1. An alarm alerted the TSA agents when I stood in the body scanner at airport security. It told them I had, perhaps, a concealed weapon or narcotics in my pocket. I was ordered to step aside as security guards with guns flanked my position in all directions. A TSA lady, who could be anyone’s mom and probably puts sweet messages on Post-it notes under her kids’ pillows, told me to carefully remove the contents of my pocket. I pulled out Kleenex. She said, “Okay, you have tissue. What else?” (she’s thinks I’m stalling, hoping to not reveal the hand grenade I have hidden.) I explained I had chapstick in my pocket and that was it. “Remove the chapstick,” she said with much authority. I pulled it out slowly and she instructed me to open it up. Taking the cap off, I twisted the chapstick upward. As soon as the TSA lady saw the lip balm stick made of camphor and beeswax pop up, she jumped back. She may have watched too many James Bond movies or Get Smart TV shows in her life as she believed my chapstick would certainly shoot bullets or spray some kind of poison gas. When no danger seemed evident, I got the go-ahead to continue on my journey. (I’m actually grateful for the TSA and their scrutiny, making travel more safe for us all.)
2. In the U.K. there are two kinds of water, sparkling water and “still” water. In restaurants, you are asked to clarify when you ask for water. Flight attendants on our Aer Lingus flight also wanted clarification. “Do you want still water?” the people of the United Kingdom want to know. Their question reminds me of the passage in the Bible, “He leads me beside still waters.” Who knew the Psalmist meant leading to water in the U.K.? As an aside, the U.K. “still” water tastes extra delicious because they serve it to you in a glass bottle as if it were champagne. They pour the still water in your glass with the same finesse you’d expect for your order of Dom Perignon. In the U.S, we don’t care if our water sits still or hops around as long as it’s cold and with ice and free. In the U.K., you pay about three pounds for water.
3. In the event you plan to visit the British Isles, you may want to familiarize with some terms. Take Scotland. They say “aye” and that means yes. They also say “cheeky.” I asked a young Scottish lassie serving my sister Jodee and me some fine Scottish tea, “What does cheeky mean?” “Arrrrible,” she said. “Well,” I asked, “why does a rental truck have a sign on the side of it claiming to give cheeky service if it means horrible?” She smiled at me without reply. “To be funny?” I asked. “Aye,” she said. Oh well, I love the Scottish humor. I’m not sure how that allures more business by claiming to be horrible. They must know it’s all in fun. I actually like the word “cheeky” and plan to use it quite frequently from here on. That, and the word “hebetudinous” as I like that word too. Please don’t be cheeky or hebetudinous. (I’m practicing using those words now as you can see.) And finally you need to know there’s a breakfast item in England called “Bubble and Squeak.” It’s made of fried mashed potatoes with shavings of vegetables inside it. After you eat it, you will know why it’s called Bubble and Squeak.
4. Seat belts are a compulsory requirement on every bus in the U.K. I’m sure this law became a requirement since all U.K. bus drivers speed like crazy people. The drivers speed on motorways and they speed through tight, narrow cobbled stone streets. They speed for this reason: to make sure your photos come out blurry. The tour guide on the bus will announce on the microphone something like…”there’s such-and-such castle on your right,” and you aim your camera in the hope of a nice shot. As you do, the bus driver puts the pedal to the metal and whoo, you’re on your face in the bus aisle (obviously didn’t have my seatbelt strapped on). In addition, people–fellow tourists–make double-certain your pictures don’t t come out, in case the driver didn’t knock you over with his speed-demon tactics. The fellow tourists wait for the bus driver to stop at a light giving you hope for a moment of photographic greatness. You line up the perfect shot and just as you “click” the camera, your fellow tourist sticks his head in the way. Bam! You have a picture of his head rather than the giant cannon on a gilded Paris street.
There’s much more to learn about the British Isles. Stay tuned. In my next blog, I’ll write about the kindnesses I experienced, the kindness I witnessed my sister Jodee give to strangers, and how I got locked in a tiny bathroom … so please look forward to the exciting next installment–which will be Part III to this series.
♥♥♥have a cheeky week! (Scottish humor)