On Remembrance Day, Thoughts on Living in London

Lisa writes: Living in London for twelve years was an unforgettable time in my life and, looking back, there are many things I miss. Today, on Remembrance Day, my thoughts take me there.

Remembrance Day, poppies, living in London, Kate Middleton, Prince William

1. The richness of the English language.

I have no facility with foreign languages yet living in the UK I felt as though I had relearned my own. Every day someone used a word I had to think about, or used a word I knew in an entirely unfamiliar context. Every day my vocabulary and use of the language were enriched in unexpected ways.

2. Living in London always holds surprises.

Turn a corner and there is a tiny church, so small and perfect that if you were in a rush you would never see it. Look straight ahead and you could miss a row of mews houses tucked away down a narrow alley way. I could walk down the same street over and over and each time find something new.

living in London

 3. I never knew the back story.

I lived in a world where people made constant reference to cultural touchstones that I did not posses. It was like being a foreigner, but not a foreigner, like being on the inside of the jokes, about half the time. Struggling with cultural context is always eye-opening.

Covent Garden soaps, London

4. Brits make fun of themselves.

They are masters at self-deprecation and the understated compliment, fine arts that I came to truly appreciate.

5. National elections are short.

British elections last for a month, or maybe two, and then they are over and done and the topic is not revisited for many years. I feel in this, Americans have much to learn.

6. School uniforms are perfect.

Nothing is easier for a mom than school uniforms and since every kid in the country wears them…no discussion, no complaints. And my sons looked adorable in their jackets and ties.

7. I miss the poppies on Remembrance Day.

The difference between America and England is that Americans think 100 years is a long time, while the English think 100 miles is a long way. I read this Earle Hitchner quote shortly after arriving in Britain and it stayed with me every day. Almost 100 years after the Armistice Britains wear poppies because 1918 was not ancient history, 1066 was. History In Britain is a living thing and I am reminded of that every November 11, RemembranceDay.

Tower of London by Ian Capper

Photo Credit: Ian Vogler, Daily Mirror: High Street Kensington Underground Station 7th Nov 2013 The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Join RAF personnel to sell Poppies today ahead of remembrance Sunday.

Photo Credit: Ian Capper, Tower of London, copyright by Creative Commons.

 

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