More sweeping generalizations, because painting with a broad brush is always a safe bet.
- Let's start with family composition - are we allowed to talk about this? I feel weird even noticing it, but then Cal mentioned it to me as well, so I feel less dumb. There are many, many interracial families here. It's cool.
- Diversity - I'm not just talking about race. London is, by far, the most diverse place I've ever lived. You can expect to hear a handful of different languages on your walk to the supermarket - German, Russian, French, Spanish, Arabic, and also a variety of English accents. Different foods, shops, people, dress, and my favorite, different hygiene standards! But seriously, I walked past a wedding reception at the Queen's House, where amongst the fascinators, there was a woman dressed in a vibrant African buba and headwrap. The fabric was amazing.
- Go ahead, diss your kids - I like how it's okay to keep kids in their place. Adults actually taking control, hurray! It's not unusual for parents to be very sharp with their children in public. You don't see much coddling or permissiveness. Do as you're told!
- Bread Bread Bread - I thought Americans were carb-crazed, but now I'm thinking we're all on South Beach (wow, that's pretty much a throwback isn't it?) Every cafe, every supermarket - the bread options astound me. Buns, loafs, rolls, pastries, tea cakes, sandwiches, cakes, scones, biscuits, bap, croissants, and on and on. I am not complaining. I am saying, come here and get in on this.
- Transport - it only takes about 15 seconds on the tube or the train to figure out that YOU DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT. Also, they actually wait for people to get off, before the waiting crowd boards. And there are always lots of free copies of the Metro that you can read if you need help avoiding eye contact. It's mostly just tabloid stuff about British people I don't know, but still.
- Candy - I'm still not sure what to think about the candy here. There's quite a bit of the regular stuff that you can get at home - twix, kit kat, snickers, and also some candy shops that sell harder to find stuff from the states. Harder to find would be Red Vines or Hot Tamales. But the hot tamales they sell are different colors of red which confused me at first. And some of it just tastes a bit different. There's an entire range of Cadbury stuff that you would never find in states and a bunch of crunchy /chocolate combo stuff. All in all though, there seems to be a prevalence of milk chocolate. boo! However, at some point I've promised my kids that we will hold a candy taste testing workshop, to make sure we're prepared and knowledgeable on the subject.
But wait, I have to tell you about this candy......
- Kinder Surprise - from the company that brought your Ferrero Rocher and Nutella, chocolate eggs loaded with tiny toys. My girls are obsessed with them. It's kind of like a happy meal toy, but cheaper! You never know what you're going to get (surprise!) but they do sometimes let you know the theme of the egg. (The girls have lots of tiny Barbies and a walrus that comes apart, which created a lot of walrus butt talk. It does not take much to go there though - as anyone who knows my children can attest.) Extra bonus - they are banned in the US!
But you know what's not here? Root Beer. None. Nada. Zip.
- Finally let's talk fa-fa-fa-fashion. Converse are ubiquitous, seriously everywhere, and it makes me never want to wear a pair. Which is okay, cause I'm more of a Vans girl anyway. Also in footwear, all the ladies are sportin' lug soles (I find it hard not to yell, "nice traction!") I'm not into it. Midriffs! Yea, there's bare belly to be seen. Luckily with all the high rise jeans, the muffin tops are minimal. Another thing I keep seeing is black nylons with short shorts, generally denim shorts. It's definitely a thing, and it does not appear to be weather related. Whether it's a hot day or a rainy day, I see this combo. And speaking of denim, let me just say I have seen the most unusual jeans ever here - things I did not know were possible. Think harem denim pants, or bat wing denim apron wrap around. See? You can't even figure that out.
And there was that one guy wearing neon green leopard leggings, but I think he was an anomaly and definitely a European.