Saturday, 20 November 2021

An American Holiday


Welcome to a cloudy but mild and dry South Manchester on day 123 since Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This week my friends from across the pond are celebrating Thanksgiving, an annual holiday where families get together and eat lots of turkey. 

We don’t celebrate it here but we know all about it because we see it in a plethora of American TV shows.

And today’s Sunday Stealing questions are all about Thanksgiving, which is a strange thing for me as a British citizen to deal with. But, in the spirit of harmony, and because I like America and Canada, I shall partake. I have always had a great time when I have stepped over the big pond and I have yet to meet an American or Canadian that I haven’t enjoyed the company of. 

From the person in Florida who asked me “Why do all British singers sing in an American accent?” to the woman in Cleveland who asked me “Wow! You’re from England – have you ever met the Queen?” I have enjoyed discussing our cultural (but similar) differences. From explaining the rules of cricket to trying to explain why Monty Python is so funny, I have always had fun with our somewhat surreal conversations.

Before I dive in, I shall just say this: I hope you enjoy your holidays, guys and rest easy, knowing that I will be hard at work trying to tame wild computers in Manchester while you are eating turkey and having fun.

Questions, as usual, from Sunday Stealing

1. What teacher are you most thankful for and why?  What did you learn from him or her?

I have recently been writing a few memoirs and by lucky chance, I am currently looking at and re-examining my school life. I went to a really good school that required passing an exam to get into and the teachers and kids were all very clever – which was a shock to the system for me because up until then I was always top of the class. I found myself competing with some really intelligent boys and the teachers were totally dedicated to the academic success of their pupils as well has maintaining the excellent reputation of the school.

I didn’t really grasp that at the time but in retrospect it was obvious. Each and every teacher wanted each and every pupil to be the best that they could. And for me, being an obnoxious little git for about three of those years as a rebellious teenager, I pushed them to the limit of their patience sometimes.

The good news is that they stuck by me and when my rebellious phase had faded as I approached 17 years of age, I really pushed myself to succeed. 

There were two teachers in particularly who I thought were brilliant. My maths teacher, Mr P who guided me through O-Level, A/O-Level and A-Level maths, helping me to achieve the top grade required for university, and Mr N, my chemistry teacher and mentor who guided me to choose the course I chose (even though it wasn’t chemistry) and really helped me with A-Level chemistry which initially I struggled with.

Thanks guys.

2. What’s the season you’re most thankful for, and what’s your favourite part of each season?

I love the summer. In the UK, summer is amazing (though we do get a fair amount of rain) and the temperature is always very pleasant. The rain helps keep the UK the fabled green and pleasant land. That said, I usually travel to Europe in the summer too. I love Europe and it is a bit warmer than the UK the further south you go.

Favourite parts of each season?

Spring – After winter, it is wonderful to see foliage returning to its post-winter colour and splendour and, as the weather improves and the days get longer, I find my mood improving every day.

Summer – As I said above, I love the warm long days and the travel. It’s a pleasure to be outside on a long hot summer day.

Autumn – The colour of the leaves as they turn and start to fall. It is usually still pleasant weather during Autumn, particularly at the beginning.

Winter – Winter is my least favourite season, but the one thing I do enjoy is Christmas and New Year because, although it is cold, everyone is happy and in the mood to party with friends and family.

3. What electronic device are you most grateful for, and what does it add to your life?

That’s easy – my smartphone. I rarely use it as an actual phone to be honest but it has so many uses that even if I list them here and now, it wouldn’t do the device justice. Here are just a few things I use it for:

Learning Spanish, counting steps, keeping a calendar, sending messages, banking, watching videos, listening to music, emails, taking photos, keeping in touch with friends, watching TV when out and about, internet, weather, compass, satnav, time, fitness, books

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

4. What musician or type of music are you most thankful for?

Progressive rock and progressive metal. I love so many artists that I can’t list them all but I will single out three of my current favourites:

Steven Wilson:

Devin Townsend:

Mariusz Duda (Riverside):

5. What are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?

I look for the positive in everything life throws at me – even work (which I am completely tired of). In a similar way, there is always something of beauty if you do something simple, like go for a walk. Personally though, I like to see something that makes me laugh or at least smile. There is nothing more beautiful than laughter.

That's one of the reasons that Monty Python is funny.

6. What philanthropic cause or organization do you feel thankful for?

Every single on of them. There are far too many to list here.

7. What foods are you most thankful for?

Cheese. I can’t imagine a world without cheese. I am looking forward to a ham and cheese sandwich for my lunch after I have finished writing this post.

8. What local store or restaurant are you most grateful for?  How does it contribute to your quality of life?

Again, it is difficult to single out a particular local shop or restaurant. I am quite lucky to live in an area where there are several good places within a short walking distance.

