surroundings.  It was beige-y, river-y and awesome-y.  In short, I lurved it.

What is planning permission?  Wikipedia says that “Planning permission or planning consent is the permission required in the United Kingdom in order to be allowed to build on land, or change the use of land or buildings.

The people in this episode didn’t actually have any trouble with getting planning permission – but their heinous neighbours couldn’t seem to believe that such a MONSTROSITY could POSSIBLY be built among their chocolate-box houses.  There were petitions and council-led meetings and the build was fought at every turn by their neighbours (who now hate the completed house AND the new residents, too, just for extra arse-points).  They used words like ‘monstrosity’, ‘blight’, ‘disaster’, ‘ruination’, ‘It’s DESTROYED the space/street/block/area/county/country/planet/universe’.

You get the idea.

Even though the council backed the new build in the end, watching this episode reminded me how OUTRAGEOUS I find the idea of planning permission in the UK.

Rationally, I get it (SORT of):

  • England wouldn’t look like England without planning permission – it keeps it all lookin’ England-style
  • It helps to protect valuable conservation (countryside and farm land)
  • It helps to protect residential areas from fusty industrial development

But deep down, the American Revolutionary in me can’t believe that I could buy some land, 100% own that land, but some Suit with an official stamp and an architectural attitude could proceed to tell me what I am and am not allowed to do with it.

I’m going to have my own mini Boston Tea Party in protest!  I’m going to go get all the tea bags I have in my kitchen and THROW THEM IN A PUDDLE.  (Please note: No tea bags were harmed in the writing of this blog post and I don’t advocate littering so please do clean up after yourselves if you have your own mini Boston Tea Parties).

As far as I’m aware there are building CODES in America, but there’s no Big Brother telling you that your window frames have MUST be white and your extension HAS to made of Bath stone.

Can we weigh in on this one, peeps?  Am I the only one that breaks out in hives every time someone mentions planning permission?

How to have the best day in Bath, England – EVER.

I spent the most awesome day ever in Bath with my brother, Leonard and his wife Ella who were visiting from Chicago.  We had such a good time, that I though I should write about our itinerary in case anyone else is going to a pilgrimage to the beautiful Bath sometime soon.

Step 1 – Cream Tea at the Pump Rooms

You won’t regret hanging out in this gigantic, gorgeous, chandelier-y spot.  The cream tea is delish (two scones – one fruit and one plain – strawberry jam and clotted cream) and I can also happily recommend the Welsh Rarebit if you’re looking for something savoury.  It’s worth it for the atmosphere alone – there was a piano player tickling the ivories when we were there.  He did what we came to call The Moon Mash-up – he played Moon River, Fly Me to the Moon and Paper Moon in a single glorious medley.  Excellent.

(check out the Pump Rooms website for directions, menus, or just to oggle)

Step 2 – The Roman Baths

Ok.  I’m being serious.  Go here.  Shut down your computer, iPad, or smart phone.  Get your coat.  Finish reading this later.

The level of history is something that me and my American family-peeps were completely unprepared for.  I’ve never said the word ‘awesome’ so many times in 90 minutes.

It’s beautiful, fascinating, and comes with a top-notch free audio tour.  Legendary expat, Bill Bryson, has even done a set of audio segments that are priceless – not to be missed.

(check out the Roman Baths website – that is, if you haven’t stopped reading already as per my instructions)

Step 3 – Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

Leonard, Ella and I are all carnivorous readers and so we couldn’t resist a trip to this gem in Bath’s crown.  The shop itself is lovely and has an outstanding selection of books (with all purtiest book covers, too) – but what makes it stand apart is the staff.  No question is too small and they make glorious recommendations.  They are SO FREAKING LOVELY there.

It’s worth mentioning that their gift wrap is also completely adorbs.

(check out Mr. B’s lovely website – it’s cute-patoot)

Step 4 – The Royal Crescent

We found our way to the Royal Crescent by asking a passing stranger where it was.  The exchange went something like this:

Me:  ”Excuse me.  I’ve heard there a big pretty row of houses somewhere that we should go and look at – do you know what that is?”

Friendly man: “You must mean the Royal Crescent… [insert directions and laughter here]

You’ll be shocked to know that ‘big pretty row of houses’ doesn’t quite do it justice.  It’s definitely worth a look!

(learn more about the Royal Crescent on your best-interweb-friend and mine, Wikipedia)

Step 5 – Thermae Bath Spa

Ok.  You have to go here, too.  Don’t go to Bath without coming here, just don’t.  It’s thermal.  It’s a bath.  It’s a spa.  For the love of God, what else do you want?

