Vending Machines

The vending machine at work in England offers 16 items. After months of staring at the US vending machine with its 50 billion items, this seems shockingly sparse. "Is that all?" was my first thought on seeing it again.

I've just realized, though, that the number of items I'd actually consider eating is higher in England. Not just the proportion; the absolute number.

I also notice that the other lane of traffic seems way too close. I've only made one vehicular journey so far, but I've become a nervous passenger. I had to look away as we made our way out of the multi-storey car park. I couldn't believe it was possible to get out of there without hitting another vehicle or some part of the structure.

The first thing that stood out on re-entry was that the characters on license plates are so legible. Great big thick black things; works of beauty to rival the road signs. Certainly better than a scruffy red geriatric scrawling of "California" above too many characters with no break to aid the memory, using a font that's too narrow for its height.

There are no TV channels here. I'd never felt it that way round before. I'd always felt there were too many elsewhere. But now I click through eight (to the nearest power of two) and am back where I started, and it seems weird.

What TV there is seemed mostly to be US-made, when I flicked through. Raymond (who "Everybody Loves" but surely Nobody Finds At All Amusing) was being told off by Debra for drinking from the carton, and I noticed myself thinking "that's my fridge!", when I stopped thinking "Debra's hot".

The periods of my life spent in other European countries never gave me this much chance to see England as a foreigner might.