kate and pansy
think about taking over the world
but instead decide to take another drink
Monday, May 10, 2004

I have been thinking about this for the last few days. And as I was deciding on my perfect drink for the day, the idea just came at me all over again. People always ask me what am I doing here. [In particular, there is a clerk at Tesco's that just thinks I am mad]. So I am going to try to do a top ten list of why I am here.

1. Working conditions. Five weeks paid holiday a year(and growing). An office that shuts down between Christmas and New Year's. Sick leave that doesn't need to accrued. 36 hour work week. Flexi-time. If you are an American reading this, you are probably crying by now. Oh and a non-contributory final salary scheme pension.

2. NHS. I can hear the complaints. And I know the H never would have got his back surgery if we hadn't been in California and workman's comp hadn't picked it up. But I have been here five years. See the doctor regularly. Visited A & E for the broken toe. Had a baby which necessitated 7 nights in the hospital and an emergency c-section. How much have I paid in this time? About £20 for an optional test for genetical deformatities.

3.Trains. Yes I am talking about Northern Ireland Railway. And yes, I am not even on the Bangor line with the nicer of the older trains and who will get the new trains first. I still love my express every morning. I love being by the sea. I love being able to ride during my commute. So much nicer than the 110 at 8 am.

4. Boot the Chemist.

5. Indian Food. I have a friend (from the college days) who once asked me in an Indian Restaurant in Santa Monica what she was doing wrong. She could remember going out for an Indian in England (working on Price of Thieves) and ending up with far too much food and not spending a lotof money. In the Santa Monica place, she couldn't get enough food.


7. Sport. I like British sport so much more. Snooker, cricket, rugby, rowing, I even follow the football a little. Last time I went to a baseball game I took a novel (maybe that doesn't count. I always bring a picnic and a paper to cricket matches but that just seems part of the experience).

8. Politics. Not the local stuff. But I like Labour. I like Tony Blair. I love Gordon Brown. I trust that man with money. I do.

9. The small townness of Northern Ireland. I rarely can make it into Belfast City centre and not run into someone I know. I talk to people on the train. I am convinced there is a BRA mafia running the place, but that is just my conspiracy theory.

10. Proximaty to Europe. As a child, I used to go to Nebraska for my summer holidays. France, Crete, Spain and Italy just seem like so much more fun.

Things I miss:

1. My friends. You know who you are. I miss the sitting out at Vivas and drinking margaritas and wondering whether to order real food while talking about horses and boys. I miss hours at Peet's discussing post-modern feminism and books and boys. I miss trips to theme parks to discuss relgion and husband. And none of you visit.

2.Weather. Oh how I miss those days and days of sunshine. And the heat! I like the odd bit of rain. Just sometimes it appears to last for years.

3. Target. Where do people in Northern Ireland go to buy plastic containers?

4. Thai food. Cheap Thai food for lunch from places that deliver.

5. Cocktails. Yeah, Belfast bars are better these days. I can get a Cosmopolitan most places (though I have had a number of conversations trying to explain what is meant by 'straight up') But I still can't wander into any bar and order a vodka collins. Let alone buy collins mix at Tesco's. It would be my drink of the day. If I didn't have to make the mix from scratch. And I still wait the arrival of the green apple martini on these shores.

6. American television. Of course, it is best to video it and then watch without the ads (why I love the bbc) but I consistently watch CSI, Las Vegas, Frasier, avidly followed Buffy and the H has that Star Trek thing going on...

7. Politics. This is in the Northern Ireland context. I miss elected school boards, elected hospital boards, elected county supervisors who had an awful lot of power. I even miss LA county politics compared to Belfast City politics. And I have yet to understand how student politicians could run UCLA (with a several million dollar budget) while being full-time students, only getting their fees paid [in my day that amounted to about $1200 a year] while maintain a high grade point average and student politicians get to take time off from their degree, get paid a wage and do what?

8. The Film Industry. Of course this is also I miss my job at Universal that may not have had nearly as much vacation time but had the alcohol allowance, the bagels, the groceries, the commute with mel, the t-shirts, the gifts from grateful producers...I also miss having films open early. The multi-screen art house around the corner from my apartment. Salted popcorn as standard in the cinemas. 70mm prints. Sneaks of works in progress. Informed audiences.

9. Fascist anti-smoking legislation. Bring on the ban on smoking in the pub.

10. The progressive aspects of Southern California. By that I mean stuff like all the handicap access, the wonderful recycling, the worries about using too much water and the multi-culturalism. I have fond memories of both the food in Little Tokoyo and that odd little Chinese Restuarant that Phillip Marlowe used to eat in with the booths. I like Little Tokoyo. S swears by the taquitos and burritos at the places out by where she stables her horse in East LA. But it isn't just food! I like the buzz and excitement and the play of different cultures. Always some place to buy your spices. Even a place to buy Irish bacon. The Armenian sub-community. I miss it all. But you did get some amazing natural red hair in this part of the world.

posted at 2:40 AM

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Just like the state of nature, nasty, brutish and short...I was always fond of the nickname 'Craxi'...Sometimes I cook, sometimes I tend bar, sometimes I even knit. Mostly I try not to read the plethora of government publications that cross my desk and write one page summaries.
favorite food: lobster. ben and jerry's ice cream
favorite show: CSI
favorite drink: grey goose vodka (with ice, it doesn't need anything else)
age: far older than I like to admit/contemplate

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