Clicking and Commercials

I was very quickly corrected yesterday when during a performance assessment I said “snapping” instead of “clicking.”  To keep time and demonstrate rhythmic understanding of the songs we were performing, we were supposed to snap our fingers while singing.  When I said “snapping,” however, fifteen pairs of eyes looked at me like I had three heads.  After a few awkward seconds and a couple mutters of “what…?” my professor finally said, “Oh, you mean clicking.”  Therefore, today’s addition to the list is:

33.) snapping- clicking

The big news in British pop culture this week is the release of the John Lewis Christmas advert, apparently a much-anticipated moment in the UK around Christmastime.  There is really no equivalent to this commercial in the U.S.; the closest I can think to equate are perhaps the Hess truck or USPS commercials.  It’s quite a touching advert:

Judging by the response to the commercial, I’d say it was a success. Good thing, too; the advert would’ve been an anticlimactic disappointment following the enormous hype preceding its release.  Everyone anticipated an emotional response to the John Lewis commercial, and it seems they were right:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11214534/Is-this-the-best-John-Lewis-Christmas-advert-yet.html

Of course, one of my all-time favorite Christmas commercials is this incredibly simple, but nevertheless adorable, Hershey’s ad:

It’s apparently also the longest-running Hershey’s commercial, having been aired every year since 1989.  Perhaps it’s the continuity of the commercial that explains its appeal.  All I know is that it’s not officially Christmastime until I see the Hershey bells on TV.  Anyway, I must admit that I’ve been really impressed by the British Christmas commercials I’ve seen.  Most Brits and Americans agree that American TV and movies are the best in entertainment worldwide.  However, when it comes to Christmas commercials, they might just have us beat.  Here’s a few more of my favorites I’ve seen this year:

And then, of course, this happened:

Now who could’ve predicted that “Let It Go” would be used in at least one Christmas commercial?

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British Keyboards

Today I went to the library to do some work for class.  I was accessing my email address when I noticed that I had typed “”gmail.com” instead of “@gmail.com.”  I retyped it, and again ” showed up in place of @.  I looked down at the keyboard and noticed the most peculiar thing: that the quotation symbol was above the number 2 instead of the symbol for “at.”  For you Americans reading this, here’s a visual:

british keyboard

If you click on the image, you’ll notice the subtle (but bothersome when you’re trying to type quickly) differences between our American keyboards and the keyboards most computers here have.  It seems rather strange that two English-speaking countries have different keyboards.  Who knew?

Also, British words of the day and today’s addition to The List:

29.) sneakers- trainers

30.) French fries- chips

31.) flashlight-torch

32.) eraser- rubber

More “Britishisms”

In theory, it takes 21 days to form a habit.  If this is the case, then it’s safe to say that I’ve solidly programmed myself to look right before left when crossing the street.  I’ve lived my whole life looking left before right, and now I’ve noticed that I look right before left without giving it a second thought.  Yes, the famous “Brits drive on the wrong side of the road” issue has become the new normal for me.  I only hope that when I get back to the States that I remember to drive on the “right” side of the road… see what I did there?

I did a little research into why this is, and I found the following information on http://www.2pass.co.uk/goodluck.htm#.VD6UAPldX9Y:

“Up to the late 1700’s, everybody travelled on the left side of the road because it’s the sensible option for feudal, violent societies of mostly right-handed people. Jousting knights with their lances under their right arm naturally passed on each other’s right, and if you passed a stranger on the road you walked on the left to ensure that your protective sword arm was between yourself and him. Revolutionary France, however, overturned this practice as part of its sweeping social rethink. A change was carried out all over continental Europe by Napoleon.The reason it changed under Napoleon was because he was left handed; his armies had to march on the right so he could keep his sword arm between him and any opponent. From then on, any part of the world which was at some time part of the British Empire was thus left hand and any part colonised by the French was right hand… The drive-on-the-right policy was adopted by the USA, which was anxious to cast off all remaining links with its British colonial past. Once America drove on the right, left-side driving was ultimately doomed.  If you wanted a good reliable vehicle, you bought American.”

So there you have it.

Also, the traffic lights here turn yellow not only before a red light but also before a green light.  I actually laughed the first time I saw that.  It gives you the option to accelerate gradually, as opposed to the American method of taking off as fast as you can when the light changes from red to green.

Another “Britishism” I’ve noticed, particularly on trips to the grocery store, is the use of “re” at the end of a word, as opposed to “er.”  “Fiber”, for instance is spelled “fibre” here in the UK.  Or “theater” is spelled “theatre.”  It’s a subtle difference, but it’s something you begin to notice all over the place when you become aware of it.

One of my very first memories of London was made upon arriving at Heathrow and meeting up with my cab driver to go to my house.  As he was loading my suitcase into the trunk, I instinctively went to the left side door to sit in the passenger seat.  “No, no,” the driver said to me, “I’m driving.”  I was puzzled for a few seconds before I looked in the window and saw the steering wheel on what I know as the “passenger side.”  I said, “Oh, right, of course,” and looked back at the cab driver.  He was laughing at me.

“London Weather” Has Arrived At Last

Since arriving in London, I’ve been extremely lucky with the weather.  For the first month I was here, I could only recall maybe two rainy days.  For the most part, it was sunny and rather warm.  I was told time and again that this weather was unusual for Britain and that I should expect to see many cloudy, drizzly days ahead.  I came prepared with my rain jacket and “Wellies” (a.k.a. rainboots), but I haven’t had much use for them… until this week.  It seems fall has finally arrived in London, and we’re having a spell of perpetual clouds this week.  Yesterday, it was quite rainy; today was more just cloudy with a light misty drizzle.  If I had 50p for every time someone said to me, “Welcome to Britain,” this week, I’d have made quite a bit of money.  This is the weather Londoners have been anticipating (and, it seems, dreading), but I have to say I don’t mind it right now.  It is, as my voice teacher said, the “quintessential English weather,” and I really feel like I’m in London now.  Needless to say, I’m getting my money’s worth out of my raincoat and my Wellies, which already took a beating last fall/winter during the seemingly endless wet and snowy winter we experienced in New Jersey.

Today I wore a pink sweater, and one of my classmates said to me, “I like your jumper!”  I was incredibly confused for a good five seconds, until she said, “Do you call it a jumper or a sweater in the U.S.?”  So I’m happy to say I’ve added another British word to my vocabulary today:

25.) sweater- jumper

Funny, because the first thing that came to my mind when I heard the term “jumper” was this scene from That 70’s Show:

jumpsuit

… although technically, these are “jumpsuits,” not “jumpers.”