Wednesday, 15 October 2014

English things - faff, spiders and paving stones

I've been noticing a few things about living in England recently that I just wouldn't have known about until I moved here. As a public service I'm warning you about them...

Fright wig Rocky Horror
This came up by searching 'faff'?!?
In case you're not sure, to faff basically means 'fuss, flap, bother,' etc. It can be a verb or a noun i.e. "We can't faff around forever" or "There was the usual faff of getting through airport security". You can also be faffing about.

Let me warn you - there is a reason that this is a particularly English word. The flip-side of the beautifully polite and orderly queueing is a notable inefficiency. For example, even large chain cafes tend to have all their staff doing everything at once i.e. making coffee, taking orders, clearing tables (or not clearing them as the case may be). This is vastly slower than the practise in New Zealand of having a dedicated barista and someone else operating the till. I think the general tolerance of crowds and queues leads to less pressure to keep things moving. 

Autumn Spiders
I'm not going to give you a picture of this one! I'm fairly arachnophobic and I've been horrified to discover that it's an actual thing where every autumn large spiders suddenly start coming inside looking for a mate! This never happened in New Zealand (or least spiders came in every so often, but not en masse in one season). So far I've had two in bed at different times, including one crawling through my hair. NOT ON!

English street rain paving letterbox bicycles
Trick paving stones
Here's another good autumn/winter tip - beware of the trick paving stones! English footpaths are covered in all sorts of things from old cobblestones to stone blocks, pavers, concrete or asphalt. If you've got paving underfoot and it's been raining recently, do step carefully. What can happen (and it's happened to me) is that a loose paver gathers a little reservoir of muddy water. When the time is right (i.e. when you step on it), the paver gushes filthy water over your shoes, up your legs and possibly even manages to splash your coat. This will comprehensively ruin your day.

So, just a few handy tips if you're thinking of emigrating or visiting. Are you going to adopt the word 'faff' now? (Try it, it's fun!).

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