Saturday, January 31, 2009


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.


Blogger Lynilu said...

I'm going to watch the BBC headlines while you're there. I just have a feeling ....

3:40 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

I for one can hardly wait for you to come back and tell us all about your adventures!!!!

8:25 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Dave, you might regret making those long distance calls....When Bonnie went to Italy, she called her cousin twice to confirm that he would be picking her up at the airport and talked very briefly with him,,,,,,It cost her just over $ 200.00!!!!

The phonetic alphabet is used all over the world...especially in ham call sign is: Kelo Echo 5, Kelo India Oscar...KE5KIO It makes it easier when corresponding with people all over the world.

Here's hoping that you have a wonderful time...Take lots of pictures.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LYNILU--I definitely want to stay under the BBC radar. I'm tring to blend in with the populace.

CARINE--I'm bringing my notebook so I can jot down some highlights. Not taking my laptop though.

LUCY--Yikes. Hope we're in England before Wendy gets the phone bill. I knew I should have said, "Reverse the charges."

I'll be taking lots of pictures, for sure.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Betty said...

I'm not sure if the fan celebrating "afters" would be pulling a fritter out of his pocket- it's more likey to be either a crumpet or a "bicky", according to an ex-boyfriend of mine who grew up in England. My understanding is that a "bicky" is like a large, tasteless and colorless Oreo. And I hope you can verify that information for me during your trip.

Have a great time and don't lose your camera!


9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wishing you a Bon Voyage, Dave. But I think you'll really see, English is English....unless it's a Cockney accent over there.
OH, and don't forget to bring your snow shovel to Jolly Ole England. I'm sure you're aware...they got hit with the most snow in 20 years AND no snow plows. Have fun!

5:39 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

It's going to be an adventure Dave, I'm sure you'll cope with it all but I look forward to hearing about plenty more "differences" as you discover them.

1:54 PM  
OpenID caroldee said...

SO funny 6 inches of snow and the whole city comes to a standstill I sure hope you dont go from Michigan snow to LONDON SNOW.heheh that would just be cruel! I will wish you a jolly ole time in
London town!! PIP PIP and all that ROT! : ) safe travels !!

8:46 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

BETTY--A bicky? Well, I do want to sample the native cuisine there but I was hoping something more in the line of fish and chips.

TERRY--I didn't realize snow was so rare in London. At least it didn't happen while we were there. I hear most of the public transportation in the city was down.

PETER--It seems like I know more about Australia, through my blogging buddies like you, than I know about the U.K. So I'm looking forward to seeing what cultural differences there may be.

CAROLDEE--I've been watching the snow on the ground in London via various webcams. It's almost all gone, but it did look somewhat pretty. I kept thinking of Christmas Carol from Dickens.

1:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have fun in England!


9:22 AM  
Blogger amarkonmywall said...

It's seven days later and I trust you're happily frolicking across the pond. Have a pint and a scotch egg for me!

6:04 PM  
Blogger Nankin said...

I hope you have a wonderful trip.. Keep an eye out for flying "afters".

4:05 PM  
Blogger Nankin said...

I hope you have a wonderful trip.. Keep an eye out for flying "afters".

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:46 PM  

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