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Monday, January 09, 2006


I've noticed something about England in the last few days. They have really nice stuff here.

I've always been a little aware of this-that my English friends had things like really nice cell phones that could work in different countries, when mine barely works in my apartment. (And not really at all back at my family homestead in Philadelphia. When I go there for holidays and I want to use it, I literally have to go stand in the middle of the yard, where I am promptly swarmed by ducks from the creek we live on, because they associate humans in the backyard with getting leftovers and pieces of stale bread. So I have to keep moving slowly to escape from the ducks who trail behind me, while staying in the tiny and ever changing perimeters of signal.)

I bought an incredibly cheap cell phone when I came here a few months ago (£20, or about $34-and that came with £10 of talk time. So the phone itself was a princely £10 or $17). I am annoyed to find that it's about ten times better than the phone I have at home. My phone at home looses its charge after maybe ten hours. This phone? It went TWO MONTHS with no charge, and when I turned it on it was perfectly fine. It's been working for a week now and shows no sign of needing more power. It's like a SUPERPHONE from KRYPTON.

It's one of those phones with no monthly plan, so I just put more money on it whenever I need to. Which I can do from ANYWHERE. The gas station pump. The drug store. The ATM. The big Tesco supermarket. I can go to any of these places and more and say, "Make my phone work, please." And they say, "No problem."

And within about ten seconds, it's done.

Why is nothing this easy at home? If I went into CVS and said, "Make my phone work, please," they would say, "You need a prescription for psychiatric medication which we would be happy to fill." If I did that at the gas station, I think they would pull out a gun.

Oh, but it doesn't end there. There's also the FANCY INTERACTIVE TV. Oh yes. TVs here have interactive screens. So, you want to see a special segment on the meercat problem that you just heard about on the news? Click the red button. Want to just see the weather report? Click the blue button. Want to request a video? Click the green button. Want to get your QVC on? No problem. Your Bedazzler is on its way.

The cable in the London office went funny yesterday, and I was asked to call the cable company to see about getting it fixed. Did they have to send a repairperson? No! They BEAMED A REPAIR SIGNAL and suddenly, it worked.

I live in New York City, which should be the capital of Fancyworld. It is not. New York City cable television is powered, as far as I can tell, by windmill. We have cable boxes that, compared to here, seem to have been made in 17th century France. If someone beamed me a signal, my toaster would probably explode.

So dismiss any notion you have of Jolly Old England being quaint and all that. Oh sure, they lure us here with their Tudor buildings and black cabs, but then they swish around with their fancy phones and cool tvs . . . ugh, there's so much more that I'll get into later.