Things I Miss
I’ve begun making a mental list of little conveniences that I took for granted in the U.S. and that, for one reason or another, never caught on here. This should by no means be interpreted as a latent desire to move back, however, since there are just as many things that I’ve discovered since my arrival that I’m surprised never made it to the U.S. (I think another blog entry’s called for). Anyway, here’s the current list:
Door and window screens
Every time I open a window or the balcony door and a large bug of some description flies into the flat, I puzzle over the lack of screens. You would think Brits would want to enjoy the nice breeze you get in the summer when you open the front and back door and leave the screen doors closed, without feeling like you’re inviting random strangers/thieves/stray animals to come inside. The only reason I can think of for this is that most Brits believe that the weather is always terrible (even though it isn’t) so why would they ever want to leave a door or window open to let the weather in? It will be interesting to see if screens become more popular with the warmer temperatures.
Porcelain toilet seats
This isn’t to say that the U.K. is completely devoid of porcelain and the U.S. has no plastic, but I’ve yet to come across a porcelain toilet seat here. It’s amazing how many times I’ve thought wistfully to myself how much I miss the reassuring sturdiness of porcelain under my bottom.
I think I miss garbage disposals more than anything else. I never realized how much easier it is to clean up after a meal when you can simply scrape the food remnants off the plate and into the sink, flip a switch (allowing the disposal to do its work) and then load everything into the dishwasher. Having to dispose of garbage in the waste basket is not only messier (try holding up the lid while attempting NOT to get food on the floor and sides of the basket) but also smellier, unless you empty the trash daily.
Electrical outlets in the bathroom
I understand the reasons for not having outlets in the bathroom. But if people are stupid enough to electrocute themselves with hairdryers, curling irons and other electrical devices, their demise is, though certainly unfortunate, not a good enough reason for giving me daily neck and leg aches while I kneel awkwardly in front of a mirror that I’ve propped up against the bedroom wall. Yes, I know, I could go out and spend £400 on a dressing table that goes with my furniture, but right now, my budget won’t allow it.
I’m not convinced that having a rectangular cutout in the front door instead of a mailbox makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, the cutout’s size only allows for envelopes and very thin packages, which means that you either have to be home to receive bulkier mail or go through the hassle of picking it up at the post office. Second, there’s no flag to indicate that you have mail for the postman to pick up – not that they would anyway, because British postmen don’t consider retrieving mail to be in their job description.
Pleasant post offices
I really miss walking into a clean, cheerful, spacious post office that exists for the sole purpose of moving mail. I think people buy into the Royal Mail franchise like they do 7-11s in the U.S., resulting in businesses that are part post office, part card/toy shop and part convenience store. The majority are unkempt, depressing and cramped, and I always feel happier after I’ve left one.
Forced air heating
From what I understand, heating a house via series of radiators is more cost efficient than the way Americans do it, but my issue is the radiators themselves, which take up wall space that could be used for furniture placement, are impossible to paint behind, and are – lets face it – not particularly attractive.
Clothes in my size
This problem has gone from being mildly annoying to serious since I recently found a job that requires professional attire. I take a U.S. size 2 Petite in suits and a 6 in shoes, the U.K. equivalents of which are 6 or 8 Petites (depending on cut) and a small size 3 in shoes. I’ve been to multiple stores in both Edinburgh and London, and have reached the unhappy conclusion that practically no one carries my size, and if they do, it sells out immediately. Obviously, there are fewer American women who are small rather than medium or large, but there are a handful of U.S. stores that carry a decent selection of petite sizes. After a month of searching, I did find one black suit at a Debenhams department store – it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it will have to do until I either have some made or take a trip back to the U.S.