A week from today and I should be in London, England. I'm ready. I've been boning up on British vernacular and customs. To better understand the brogue, I've been playing English movies on my telly (British, for television). This week I watched Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later--both good zombie flicks too--and Thunderball with Sean Connery as James Bond.
Not only do I have a better handle now on the accent, but if the dead should happen to rise up while I'm across the pond, I'll know how to dispatch them as well. And remember how I puzzled over an internet comment to be wary of English soccer fans looking for some "afters" following the soccer game my boys and I are supposed to attend? Well, I found out what "afters" means in British parlance.
"Afters" is what is referred to as "dessert" in Britain. I'm not entirely sure what it means in the context of post-soccer game activity. Maybe it's tradition for the losing side to pelt winning fans with muffins or cakes or something. Anyway, if I see someone pulling a fritter out of their pocket, I'll be prepared to duck.
Though I did finally receive an e-mail voucher for our hotel rooms, I still worried that I had not spoken to a live person throughout all of my travel arrangements. So I decided to call the hotel directly to confirm my reservations. Or bookings, as they call them in Britain.
That didn't prove easy to do. Three times I called the hotel in London. Three times I got the equivalent of voicemail and a promise that they would return my call. I didn't feel like playing international phone tag, so I hung up.
Finally I called the hotel chain's national booking (reservation) number and got a live English lady on the phone. After explaining my situation, she confirmed my booking and offered to give me my official reservation number. Great. Exactly what I wanted.
"Quebec, Oscar, Romeo--", she began. Whoa, whoa, whoa. I interrupted. What was this? She better repeat it and slow down. So this time she said, "Q-O-R . . ."
Ohhhhhh, I get it. It's like Q as in Quebec, O as in Oscar, etc. But isn't it R as in Robert, O as in Ocean? Apparently not over there. This wasn't covered in Shaun of the Dead.
Later I learned that she was using the phonetic alphabet used in civil aviation. Did she think I was flying MYSELF over to London? Hardly. Then she continued, "Dubbletoo . . . " Whoa, whoa, whoa again. I thought I had this king's English down but dubbletoo was a word I had not come across in Frommer's.
"Two, two," she repeated. Oh, I got it now. She meant double two. Here come the numbers. I wrote them down and at last I had my reservation numbers. She offered to e-mail me the reservation confirmation, but I felt satisfied that everything was hunky dorey. Hmmmmmm, I hope that translates the same in Britain.
Then she concluded with a friendly, "Buboye." Wow! She sounded just like the heroine in Shaun of the Dead.