We opted to get in for ‘last orders’ at 7pm and spend two hours watching the sun set from the thermal roof-top pool.  We also frequented the scented steam rooms a couple of times (Sandalwood was our fave).  But most of our time was spent floating in perfectly heated mineral pools and looking at gorgeous views across Bath.

NICE.

(Fancy a warm floaty sunset-y Bath extravaganza?  What a dumb question, of course you do – here’s the Thermae Bath Spa website)

Step 6 – Eat food and drink wine

This last step is optional, but I highly recommend it.  We ended up in Carluccio’s where the happiest waiter on earth served us the tastiest garlic bread I’ve ever laid taste-buds on.

But there are far too many awesome restaurants in Bath to count – if anyone has any suggestions, bring it on!


And that’s the end of the recommended ‘Best day in Bath – EVER’ guide.  I’m sure that I’m missing things, but this list made for an awesome, but not too busy day out.

It’s going to be one of those days that ages in my head like a warm tasty whiskey – it’s going to get better and better the more I remember it.  And THAT is the sign of a good day.  A very good day, indeed.

DIY? DI-Because.

I’ve always had a pretty straight forward attitude to DIY, and that’s D. I. DON’T.  But the tables have turned – and I’m tempted to sand-down those turning tables and paint them heritage Farrow & Ball Pavilion Blue.

When I first moved to the UK, I was adamantly anti-DIY.  Why fix it, when you can buy a new one and grab a Starbucks on the way back home?  (Mmmm… Starbucks…)  It’s bizarre because I come from a creative family of fixers and menders – but somehow the 21st century consumption (20th century back then) had a firm hold on me.

But let me take you back to the beginning of my DIY-downfall.  Little did I know what my future held when I first started dating Mr. Nice Guy at the tender but fearless age of 17.  He was already dreaming of owning his first house – but not just any house – a FIXER-UPPER.  When he first said these words aloud, they struck horror in my very core.  ”Surely,” I thought, “By ‘fixer-upper’ he means brand new house, freshly and professionally painted complete with landscaped garden!”

No.  No he did not.

In fact, what he meant was a Victorian house built in the late 1800′s with knackered wiring, leaky plumbing, damp crumbling plaster and asbestos in the loft.  *shudder*

Don’t get me wrong, I get it.  I see why it’s sensible to buy an old fusty bargain, rip it apart and put it back together again.  It’s a good investment (at least it was before the housing market crash), you can create your ideal home, you get the exact kitchen and bathroom that you want AND you get the satisfaction of the ‘I did that’ moment when it’s all finished in utterly glorious splendour.

Fast forward to a year ago (2011) when we started looking for a house in earnest.  The thought of all that work always niggled at my mind (sometimes it’s stomped all over my mind like the T-rex in Jurassic Park when the electric fences failed.)  How long would it take?  How much would it cost?  How could I cope with the upheaval?  How much would it COST?  Could we both keep our businesses running and redo a house at the same time?  HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST?

The thought of it conjured up images of Mr. Nice Guy and I banding together and petitioning the UK government for an official day-time extension.  It would read something like this:

“We, Yankeebean and Mr. Nice Guy, formerly request that the 24-hour length of the UK day be extended to 32-hours, therefore increasing the amount of time the aforementioned applicants may then spend re-plastering the second bedroom.”

But I reasoned with myself that all the positives would out-weigh the negatives and I remained open to the idea of taking on a DIY dinosaur.

To be fair, Mr. Nice Guy was entirely open to the idea of getting a house that was already done-up – something that we could move right in to.  We came at from the same angle – If we find a house that we love, we’ll put an offer in regardless of the state it’s in.

So we looked.

And we looked and we looked.

And lo and behold, a house that was recently re-done came along!  It lit Mr. Nice Guy’s fire because it’s Victorian from the late 1800′s.  And my fire was blazing because it had just been completely redone, freshly painted, re-wired and had a brand new boiler.  Plus it was gorgeous – totes adorbs – and we both knew that it was worth going for it.

Fast-forward lots of paperwork, red-tape, terrifying amounts of money and celebratory champagne aaaaaaaand — WE’RE IN!

And though I don’t have to worry about fusty plaster laced with asbestos, I find there’s still lots of little jobs to do.  AND I LOVE IT.

I never DREAMED I’d be so excited about sanding and painting a cabinet for the living room.  The official term is ‘up-cycling’, but I call it ‘I-can’t-afford-to-buy-it-from-John-Lewis-so-I’m-going-to-buy-it-off-Ebay-for-ten-quid-and-do-it-myself-ing’.

