Recently, my band was invited to do a tour of England, so we packed up our shit and traveled to the land of bad teeth, tea, terrible weather, fish n’ chips and queens (not the borough nor fags, so much). Here’s what I learned while spending nine days in six different towns throughout the country, from Dorking in the south to Nottingham up north:
England is Old as Fuck
That may sound like a total “duh” since they basically founded our country, but what I actually mean is it gets really weird to navigate through old English cities, roads and buildings that were never really meant for you. Besides the zigzagging roads and tight alleys that were built for peasant pedestrians and the occasional burgher’s carriage, the houses themselves seem to be sagging beneath the weight of history. Some of them even appear to have been designed for an ancestral race of dwarfs. Like check out the hallway above; this is six-foot me attempting to stand up straight in it:
You can also tell the whole of England is from a bygone era because everything seems to have been named by a five-year-old with bouts of Tourette’s:
Roundabouts are Everywhere
Driving in England is bizarre — not only because of the whole left-side of the road thing, but also because the English never grasped the concept of an intersection. Instead, they decided to build a roundabout every time two roads met. If you’re using GPS — excuse me, “Sat Nav” — to get around, the electronic Nazi woman actually tells you to “make the second left at the roundabout” instead of just “go straight.” The situation gets so retarded that you need diagrams like the one above to illustrate where you’re going. How are you supposed to decipher that graph when you’re driving by at 70 MPH? Even worse, they had to paint “Look to the left” or “Look to the right” on London crosswalks. Something’s gotta be wrong when people need written directions on how to cross the street.
They Have a Pussy Problem
Felines are fucking everywhere. While staying at an arms (British for bar plus inn), we left the hallway door open and the bugger above snuck in to finish picking off a couple of chicken bones he’d found.
It’s OK though because the British have come up with a brilliant solution:
Scrumpy is the Shit
Scrumpy is like the old-timey version of Fourloko: highly alcoholic cider that goes down like apple juice, gets you into fistfights, makes you piss on your own shoes, then comes up tasting only slightly worse. True, it doesn’t have caffeine, but it still gets you really fucked up for cheap. I heard they were trying to ban it for all the aforementioned reasons, but I’m confident that scrumpy-lovers, if conscious, will not be put out without a fight.
English Food is Alright
Everyone thinks that English people can’t cook for shit. Luckily, this is not totally the case. I’ll get into chips later (see below), but the other typical English foods are pretty good too. Beans with eggs for breakfast sounds weird as fuck, but it’s actually pretty tasty. Deep-fried everything tastes great and is perfect for all-day drinking. Shit, even microwavable pasties — turnovers with a variety of fillings — beat Hot Pockets as stoner snacks.
The reason English food gets such a bad rap is because Brits suck at making other people’s food. Indian food and shawarma and stuff like that in England is fine because you typically have immigrant Pakis and A-rabs tending to it, but ask an English gal for arroz con pollo and you’re gonna get a boiled chicken and a potato. I ordered nachos (above) at a pub and got tortilla chips — sorry, “crisps” — with a coat of microwaved mystery cheese and ketchup. Also, the pizza we got from some ghetto fried chicken place (the kind that tend to be a staple in New York) tasted like cardboard and literally made everyone sick. So I guess my advice is stick with the spotted dick, whatever that may be.
Chips are Not Fries
You can’t call them French fries because they’re nothing like the Russet strings you get at American burger joints. Chips are skinned potatoes that have basically been quartered, deep fried, sprinkled with salt and drowned in vinegar. You can have them with ketchup (which for some reason is really liquid-y and artificial-tasting in England) and mayo, but they are fucking delicious as is. Only problem is that the English basically eat them for every meal. No wonder the average dress size in the U.K. is 16 (that’s a U.S. size 14).
British Birds are Healthy
Even in London, the stereotypical model figure isn’t nearly as ubiquitous as it is in New York. No loss because English girls being on the heavier side has led them to be the curviest in the world. Accordingly, loving boobs has become a national pastime with even non-pornographic fashion mags featuring well-endowed gals topless (see: Front).
English chicks being plump also seems to have the predictable chubby girl side-effect of making them all super trashy. Although American girls get caught with the reputation of being dirty skanks because of Snookie, Paris Hilton, etc., birds in England have that shit locked down. Micro-mini skirts, push-up bras and stilettos are all glorious things, but add a pound of make-up to that and dump it on a 14-year-old, and it is fucking scary.
