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.


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.