I will mention our local Indian restaurant though. I haven’t been there for a while and I think I am overdue a meal there.

9. What book are you most grateful for, and why?

I can’t honestly say, with my hand on my heart that I am grateful for a book. I enjoy a good novel and I have enjoyed most of them. When I read a novel I enter wholly into the universe created by the story and that provides a form of escapism from normality – a bit like taking a holiday in your own imagination. It’s good for the mind.

10. What act of kindness has made the greatest difference in your life?

Again there are two many to single out one particular act of kindness. 

11. What challenging experience has ended up changing your life for the better?

I’m a fairly positive person and when I see or experience a problem that may seem difficult to overcome, I will usually try to have a go at taking it on. When I was younger, I was painfully shy and decided when I went to university that I was going to declare war on what was effectively social anxiety. It is a conflict that I hurled myself into and I forced myself to explode out of my comfort zone. It was difficult at first and after a few years, I feel that I conquered it. 

Fast forward a couple of decades and shyness is still with me but I manage it very well and when people get to know me they are stunned when I admit to being shy. I guess that means I have won the war.

12. What vacation are you most grateful for?

I love travel and there are many places that I have thoroughly enjoyed. The most recent big holiday that left its mark on me has to be my trip to Japan about eight years ago. I enjoyed the experience so much that I am desperate to get back there. Sadly, it won’t happen for a few years yet as our next jaunt to the Far East will take us to Malaysia – but after that I will be pushing for a return trip to Japan.

13. Name three days in your life that you feel especially grateful for.

The day I made my entrance into the world way back in the early 1960’s in Walsall of course. 

The day I graduated from Liverpool University. I was sad to leave the city, having spent three wonderful years there, but it was an amazing experience and I had to move on.

The day that Mrs PM declared her feelings for me in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. I have never looked back. That was 23 years ago.

There are many more than three.

14. What product do you use on a daily basis that you most appreciate?

Again the list of products I use on a daily basis is vast and it is difficult to pinpoint one particular item.

Perhaps I shall say clothing because that means that I won’t scare the whole of Manchester by walking around naked (sorry for the terrible image this will conjure up – I’ve seen myself and it isn’t pleasant).

15. What, from this year, do you feel most grateful for?

I am grateful that almost all Covid-19 restrictions have gone and that I have been able to return to something like normality – at least for now. 

Those Covid-19 vaccinations and then people behind them are heroes.


Elephant's Child said...

Of course we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia either. It is a holiday which makes a great deal of sense to me. Gratitude is a gift which keeps giving. Some day I would like to experience your summer. It is my least favourite season here.

Bev Sykes said...

I loved the comment about British singers singing with an American accent. I've always wondered why so many American actors speak with a British accent in movies!

Me, Myself, and I said...

I love your posts PM. You really have a "voice" that I can hear when you write. I may have to read the China Chronicles one of these days. I like what you said about books...I'm the same way. I just fall into the world the author creates. I guess that's why a really great worldbuilder is my favorite kind of author.

songbird's crazy world said...

Monty Python fan here, I had the pleasure of meeting John Cleese after seeing him perform here in NYC. You don’t have to explain it to me,

Kwizgiver said...

Monty Python is so funny. I just adore that humor.

Lori said...

Cheese! What a great choice! I love cheese too. Loved your answers. Have a nice day!

CountryDew said...

The vaccinations were a godsend, and we were fortunate that the medical community had been working on vaccines for SARS for so long that they were able to pivot and deal with Covid so quickly. Many Americans don't understand that this technology has been available for some time. I enjoyed reading your answers. We don't have Boxing Day, perhaps that makes up for the loss of Thanksgiving turkey!

Lisa said...

I've enjoyed reading everyone's answers this week. So many of us can't imagine life without our smart phones.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

Summer here is pleasant - if it isn't raining - and it does rain a fair amount in summer. This is why we tend to fly south for the summer holidays.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bev,

To be honest, I think he may actually be right. As soon as he asked me, I simply didn't know how to reply.

I think British people make good bad guys in movies - unless you are James Bond.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Me,Myself and I,

The China Chronicles is very rough and ready and could do with a rewrite (it was put together 22 years ago - wow - I feel old).




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Songbird,

I think you either get it or you don't. There are people here who don't like Python - but then again they like rubbsih comedy IMHO.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kwizgiver,

It is a weird but very clever humour.

I love it.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lori,

I think I was a mouse in a previous life.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi CD,

Yes - Boxing Day - I think it is uniquely British (and perhaps Australian) - I'll have to check up on that.

It's a nice extra Xmas Day to have.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lisa,

How life has changed since those devices were created.