Friday, July 05, 2002

Ian suggested I post some of the thing I wrote when I first got to England. They are simply my observations, as an outsider, of some of the more idiosyncratic elements of living in England.

Here's the first one ...

There are a number of English idiosyncrasies that I've found amusing at best and downright annoying at worst. If I ever write a book about my Antipodean reflections on living in London I'm going to call it The Plastic Bowl in the Sink.

Why? I hear you ask yourself.

Because, I say.

When I first moved into Mark & Nina's place in Brockley I noticed, as I glanced about their kitchen, that they had a plastic bowl in the sink. Initially I wasn't sure what its use was but it seemed to live there permanently. All the washing up was done in said plastic bowl and said plastic bowl remained in the sink. I thought at that point it was a Mark&Nina anomaly so I left it at that. You will appreciate my surprise, upon arriving at Ian's place in Manchester, that he too housed a plastic bowl in the sink. Now at this point my suspicion was raised as it began to dawn on me that this was beyond a coincidence.

I asked Ian why as it seemed unnecessary to me that folk place a plastic bowl in a perfectly fit stainless steel sink.
Ian pondered the question for a moment then brightly replied "It's for when you fill up the sink with warm soapy water only to discover you have a half-full cup of tea that needs emptying..."

But surely you can check for half-full cups of tea before you fill the sink? I reply in my usual lateral way. This draws a blank response, and the plastic bowl in the sink remains a mystery.

I have asked the odd Englishperson for an explanation for it seems this is not just a random phenomenon.

The only response that seemed remotely logical was from Ian's mum. She claims that the stainless steel sink has historically been used to wash clothes in the absence of a laundry and the plastic bowl inserted to separate the wash spaces. This seems logical enough until you find you are asking yourself why don't they just make stainless steel kitchen units with two sinks...

British ingenuity excels in exceptional ways (no, I can't think of an example right now but wait, it'll come to me) but falls down dead in the plastic bowl stakes.

But don't let this worry you - England is still a really nice place.

C x


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