glass of water

Since moving to Los Angeles the word ‘WATER’ has become my largest nemesis. It’s my Achilles heel. It’s my fatal flaw. Basically, it sucks.

Saying ‘Water’ in a British accent is like opening up a deep dark chasm. A chasm you will watch the next five to fifteen minutes of your life crumble into it and be powerless to stop it.

Where is my personal Gandalf to save me in communication chasms? Nowhere.

Maybe here.


(You’re wondering what he would look like without the beard aren’t you? I know. Weird)

Ordering water is one of those things that comes up a lot. Hydrating is you know, important for your health and stuff.

Especially for me because my weak British constitution still hasn’t handled the concept of intense burning sunlight quite yet. I’m a delicate English rose okay. (Ha. Delicate. As if I could swing that. Fine, I’m just a wimp.)

I’m perpetually sweating and dehydrated or shivering from artic AC levels. Growing up with an extremely mild, temperate climate has really damaged me, alright?

Uk weather

I can’t even avoid ordering water because I’ve just never really been into fizzy drinks. (That’s soda, pop, soft drinks. ie fun words. Apparently we decided to be painstakingly descriptive) Something about fun sugary drinks being banned from me as a child actually worked in the way it was meant to. Rare.

It’s silly because every time I ask for water I know I won’t be understood. Yet, I keep persisting. It’s a strange self-torturous escapade. Like BEING A WRITER. AM I RIGHT, YOU GUYS?!? (stand-up gold)

I persist mainly I think because saying one word in American and the rest British feels so weird.

If not for that I would totally say ‘y’all’ all the time because it’s brilliant but I’m just not cool enough.  A continual problem of being British in LA: really wanting to be able to use ‘Dude. No dude, seriously’ as an expression but knowing it’s never EVER going to work for you.

Although, eventually I relent. Because after the seventeenth time of saying ‘Water. A glass of water?’ the person is so compelled by the mystery of what you’re actually saying that you can only disappoint them.  You really have to soften the T and get on with your life.

And let them get on with theirs – knowing that meeting a British person in real life is way less exciting than watching Sherlock.

Or you know, meeting Benedict Cumberbatch. (We know he’s fun at parties)

Benedict Cumberbatch

Really though. Water’s not really something you can describe very successfully without the word ‘Water.’

What are you going to say?

‘It’s like a clear liquid and part of the determining cycle of life.’ Etc. Er, yeah no.

Besides then you would get the song ‘Circle of Life’ stuck in your head anyway and feel compelled to start singing that. Which – on balance is not that solution-orientated an approach on your important brunch meeting that will probably determine your entire career.

Suppressing the continual urge to sing The Lion King is hard enough when you’re not thirsty.

the circle of life

You’re singing now aren’t you? Of course you are. How could you not be. The circle of life is about to START!

On the up-side there’s always extended sessions of napkin-Pictionary or elaborate charades to try and communicate. ANY excuse to force word-games on large groups of strangers! But how many charming, ironic cafes do you want to get banned from in one month?

You can’t very well sit in your own house and write your screenplay – at least at a coffee shop you know that everyone else is also updating their blog instead of fixing that difficult scene with all the confusing emotions in it. You are, right?

And no trust me I haven’t forgotten about the option of  interpretative dance. Because believe me I’ve tried that too. And I’ve even got very specific experience on my side so we know that’s not the problem. That’s right I was ‘The River’ in a Primary (Elementary) school play aged seven.

(I played the triangle. It was haunting.)

And I should make it clear that I’m definitely NOT going to be that person that asks for ‘H2O’ in a restaurant. I mean maybe we all did it when we were 13 and first learning what elements were. But beyond that. Just, no. Have you ever heard that happen? Because I have. It was probably somebody I dated. Recently. I know, kill me.

So in future – if you don’t know what I’m saying. Hand me a glass of water. Even if it’s not what I was saying I’ll adore you forever more. Because it’s a safe bet that at any given moment I’m probably about to pass out from dehydration from spending thirty seconds in the heat.

glass of water2

No dude, seriously.