That said, British perfection is hard to beat. We met the chick above during a house party where she was doing bumps of K and pounding hard cider. When she put on At the Drive-In and began screaming all the words, our drummer Sean fell in love. He’s now plotting to return to England, marry her, bring her State-side, buy a house and a dog, sire two children and live out the rest of his life with an immutable shit-eating grin.
English Bathrooms are Gross
I always thought that Indian bathrooms were awful because India is a third-world country, but during my trip to England, I realized that it might just be because of British influence. Bathrooms in England are fucking terrible. Maybe it was because I was traveling from pub to pub, punk house to house party, but it was just one shit-scented, pissed-stained torture chamber after another. Broken (or just plain missing) toilet seats, inoperable flushes, lukewarm showers with no pressure — even stayed at an arms with no showers and had to take a bath like a six-year-old. Also, how the fuck do you get warm water out of those sinks with two faucets, one for scalding hot and one for absolute-zero cold? It’s the 21st fucking Century, England: How have you not mastered the science of warm water?
England is Spic-less
Since there are no Hispanic people in England, this graffiti was obviously done by a hipster attempting to be ironic.
There are no Hispanic people in England. I may have seen one, but that was probably just an Anglo with a serious tan. Besides explaining why the nachos over there sucks, the lack of Spanish people also creates an interesting dilemma: Who does all the Mexican work? Who busses tables, cooks the food at every restaurant and does the manual labor? From what I could tell, everyone pitches in a bit: Pakis still got the gas stations and convenience stores covered, but they get some help from random Arabs and also wind up cooking foreign cuisine that they have no business getting their curried little fingers in. Other jobs, like rental car clerk and construction worker, seemed to get picked up by Polacks. So I guess every foreigner in England has got a little Mexican in ‘em?
You are Constantly Under Surveillance
In the Metro, inside a pub, on the highway — sorry, “motorway” — and even in a dead-end alley, there are security cameras EVERYWHERE. It’s enough to make a Libertarian’s head explode. I asked a few Brits about why they let their boy Orwell down so bad and got the same response you’d get from someone defending the Patriot Act: “It keeps us safe and besides, if you aren’t doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?” I think some dude even said this while we were doing lines.
Sniff is … Well, Still Not Sure
Multiple times while traveling through England, we were offered/asked for “sniff.” Sometimes this was cocaine, other times it was powder MDMA. The slang can’t just be a general term for snort-ables, right? I mean, you’d want to know whether you’re getting MDMA or coke or meth or K. You can snort all of those, but they’re definitely not interchangeable. Obviously, more in-depth research is needed here.
By the way: Despite there being no Spanish people and it being all fucks away from Colombia, cocaine is remarkably cheap in England. I remembering reading that it’s because there’s a new smuggling route through North Africa or some shit, but none of that really matters. Point is: CHEAP BLOW! (Or MDMA or meth or K, etc.)
“Shottingham” is Fucked
While driving up the M1, we kept seeing inexplicably ominous signs for “The NORTH.” Pretty sure they were trying to warn us about Nottingham. If that wasn’t clear enough, people in Birmingham and Manchester would cringe when we brought up traveling to “Shottingham” — apparently the gun-crime capital of the UK — and told us we were probably going to have a rough time there.
Things that happened during our single night in Nottingham, all while hanging out at some dance club after our set:
- Band-mate Sean makes a joke to a girl about immigrants, to which she replies, dead serious, “I wish they’d get the fuck out of our country.”
- Paki kid attempts to buy sniff from us, is astounded that a fellow Paki is capable of playing “in a rock band.”
- Other band-mate Austin almost gets into a fight after some douche randomly snatches his hat.
- Guy with a broken nose, dripping blood everywhere, staggers into the small sitting area adjacent to the dance floor, can’t find his way out until I help him to the stairs.
- Witness fights on the dance floor.
- Strangers utter the words “I’m not a racist, but…” multiple times, followed once by “I just hate black men” and another time by something about Pakis.
- One guy we meet goes on a tirade about how much he hates Pakis — but eventually lets all of us crash at his place.
- Sean gets offered sniff by a stranger in exchange for buying him a double sambuca & lemonade.
Weirdest. Place. Ever.
American Stereotypes are Always Fun
Chilling outside council houses in Milton Keynes.
I’ll end with what the English think of us. We outright asked a few Brits for their stereotypes of Americans, and apparently we all have really shitty accents like toothless yokels and are unbelievably fat, ultra-nationalistic, dimwitted, lazy, racist and fanatically religious. Even the few times we weren’t asking for caricatures, they claimed that we were paranoid, dangerous, foolhardy and, at best, were decent people with a government that was monstrously imperialistic. Yeah.