As you know, I prefer England to America. It will not be surprising for you to learn, then, that I pretty much think the English get things right, and think that most of what one can get in America can be found - perhaps even in a better version - right here. Sometimes, though, even I must admit that that just isn't true. So I've decided to devote tonight's long-overdue entry to
American Stuff I Think They Ought to Have Here
1. Top of the list has to be ruled 5"x8" pads with stiff backing and a paste top.
For some reason, this most convenient of items is not to be found here. I can get a pad with a spiral top (a disaster, as the top gets squashed, or its little end catches on stuff in one's bag), but that's really a steno pad; they even call it that. And not only is it a steno pad, it's a steno pad without a stiff back, so you have to put it on a surface, or do the old "support it with your hand ineffectually" thing, in order to write on it. These American memo pads are just the right size for making lists or taking small notes, and the back is stiff enough to facilitate that. Make them here! You could just call them 127 x 203mm pads.
2. Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Creme. Not only does the name rhyme, but it's the best skin cream I've ever used. It comes in two versions: thick and lotion-y. Each is wonderful,
and you can also use the thick one as a deeply moisturising face cream. Here they have Palmer's Cocoa Butter, which smells like brown sugar and is therefore repellent. It's unnatural to smell like brown sugar! Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Creme smells deliciously like coconut, or cocoa nuts, and it works a treat. Fortunately I brought a jar of the thick stuff with me for the winter, but in the summer I was forced to use a variety of inferior skin lotions. I'm already worried about what I'll do next summer. Tense times, I'm sure you'll agree.
3. PaperMate Stick Pens in fine point. You can get the yellow Bic ones, but those are hexagonal, and the ridges hurt my finger. Why can't you get the nice round stick pens, either those opaque blue or black ones, or the almost-transparent thicker kind? It's a mystery. PaperMate, be great: sort this one out! (see how I made a little rhyme there?)
4. L'Oreal Nice 'n' Easy Hair Dye #111, Natural Medium Auburn. To be fair, this was hard to find in the States, too, but at least I could order it on the net. Here, nothing! Actually, the hair dye section of drugstores/chemists have always thrown
me off. Normally I like the abundance of a good pharmacy, but I always find that section a bit overwhelming. You go in, and there's a dazzling array of hair colour possibilities: who knew there were so many shades of brown? And I do mean so many shades, because every company's colours are different, so that the light brown of Revlon is notably different from the light brown of L'Oreal. And if you use red hair dye the anxiety level is ratcheted up, because the majority of red hair dyes are of the variety that don't even try to look natural: apparently most women prefer to look as if they've spilled a glass of wine on their heads, or dumped some red Rit dye (I bet they don't have that here, either) in with their hair product. So I stand there in the dye aisle trying to sort out the sheep from the goats, and it's all a bit much. But at least in the States I can buy a colour I know, from many years of testing, is the one that works. Here, no such look. I'm gearing myself up to try Garnier Nutrisse Copper Brown, but over the Christmas break, so if it all goes horribly awry no one will be here to see (fortunately, I still have two boxes of Nice 'n' Easy, brought from the States. But, come on - hoarding hair dye? Has it come to this?).
5. Chocolate Double Stuf Oreos. Sainsbury's carries regular Oreos, but apparently not
Double Stuf, and certainly not Chocolate Double Stuf. I see from a bit of a cruise round the net that Oreos were introduced in the UK in May of this year, but there were concerns that their taste would not appeal to the British palate as much as the Bourbon cream biscuit. Now as it happens Bourbon creams are one of my favourite biscuits, and they do resemble the chocolate Oreo: imagine a single stuff Oreo with a drier and less highly sugared biscuit and cream. The best way to eat Bourbon cream is, in fact, much like the best way to eat an Oreo: pop off the top biscuit (although in the case of a Bourbon you have to do this with a bit of tooth levering, as it often sticks, and you risk leaving a chunk of biscuit behind), then scrape off the cream using your teeth, or a finger, or (if desperate) a knife. Eat the bottom biscuit. Eat the cream. I do love Bourbons, and I'm sure that if I lived here for long enough I'd eat them instead of Oreos, but at the moment my palate is American enough to miss the grainy lard sweetness of the Oreo chocolate filling. Woe!
6. Exceptionally cute cats. Don't get me wrong: English cats are cute. They can even be very cute. But the cats I've seen here so far are predominantly what I would call snub-faced, or
moosh-faced: the snout is crowded in, and the face tends to beround rather than slightly elongated. I like a cat with an elegant, slightly sleek face, and I miss that (although what I like best are those slightly square snouts.- but those also give a shape I find lacking in most of the Cantabridgian cats I've seen). Mind, I did see such a cat sitting on my nanny's wall the other day, so there is hope.
Yes! Cat perfection.
(or should I say...
wait for it... purrfection)