Monthly Archives: June 2008

Over the Hil

Incredibly, after more than 500 days of campaigning, it looks like the race is over and Barack Obama is the chosen one for the Democratic party. Personally I think it’s a shame to see either one lose, given that the electorate has paid much more attention to this clash of the titans than they probably will to the presidential election itself. Interest-wise, it’s kind of like following the season-ending edge-of-the-seat cliffhanging finale of ‘Lost’ or ‘24’ (or – shudder – even ‘American Idol’) with a four year old episode of ‘When Chihuahuas Attack’.

The process of selecting a figurehead for the party is about three times as long a procedure as the presidential campaign. It’s also in direct contrast to the UK major party system, which sees a new leader chosen in less than two months through the combined vote of elected MPs and the party membership. Barack Obama’s campaign has so far cost more than $130 million, while a leadership campaign in the UK generally costs less than $500,000. I appreciate that this country’s bigger, and the system’s different, but nothing has to stay the same forever folks. As I believe somebody may have said, it’s time for change.

Interestingly, the Obama campaign spent $738 on bagels from Einstein Bros, while the Clinton campaign laid down a mighty $2493 with the same supplier. Clearly when the going gets tough, the tough get bagels.

So now we enter five months of back-and-forth between McCain and Obama as they battle for the right to clear up the mess created by the least popular politician on the world stage in living memory. As soon as the whole affair’s over, it’ll be time to start up the Obama 2012 re-election/’I promise I won’t f**k it up this time’ campaign.

Clearly, I am one of the disenfranchised many (no taxation without representation, my arseass) and so I have no say in what happens on November 4. It’s probably for the good of the nation that I don’t have a vote in any case, as there’s only one issue that I want to hear the candidates’ view on. And since neither of them currently seem willing to announce that they’re going to outlaw peanut butter, I guess I’m going to have to keep on waiting.

Tough on peanut butter, tough on the causes of peanut butter. Unite behind me, America.

The sweetest thing

Sweetness is something towards which your attitude changes the older you get. When I was a kid, I loved being regarded as sweet by my grandparents, especially if it resulted in getting a toffee or a twenty pence piece as a result. Most kids quickly learn to perfect their ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ look, and I was no different in that regard. Although, fortunately, butter actually wouldn’t melt in my mouth. Ahem.

Of course, when you get to the point at which you’re spending half an hour in the bathroom in an attempt to look good enough to impress girls, sweetness is the last thing that you want to be associated with. “You’re very sweet” has always been one of the ultimate female-to-male putdowns, after all. There are two things that you can categorically say about the statement “you’re very sweet” when hearing it from an attractive member of the opposite sex:

1. It will always be followed by a ‘but’ (ie. “you’re very sweet…but I’ve just this second remembered that I am leaving the country for three years. Tomorrow.”)
2. The implicit meaning is “I find our school’s one legged alcoholic caretakerjanitor more attractive than you. And he’s been dead for five years.”

Now I’m a bit older and – erm – more mature, I’m better able to cope with the sweetness tag. The Special One calls me sweet whenever she wants somethingall the time, and I have to say I quite like it. Don’t get me wrong, I still assume that she finds her dead peg-legged alcoholic janitor more attractive than me, but maybe I’ve just come to terms with my position in life.

Sweetness is something you have to get used to very quickly when you move from the UK to America. Largely because you have to accept that all your favourite foodstuffs come with 50% more sugar in them.

I love bread. If bread could have worn a dress and walked up the aisle, I’d be married to a nice piece of focaccia right now. If you told me tomorrow that I could eat nothing but bread (and bread-related products) for the rest of my life, I’d probably be happy. It doesn’t even have to be great bread either. Sure, I love an artisan-produced baguette as much as the next man, but if thick sliced white bread is all you’ve got then it’ll do for me.

But here in America, bread should come with a dental warning, such is the amount of sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) that goes into it. I’ve had doughnuts that taste less sweet than the vast majority of pre-packaged bread that you can buy in supermarkets. I’ve resorted to rye bread to make sure I get my savoury hit, although even that doesn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to a cheese’n’onion crisp sandwich, it has to be said.

It’s baked beans that upset me most though. While you can buy British Heinz baked beans in certain shops, you’ll generally have to part company with a week’s wages to do so. Fortunately, most supermarkets carry baked beans made by Heinz for the domestic market. Called ‘Vegetarian Beans’ (presumably because tins of baked beans often contain sausagesfranks, rather than because Americans assume that everything is a meat product unless otherwise labelled), the beans are the closest thing you can get to their British equivalent. They’re not bad, it has to be said, but it takes a while to get used to what seems to be a whole bottle of maple syrup that’s been added to the ingredients. Sure, the beans are cholesterol-free, but do they really have to be flavoured with treacle toffee?

I wanted beans on toast for lunch – the ultimate student meal-cum-comfort food, as all Brits will readily confirm. But here at Brit Out Of Water Towers, The Youngest and The Eldest stare at me with a look somewhere between pity and quizzical disgust.

After all, in America, beans on toast is practically dessert.