Mr. NG asks if I want to help put up some shelves and what do I say?  ”YES!” I almost shout – like he’s just gotten down on one knee to propose and I’m accepting.

SO, when did it happen?  When did I become Aunty-DIY instead of anti-DIY?  I suspect somewhere around the time that I signed that scary mortgage contract and sent it, sweaty-palmed, back to the bank.

But one thing I know for certain, along with learning to love Marmite-spreading, wellie-wearing, and weather-discussing – learning to love DIY has made me even a little more English.  How about you lot?  Any DIY converts out there?

The Royal Wedding!!! Have you ever SEEN so many crazy-mazing hats??

I literally feel exhausted after watching the royal wedding.  I was soooooo freakin’ excited!!  Far more excited, in fact, than I ever thought I’d be.

PeacefulYorkshire and I were Skyping each other while watching the prep on the BBC.  It was awesome watching Wills ride to the Westminster Abby (not a shabby place to tie the knot, I must say…).  Kate’s dress was insanely gorgeous – she looked completely perfect.  I think she did an awesome job of masking the outright terror she must have felt because of the pressure and attention.  I walked down the aisle with 35 people watching at it almost ended me… 2 billion and I would’ve needed to be air-lifted down the aisle with a special lacey bridal oxygen tank for good measure.

But my favourite part (aside from the ceremony, my Brit-lovin’-darlings) was the HATS.  Have you ever seen such outstanding hats in your life???  I couldn’t get enough of it.  I still can’t get enough of it… I’m going to have to Google some pictures after I write this.

I want one… a HUGE one.  A hat so big that the person next to me has to move down a chair because my swirly bits of fabric are waggling too close for comfort.

Have any of you lovely ladies bought giant hats or fascinators for weddings or the races?  I’ve yet to join that club… but I think I’m caving fast…

Congrats Wills and Kate!  You’re both gorgeous, lovely and surfing on a giant wave of wonga – the ladies of She’s Not From Yorkshire wish you the royal best! :)

What did you American ladies get from your British men on Valentine’s Day?

We got this comment today about Valentine’s Day gifts and I actually shook my fist at my laptop screen when I read it!!

my husband bought me a cd . . . that he wanted. : ((((((((

yankeebean

Noooooooo!  What ever happened to flowers?  Candles?  CHOCOLATE, for God’s sake!  You can never EVER go wrong with chocolate…

To our sassy commenter, I hope you got him a massage for you for his present…

It made me wonder what all you lovely expat American ladies are getting from your British hunka-hunkas this Valentine’s Day.  Mr Nice Guy and I are making a super fancy dinner together as our present to each other.  Including gin and tonics (our fave) and tiramasu for pudding.  Mmmmm… I’m hungry…

So what did you guys get??  I’m ready to celebrate and/or commiserate with you as required…

Move to England and become a sun zombie…

yankeebean

When I moved here in 2004 I used to laugh when the sun would come out.   English people across the nation would drop everything and wander, like zombies, to the nearest sun-soaked surface…

Free will was abandoned, the work day crawled to a halt, grown men walked through town centres without shirts on (*shudder*).   People scrambled madly at the sound of the ice-cream-van-twinkle; praying they had the essential £1.10 so they could afford the king of all ice creams – the Magnum… (freakin’ YUM!)

But the part that always stumped me the most was the reckless abandon when it came to skin care. It happened every time!  Half-naked Brits stumbled into midday the sun, where they would stay until they were burnt to a bright red crisp…  And it wasn’t accidental, either.  I’ve spoken to plenty of British people that set out to burn at the first opportunity so that it will fade to a tan.

Why oh why oh why would the pastiest nation set out to burn themselves??  Why??  (BTW, I’m allowed to call people pasty because nobody’s is pastier than I am.  I always said that if there was a concealer colour called ‘pasty cadaver’, that would be the colour I would need)…

The thing is, all skin care worries aside – I’ve DEFINITELY turned into a sun zombie.  I wear a layer of sun screen a foot thick, but I will drop everything and stumble into the sun, squinting and confused, at the first opportunity.  And there I’ll stay, until I’m literally drunk with vitamin D – until even the thought of sun hurts my brain.  But even as I limp back inside, I’m thinking in the back of mind, “This might be my last chance… my last chance to see the sun until next year”.

Especially with Mount Supercalifragilisticexpatalidocious erupting in Iceland… that ash-y bastard…