Early on Friday morning I was getting ready for work when I heard a commotion in the kitchen; our house cat Sammy had somehow managed to pull a bird through a slightly open window. The bird was duly dropped on the bed and as it hadn’t moved I thought Sammy had killed it so I got the shock of my life when as I approached the scene it suddenly flew off! 15 minutes of what must have been pure slapstick ensued as I chased a very excited cat and a very frightened bird around the house. I don’t know whether Sammy, the bird or I made more noise (I cursed a lot) but the bird certainly made the most mess; it was nervous enough to void its bowels several times, including over me! Eventually, with Sammy locked into the bedroom I managed to coax the bird through an open window and it flew away, seemingly unhurt minus a number of feathers and the contents of its stomach.
The eventful start to my Halloween is in many ways a metaphor for life as an expat; it’s easy to be constantly surprised by things when everything is new to you. The other day I mentioned to my wife that it was nearly Bonfire Night and she told me that fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts which came as another surprise. I know that fireworks can be dangerous but with the way that people drive here they should be the least of the authorities concerns! Most of my readers are not from the UK so in case you are not familiar with Bonfire Night it commemorates the failure of the Catholic attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill King James in 1605. Guy Fawkes was discovered guarding a massive stash of gunpowder and promptly tortured. I know that this makes Bonfire Night sound like a sectarian hate ritual (and initially it was) but over the centuries it has become a great family night rather than a chance to get one over on a different church. It usually consists of firework displays and bonfires and is not commercialised like Halloween. I love Bonfire Night, where you can see fireworks in every direction and the air is full of wood smoke. Alas I will have to remember, remember the 5th of November without the aid of pyrotechnics!
Another nice surprise that I had this weekend was our discovery of another British food store in Massachusetts. These stores nearly always have bullshit brands in stock with names like “Posh Totty” and “Jolly Good” with pictures of red buses or cottages on the front to convince Americans that they are indeed legitimately British products. There are usually, however, genuine British food products that I miss from home too and we walked away from this shop with tea, chocolate and shortbread biscuits. This store even had British advent calendars although at the price they charged it would have been cheaper to buy 25 chocolate bars and eat one every day from the 1st to Christmas Day! On the way home we stopped off at a wholesale store called BJ’s (no laughing at the back) and found that they had huge jars of Quality Street for $15. Quality Street (along with Roses) are traditional chocolates to have in the house over Christmas so I was pretty happy with that discovery.
November looks to be a pretty good month; I have my first Thanksgiving to look forward to and I’m excited that Johnny Marr (formerly of the Smiths and one of the greatest guitarists alive) is playing Boston. Have a great weekend everyone!