Going to the cinema

I interrupt our regularly scheduled ‘Favourite Things’ post to provide an alternate glimpse into Being an Ex-pat.

Yesterday I was positively bouncing with excitement to finally see The Hunger Games. Ros had gamely offered to go with me, despite not having read the book, since everyone else we knew had already gone. I wore boots and my hair in a braid to channel Katniss and wished that I had a ‘District 12’ t-shirt. I smuggled in a bag of M&M’s, purchased a small sprite and salty popcorn, and joined Ros in a mostly-empty theatre with the best seats: as close to middle-middle as we could. Meanwhile, Ros was only beginning to be bemused. I was clearly displayingAmerican movie-going behaviour.

For one thing, she was surprised at my perfectly normal snack choices of popcorn & M&M’s. This is indicative of a larger cultural difference: most British people I know won’t mix sweet and savoury things together. They think it’s incredibly weird. Every Thanksgiving, this topic comes up, and the British people present express their bafflement that we Americans would mix something as savoury as turkey with something as sweet as sweet potato casserole. It is one of the reasons, I suspect, that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a truly foreign concept to my British friends. They know Americans eat them, but won’t themselves. And so it is with classic movie snacks: M&M’s and salty (but alas, not buttery) popcorn.

Secondly: I sat through the credits. When the lights came up, everyone stood as one and within minutes the theatre was empty. Ros stood as well, but I was sitting in the aisle seat. We sat through the credits, I casually commenting on this name and that, waiting to see where it was filmed (‘North Carolina! Good, I’m glad.’) and who had done the music. Once one of the cinema staff came in and pointedly looked at us, but I ignored him. So what if we were the only ones in the theatre? I wanted to see the credits. When we finally left the lights were out in the foyer and he was already locking up. Staying for the credits certainly isn’t a British thing to do.

There were other little differences: the types of adverts and previews before the film started. I visit the cinema so infrequently that I forget about them. The largest screen at our cinema is the size of one of the small screens at any of the Regal Cinemas in San Antonio. The small screen here is little bigger than watching something on a projector. There are only three screens. Granted, I live in a small town. The one time I went to the ‘proper’ cinema in Dundee, that felt more like a ‘real’ movie theatre: it even had escalators!

What did I think of the film? I really enjoyed it. I might have enjoyed it more had I not already read the books — I mean this only in the sense that because I already knew what was going to happen that this element of suspense was lacking. But I loved Katniss and Rue and Haymitch and Cinna and President Snow was creepy and the tracker jackers totally made my poor allergic-to-wasps housemate freak out (sorry Ros!) and it was filmed in North Carolina where it ought to have been, so I am glad. I noticed only one thing missing and that was the bread that District 11 sent to Katniss, which I loved in the book, but it also would have been rather difficult to explain. The sets, the costuming, the cinematic quality of it (it’s all about one huge TV show after all) was well done. This fan is happy.

Now, where can I get a mockingjay pin?

Under 25? Actually, no.

I went to Morrisons today for my weekly shop. On the menu this week is risotto, which necessitates white wine. Having never been carded before at Morrisons, I was not anticipating any problems. However, when I handed the cashier my Texas driving license as a form of I.D., she said, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t accept this form of I.D. It has to be a UK driving license or your passport.’

My expression was one of utter surprise, and I cannot entirely remember what I said. Something along the lines of ‘Really?’ with tones of disbelief and criticism.

She explained that she could lose her job or pay a hefty fine. Meanwhile, I was thinking to myself, But my driving license is a government issued form of I.D…

‘I’m twenty-six,’ I said. The signs in Morrisons all say Under 25? Don’t mind if we card you, etc. I don’t exactly look seventeen anymore.

While she rang up the rest of my items, I pointed out that since I live in this country, I wasn’t going to be carrying my passport around. She said it used to be that they would only accept British passports. I thanked her curtly and left the shop.

On my way home, I stopped by the co-op and picked out a bottle of white wine. The cashier asked for my I.D. and I handed her my Texas driving license. She said, ‘Perfect,’ and gave it back to me. Thank you, Spar, for proving Morrisons to be absolutely ridiculous.

Edited: In a fit of customer annoyance, I sent a complaint to Morrisons explaining what had happened. Their response admitted that they are actually unable to accept non-UK passports as forms of I.D. either. They suggested that I purchase a PASS approved Proof of Age card (which are £10). Hah!

WORD COUNT: 23,913

By any other name

Who knew that moving across the sea meant that I would plagued with being mistaken for a famous popstar? I need to learn how to pronounce my name with an English or Scottish accent lest my identity continue to be confused. Then the pharmacists and shop clerks would no longer look at me in puzzlement, and bankers wouldn’t think that my housemate is trying to transfer funds to someone who already has millions. It’s too bad that no one makes the reverse mistake — particularly the bankers — because then I could pay for my education. I have one glimmer of hope: the shop clerk told me today that the popstar is no longer going by her married name — let’s hope it sticks.

God made music

I’ve been in the mood for hymns lately, and I think it was one of my better decisions to bring my American hymnal along with me to Scotland. Every now and again it is refreshing to sing the old, old story with melodies that I know.

Between Ros’s cello practice and singing madrigals, my singing along with Kate Rusby and the occasional Baptist hymn, and that we most often play BBC3 or jazz in our kitchen, our neighbours must think we are very eclectic indeed.

Sleep tight…

If ever I have children, I will teach them to never make their beds. I got over a stomach bug only to get the dreaded summer cold only to get a sore throat and bed bugs. Upon informing my landlords, one of whom is an entomologist, we caught one of these accursed creatures to have its identity verified. My mattress, etc., has been hoovered within an inch of its life and I am borrowing a set of very pink sheets because all of mine are in the wash.

Which leads me to my next point: the only thing to do with said sheets, once they are out of the washer, is to hang them outside. With a forecast of rain. Yet another reason this country needs to recognize that tumble dryers are the way of the future.

Meanwhile, my throat hurts and I look like I thought dancing with mosquitoes, or sleeping in a fire ant hill, was a brilliant idea. I’m tired and everything else right now is at an impasse—I do not need a break so much as a breakthrough.

At least I survived the first one hundred pages of The Name of the Rose. Maybe now my penance is complete and God will forgive me for laughing in church.