(No NAT no. Don’t say that. YOU HAVE TO RESIST. You will never be cool enough)

So yeah. You see what I mean.


*What to say if you are completely flabbergasted by something.

ie ‘Mrs Cardigan just took the last biscuit without even asking if the entire room would mind or not. How completely shocking! Now that really takes the biscuit.’

And that LITERALLY does actually take the biscuit. So there we all are then.


I should make it clear I’m not talking about American biscuits that you eat in the South with gravy. (Although they are amazing and probably the most filling thing I’ve ever consumed.)

These are the kind of biscuits I’m talking about:


They come in a packet, you can put them in your tin and store them in the cupboard for the next hundred years if you so choose.

A biscuit is primarily for dunking in your cuppa. The trick is to get the timing right so your biscuit is moist but it’s not disintegrated into complete mush. You really need to get your 10,000 hours dipping practice in before you really ever master it. I’m not sure there’s anything really worse than when half your biscuit falls into your tea.

(Apart from when you drop your whole biscuit, boiling tea splashes everywhere, burns your knee and spills over someone else’s new carpet – which is for some reason always a shade of beige lighter than how you take your tea. So really try and avoid doing that if you can.)

But, let’s get deadly serious here for a minute.

A cautionary note on biscuit tin use: The minute you put biscuits in a tin they are now communal SOCIAL BISCUITS. These are different to regular biscuits. Now you can ONLY eat them when you have a cup of tea.

If you’re eating them straight from the packet generally they are just for you. These are ASOCIAL BISCUITS and you can eat them however you like – cram them in four at a time whilst crying etc.

(But as a general rule you want your asocial biscuits to have chocolate or caramel on them because otherwise literally what’s the point you might as well binge-inhale sawdust.)

Tin biscuits exist as a socially acceptable way to engage in an excessive group-snack gossip.

You must offer them to guests when you offer a cup of tea and then proceed to eat as many as you want and then when they’re all gone you can be like:

‘Oh dear my biscuit tin is empty – what will I offer my guests?’ Then you buy more.

When offered a biscuit tin you want to be sure to make the right choice with only an acceptable amount of dithering. (I am continually guilty of biscuit-dithering.)

So I present to you – the ultimate guide for getting into the high-stakes world of biscuit tin politics. Picking the wrong one can be catastrophic.




This is probably my spirit biscuit. If there are any left by the time the tin gets round to you – grab immediately. Especially if I am there. I say this as a courtesy because when we’re in the room you’re on your own.

A very popular option despite not actually being alcoholic – and in fact the main social crossover biscuit. You can eat these whenever. Scientifically proven as the perfect size to eat four at a time and the chocalatey ‘sandwich-filler’ bit inside is designed to melt at exactly the right ratio in tea.  But you actually won’t be able to stop eating them forever. Until you move to Los Angeles and you discover what a Nilla wafer is.



Choose if you want to stay ultra classic. They come plain, (THE WORST) chocolate (THE BEST) or chocolate and caramel (THE BEST EVER.) You digest them the same way as other biscuits but you just end up thinking about it slightly more.



These are like vanilla versions of bourbons. You can’t see it here- but they follow a similar sandwich structure.Very popular choice. They don’t really taste like custard or like cream, but if you imagine something exactly in the middle of those two tastes and then add a third part neutral – then that is exactly what they taste like. It’s really good. Trust me.



You can’t go wrong with this choice. But these are usually only out on special occasions ie Your birthday when you were six. And they won’t be around for long. And you won’t be around for long after you’ve eaten some – because you will be PARTYING! ie zooming around hyped up on chemicals and sugar. Which will be THE BEST and then quite soon after THE WORST. Highly recommended.



These are snobby biscuits that come with specific instructions. They feel fairly demanding and narrow-minded to me – like they wouldn’t be fun at parties. They are the plainest biscuits you have ever encountered and you should handle with caution. Heed the name. Eaten dry they will give you a bad case of cactus mouth.



