Tuesday, September 17, 2013

5 Things I Don't Miss About The UK, By a British Expat

Those who read my blog on a frequent basis understand that, since moving to the United States, I have retroactively grown to thoroughly appreciate the UK - specifically my homeland, England - more and more with each passing year. But occasionally, reminding myself that not everything is always greener on the other side (and other cliches), I like to ponder the things I don't miss about the UK. Here are 5 such things.

1. CCTV everywhere.
They go by almost unnoticed, but closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are in operation en masse throughout the United Kingdom. With estimates ranging anywhere from 1.5 million to 5 million devices, the UK is widely understood to be the so-called "most watched country in the world." Ironically, the old house of George Orwell - whose novel Nineteen Eighty-Four forewarned its readers against the dangers of a dystopian surveillance state - is surrounded by 32 cameras within a 200 yard perimeter. On the other hand, one could argue in favour of CCTV, if only to combat number 2 on this list.

2. ASBO teenagers
It is rare that I feel unsafe during a night out. As someone who errs on the side of statistics, I usually believe the odds are in my favour that I won't be beaten up and/or mugged. However, walking the streets of my home town late on a Friday night, the sight of 6 hooded youths (colloquially known as ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order)) kids sitting on a railing often made me question said odds. When faced with this proposition, I would always be on my guard - ready to pull out my invisible gun and engage the enemy in a slow motion fight to the death, just like in the video below.

 

3. The word Minger
We all have words that grate on us. For me, the word minger is the most repugnant in British English, not least because of its definition (n. an unattractive person). The leading cause, however, of the word's detestable status is the way (or ways) in which it is pronounced by my fellow countrymen. Extra emphasis is often placed on the final syllable, resulting in a sound so nauseous, I become enraged almost enough to warrant an ASBO. 


4. The cost of living
I will preface this section by saying I don't live (yet) in somewhere like New York City, where the cost of living is perhaps fairly comparable to England. But even when I was living outside of London - where I once paid £12 for a pint of beer - my personal expenditure was higher by necessity. As a student living in the relatively affordable city of Lancaster, my rent was as high as £530. As it happens, 530 is also the number of dollars (333 pounds) I pay for my current spacious apartment in Indianapolis. Moreover, my American readers might not believe this, but the cost of gas in the U.S. is incredibly cheap! The UK's average petrol cost a year ago was £6.22 ($9.85) per gallon.

5. The British National Party
Americans often tell me they admire the British political system: 3 major parties; regular Commons debates; and rhetoric that is somehow less divisive than that of American politicians. Of course, the majority of Americans are probably not familiar with the British National Party - a far right front whose mission is, in essence, to rid the UK of immigrants. While I could draw direct comparisons between the BNP and the National Socialist Movement in the United States, the fact remains that the BNP actually has 2 seats in the European parliament.

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2 comments:

tlsmith63 said...

How can British people go anywhere when gas is that high?! And is the UKIP like the BNP? I heard that the UKIP is pretty racist.

Rachel said...

Things in America are unbelievably cheep. I was amazed, although the presence of 1c coins and $1 notes (or rather, their propensity for filling up my purse with note-very-much-if-we're-being-honest), and the utter lack of VAT/GST/tax warning really got on my nerves. (I also add there that I live somewhere where it's actually illegal for businesses to advertise or quote prices that don't already have tax added. Also fruit and vegetables aren't taxed. Paying an extra 17c for my labelled-as-$2-orange on my second day really threw me). But, yeah, you make some good points. America is cheep, and CCTV is just too much. Every time I go back, I'm afraid there's some pervert in an office somewhere watching me wander around town, putter around the house, or go to public toilets. I don't suppose watching Torchwood, where they abuse the CCTV in just about every episode, helps in the least with this paranoia.

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