Tuesday, April 29, 2008
From time to time, I have had a very few posts which I was reluctant to take down, which I wanted to leave up longer because they were so interesting or because they meant so much to me personally. One of those past posts that comes to mind was Claire's humorous explanation of how one goes about getting a leg over in your fair land. I hated to see that one be superseded by another post. The post that is now below this one is another example. I really am sad to see it disappear from the top of this page. It wasn't even about British words at all, but about values and aspirations, and passion--and about a special lady who calls herself Marmelade--who in my mind embodies all of these things, and so much more. But, with some regret, I move forward, encouraged by the fact that the Lady herself still chooses to be among us.
The most recent chapter-topic of my book, before I was delightfully sidetracked by the discovery of Enid Blyton, was about food. Before that we had quite a bit of sex together (and individually), and I have high hopes of having even more when our dedicated roving sex reporter, Claire, is again able to gather her thoughts and give us a report about yet another fascinating British custom in that arena. But today, we shall open a new chapter called "Traffic and Transportation".
I am not sure who invented the automobile—some German fellow, I think, in the late 19th century—but, very soon thereafter came a great rush of road-building to accommodate all those new automobiles. All that furious road-building, in turn, was soon followed by a throng of adventurous Brits who were just GAGGING to get out and drive on the wrong side of those new roads.
This is a fertile topic of discussion. So great are our differences with regard to traffic and transportation, I am almost hesitant to take it on. But take it on I shall, with your help—although we may indeed expand it beyond the one single chapter before we have exhausted the possibilities. It is hard for me to decide where to start, even. And so, as is often the case with your silly blog-host, I will start, I think, by going in circles.
As I said, there are many differences indeed between British and American traffic rules, and one of the most obvious examples is something called the Traffic Circle. The main difference, of course, is that you HAVE them and we don't. Oh, there are a few of these incomprehensible things, scattered unexpectedly here and there across America, but no American driver worth his salt would have a clue how to use them. You may be sure than any road sign which has a circle painted on it will only cause American drivers to run into one another and begin rolling around in circles.
The above photo makes more sense if you know the little girl's name is Hannah. (Thanks to Colin at ADELAIDE GREEN PORRIDGE CAFE for the photo.)
Worse, you don't even CALL them traffic circles. In your country (I think) they are referred to as "Round Abouts", which, to this poor American mind simple conjures up vague images of children's Merry-Go-Rounds. Which of course, in turn, I suppose you refer to as Carousels—or some even more obscure name, which I can't even begin to fathom right now. But I have made a wrong turn here, haven't I? Let us return to the main road.
What I would like to do, since I have not had the delightful experience of driving in your fair land, is to ask those of you who have enjoyed the hellish nightmare that is the American freeway system, to please begin our chapter by making comments about any obvious differences that pop into your mind. Those of you who have NOT had the pleasure of this mind-numbing torture—and you should thank your lucky stars that you have been thus favored—will still comment, I hope, on any traffic or transportation differences you are aware of, and please bring up subtopics you feel we should explore in this chapter.
Let's not restrict it to any single narrow topic for the time being. Please talk about any differences at all in the names we call things, any differences in traffic signs, laws, procedures--whatever. The only thing I ask is that we limit our initial discussions more or less to driving, and leave trains and planes for another day. Who can start?