Those are raisons not chocolate chips. ABORT, ABORT.



Biscuits specifically for hob-nobbing. Which is causal chit-chat. Not what you were thinking a minute ago is it? But I’m sure they’d be good in any situation. They work across a large range of activities. Though I will say that you really have to chew these. Like, every mouthful your jaw is going to get in some serious cardio. So in reality they do make polite, casual chit-chat a bit more challenging. But hey, why not live on the edge.



Really not a lot to say about them except they are going to dissolve in your tea at lightning fast speed and without tea they’re fairly pointless. They’re the background filler of the tin. If you get one it’s fine. If you don’t it’s fine and you might feel a bit cheated but then when you have one you’ll remember that you weren’t. You’re going to end up scooping out major biscuit mush out of cups when you do the washing up and was it really all worth it? Where has your life gone? Exactly. They’re comforting and they have a picture of a cow on them to assure you they are wholesome which is sort of fine. Mostly they’re just fine.



Biscuits that are very quintessentially British in that they have a casually defeatist attitude towards describing themselves. ‘Please don’t expect me to be fantastic. I’m just sort of nice.’  It’s kind of like onomatopoeia for biscuits. Sort of. Is it? Not really. But here comes the sad predictable irony of life – they aren’t really THAT nice. A bit like Ferrero Rocher. Doesn’t live up to the hype. When it actually comes down to it a bit too saw-dusty. For me the word ‘nice’ has become  onomatopoeic for the feeling of mild disappointment.  Oh, you think I’m ‘nice’? That’s the best adjective you have for blanket-coating my entire personality?  Well. Thank-you so much for comparing me to a slightly dissatisfying biscuit. 



Pretty fun to say. If someone calls you a ‘Jammie Dodger’ it means you’re a bit of a sly, fun one who gets out of trouble. They’re the young celebs of the snack-world. Jammie Dodger biscuits are slick and do advertising the right way. They do have jam in them, and you are going to love it. You can’t accuse them of  not living up to the hype.  In fact this is really much closer to biscuit onomatopoeia. Wait. What? Or is that just accurate description of a biscuit in picture form. Yes it is, I’m getting confused again. Jam doesn’t make a noise. (Sadly) 



I couldn’t possibly not include fig rolls. They are big contenders in the tin. But as I write this – it’s very unclear to me not just to whether it’s a biscuit, but if it is anything at all and just defies categorization. But then you couldn’t really describe it as a roll either. This is opening up a much larger debate. This deserves a whole entry to itself. If not – a whole website. In fact, I find myself beginning to question my whole existence.

Afterthought: I think a fig roll is definitely my spirit biscuit.


Crumpets are magnificent. Here are two crumpets:


Have an eye-feast on that!

You see all those holes on top? That’s where all that butter will melt into in all of thirty seconds. So, uh oh, you spread on more and more. But wait a minute, you can’t be in the possession of the dish for longer than one knifeful, you have to pass it. But you also need to get another layer in. So you say ‘Please can you pass the butter again Lord Loverduck’ along with everyone else seated at the table (except Auntie Majorie. She wants the magarine, naturally. Leave her to her own business. It won’t taste the same.)  Then everyone tries to give up the butter dish to someone else in a sort of breakfast-related rugby scrum of politeness until no one takes it. Then you end up actually passing it to yourself because now it’s only just out of reach anyway and do you really mind if you put your entire sleeve in the jam, and so then you put on more.

This is a Rugby scrum:

rugby scrum

You just did that but with condiments.

Disclaimer: I only have a pretty basic knowledge of the complete rules of the game. But I did used to live in Cardiff, which is the capitol of Rugby-related binge drinking (and Wales.)  So I’ve certainly drunk to Rugby, which I think counts. And served drunks at Rugby matches (Drinks! Freudian slip. Obviously.)

