It’s here. It’s happening. In the frozen flows from the outdoor pipe, the biting wind, the stinging in your hands as you fumble too late for gloves: the much warned-about winter is advancing. I’m writing this blog curled under a blanket on the sofa, clasping some life-preserving Tetley tea. Give it a couple more weeks and I might even consider a scarf.
At least the lights are out
At Ellen’s Master of Peppers chilli-making competition on Saturday, Agata and I celebrated being here for five months already. Time really has gone so quickly! (“Don’t blog about this as if all Americans hold chilli-making competitions,” warned Kristina. “And don’t blog that I told you not to, either!”. I’ve officially been here long enough that people are wary of my misreporting… now isn’t that something?)
Last week I also saw two more Common Room promoted plays. The first, Strandline, was an adaptation of a Northern Irish play from a few years ago, and was somewhat… confusing. It’s a shame when you leave a theatre wishing rather meekly for a bit more exposition of the plot: gets in the way of all those emotions you’re supposed to be having. I got more out of Watch on the Rhine (featuring friend-of-the-blog John Stokvis), and not just because of the lovely set, with seats scattered in all four corners of the fancy country house living room. This play dates back to 1941, as an anti-Nazi rallying call for an America not yet at war. It’s not exactly the most subtle of messages: if it was written today, I’m not sure I could stand the strength of the halo which beams from the anti-fascist hero and his too-perfect family. But as a piece of history, it was thought provoking.
It’s been a good week for experiencing some more American institutions. Halloween is, of course, a famously big deal here although I can’t say I really threw myself whole-heartedly into the dressing up. Still, after sushi a group of us went back to Nisreen’s (last seen back in December!) to watch The Empire Strikes Back.
My problem with Star Wars, which I should probably keep in my head more often, is that I’m about 80% on the side of the Empire. Sure, blowing up a planet certainly looks bad, but that would be true of almost any military action if you overlaid sinister music on top of it. And while they might pose as romantic freedom fighters, I’m not sure dissolving a galactic empire is wise or desirable. Perhaps the new sequels could adopt a more Fabian approach to fighting the Dark Side.
Just in case CNN didn’t provide enough maps
Speaking of battling against an unstoppable evil force, on Tuesday night I dressed all in blue, bought a load of Blue Moon and sat with Randi to watch the Midterm elections. It didn’t do much good, although it was hard to summon up the feeling that much was at stake anyway. American politics is like playing a giant (and very expensive) slot machine, which you get to spin every few years, but unless all the reels happen to line up with matching parties you don’t actually win anything.
Say what you like about the Empire, but at least Darth Vader wouldn’t subject you to campaign ads.
Boo for: Hershey’s. Billy bought me some after I complained it tasted like vomit, just to see if I had changed my mind. I hadn’t.
Yay for: Brother Matthew, who we waylaid outside the nearby church because we wanted to check if the standard answer to “but why exactly did God want to create the universe in the first place?” was going to be love. (Spoiler alert: it was.) Significantly less yay for the anti-abortion posters inside, bragging about how many abortion centres they’ve successfully closed.
Some of my phrases which have required explaining recently:
- Much of a muchness
- A whole other kettle of fish
- Going hell for leather