And honestly I couldn’t think of a more accurate comparison to group crumpet eating. It is shockingly similar.

Now, you need to get the best goal you can–a try – in crumpet rugby. And it’s no small feat. Because here’s the top secret crumpet intel. They are a holding container for butter. This is the excuse you’ve been waiting for to essentially DRINK melted butter. I know.

This is why crumpets stay at the top of the league tables.

But you’ve got to get the butter fast because if your crumpet gets cold your butter will just lie there on top in a clump and there will be VISIBLE SIGNS OF YOUR BUTTERY SHAME before you bite it. You will see the reality of how much butter you’re about to eat and the game will be up. Your best bet is to go straight to the jam and move on with your life. A cold crumpet isn’t worth writing home about. Or to anyone about. Moving on quickly.

After you bite into it you’re home free. Your crumpet is hot property. Now you’re just dealing with ‘Oh my goodness I think I somehow accidentally put too much butter on this how foolish of me’ as the space from chin to neck becomes a waterfall of cholesterol. But who’s looking at your neck?! (Apart from you, creepy) You’re in the clear. Annnnnd that is a try in Crumpet Rugby my friend.

The other meaning of crumpet.  Quite fun. Get ready.  Although Creepy over there will enjoy it to so watch out. ‘A bit of a crumpet’ means a bit of a fittie. ie ‘Look at that hot piece of crumpet.’ It makes sense because like I said, crumpets need to be hot.

To illustrate my point – quite literally – take a look at this article about a picture of Pippa Middleton’s bottom made entirely out of crumpets:

Here’s the thing. You’re looking at 15,0000 cold crumpets. Almost unthinkable.

And yet, I would venture to say that most people would love to TRY and BUTTER her up.

And that’s my own personal try in Crumpet Rugby related puns. Yes! What is there left to achieve in life?


So in the UK ‘Where’s the loo?’ is perfectly acceptable polite stranger conversation. As is, ‘Where’s the toilet?’


Now, when I first arrived in LA I was smart enough to cotton on quickly that ‘loo’ wasn’t going to work out too well for me. It doesn’t usually get you a response too quickly amidst all the belly laughs and general group amusement. Which isn’t the best, especially when you do actually really need to find the loo, not merely laugh about the idiosyncracies of language.

Which of course, I am more than happy to do at times when I’m not about to wee myself.

So naturally I went with ‘toilet.’ A strong choice, I thought. I mean, that’s perfectly acceptable. After all we all know what a toilet is and what it’s for. Clear communication all round. Fantastic.

Apparently not. When I said ‘toilet,’ people looked at me as if to say ‘Woah there! STOP! That is TOO MUCH information about where you are going and what you will be doing there. Disgusting.’

Here, you say ‘restroom’ or ‘bathroom.’ Now, restroom is very nice and pleasant. But really, it isn’t that descriptive or at all accurate.

I only wish there were rooms with giant big comfy beds of varying mattress strength to suit all tastes that we could all nip over to for a quick forty winks a few times a day. Maybe with coin-operated electric blanket machines. And complimentary eye-creams if you’re at a posh one. Then you’d be able to say, quite truthfully, ‘Oh don’t mind me I’m just popping to the rest-room.’

‘Oh me too! I’ll come and tuck you in’

And I mean really, that would be lovely. But is that the reality? No. You’re not going to rest. You’re going to use the toilet. We all know that.

So I could never really get ‘restroom’  to roll off the tongue. Even-though I do enjoy the concept, it doesn’t always arrive in my mouth when most needed.

So I’m left with bathroom. Which again, similar problems. Is there a bath there? No. A bathroom is in your house. If you asked a British person where the bathroom is they’d assume you were inviting yourself over to their house, possibly for a shower. Which might not always be exactly what you’re after.

I’ve had to do cognitive exercises to think of a ‘bathroom’ as the larger bathroom belonging to the proverbial public space in order to make the right mental leap. This was a different kind of toilet-training. It’s taken serious dedication just to get the casual use of the word ‘bathroom’ in social situations totally down.

So brilliant. All well and good. I’m blending it. People don’t think I’m gross. I can find the toilet without having to say toilet. Gold star me.

Then, last summer, approx a year after arriving to LA I went back to the UK for a visit. I was at a classy Edinburgh lunch spot with my known-each-other-since birth BFF. We’re treating ourselves because after all it’s been a while. We’re probably the loudest people that have ever eaten there, and you’d be hard-pressed to find our apple crumble portions with a microscope, but the Scottish waiter is pretty fit. Life is good.

So afterwards I pop on over to our new waiter friend and I’m like:

‘Excuse me, but where’s the bath-toilet?’

Because apparently that’s when my brain exploded.

‘Bathroom’ – might have got away with or at least could have explained quickly in a nonchalant manner. ‘Just flew in from LA. You know how it is. I meant the toilet, of course. I didn’t mean I was coming over to yours for a shower. Unless you– No?’ You know. Something casual like that.

‘Toilet-room.’ Bit weird but at least pretty much dead on accurate. Your basic, leave quickly afterwards.

But ‘bath-toilet?’ I mean, what on earth is a bath-toilet? Wherever your mind is going, it’s not good is it.

So it turns out that he didn’t know where the bath-toilet was. He explained they only had regular toilets.


(Or how Kate Middleton has affected my printing expenditure since I moved to LA)

People here always tell me I sound classy. Or that they’ve suddenly jumped into a BBC documentary. Or Downton Abby. For a few glorious seconds people hear my accent and they think I might be sophisticated – that I might be the type to nibble on crumpets with the Duchess of Pirouettes and the Earl of Please-pass-the-butter-again without knocking over the teapot. (Yes.That was the exact wording of their thoughts.)Then they know me for a few more. Seconds, that is. Because how exactly are you meant to eat egg and soldiers without throwing most of it down your front? I didn’t classically train in ballet.

When the bar is set to someone who is sincerely rocking THIS hat:


you might as well just hand cards out that say ‘I will disappoint you.’

(I would probably drop them all on the floor.) Can you imagine – someone coming to help you reorganise your disappointment pre-warning cards? ‘Oh, terribly sorry I would give you one but I think they’ve become a bit redundant’ *Nervous Laughter* No response. *Hand self a card*

So cheers Kate. Nice one.  It’s fine if you are a MAGICAL SWAN-BEING NOT OF THIS EARTH or you know, married to a Prince.



I just tried to do a Queen-wave and poked myself in the eye. I’ll go print some more cards.

If you read the small print on my cards it will warn you that when I get over-excited in meetings talking about something I inadvertently fling my pen across the room. So sorry if my pen hits you in the face. It’s only because I’m having a fantastic time with you.

People in the UK were pretty disconcerted with my over-excited hand-talking. So you can imagine the reaction I get here when I’m meant to be at the Shakespeare opera with my Butler and Benedict Cumberbatch quibbling over whether or not it’s meant to rain later on.

Crowd using umbrellas at Queen's diamond jubilee, 5 June 2012

(It will)

So okay the thing about talking about the weather is true. And the stuff about the actual weather. And so I also love Shakespeare. But I don’t have a butler, okay!

Apart from my imagination Butler who I can blame things on. ‘Oh Cuthbert you’ve spilt the tea all over me again! You shouldn’t do your penguin walk when you’re carrying hot liquids – what have I told you? You’re such a disappointment.'(I’m not that harsh. I even let him wear cravats on the weekends.)


And while we’re on the subject. Of tea. Keep up. Tea trumps a cravat segue. Just. It’s my favourite and most preferred British person stereotype. It’s about the single BEST and truly magical thing across the entirety of existence, and you know, somewhat accurate.

So when you meet me go ahead and think TEA and DISAPPOINTMENT and cravats if you want, but just not sophistication.

In the meantime, I’m forwarding Kate my printing expenses.