Back in the USA

For the past two weeks, I've been visiting family in England.

What are folks there talking about over the dinner table? Here is an unscientific sample summarizing our evening conversations:

Harry (father-in-law)
America might have its problems, but England is awash in them as well. Whether it's Prime Minister Gordon Brown promoting Islam, or a corrupt MP (Member of Parliament), or the rich getting richer at the expense of the middle class - I am not pleased with the current state of affairs in my homeland. However, I am not concerned about global warming because I don't believe in it. And finally, Obama is going to win.

Richard (husband)
Global warming is going to mess with the ocean currents and turn England into Siberia, and it's your all fault. After all, this is the country where the Industrial Revolution got its start. But you are right about Obama.

Joan (mother-in-law)
It's not our fault, we weren't even around for that Revolution. And by the way, Americans hold their silverware incorrectly. A fork should not be used as a shovel.

Matthew (nephew, and a player on the South England lacrosse team)
Did you bring me my new lacrosse stick (that I got half price thanks to the incredibly weak US dollar?)

Claire (Matthew's girlfriend)
I hear Brittany Spears is pregnant. I've got the last two episodes of "Lost" on tape. I feel so sorry for Brittany. Is Florida anywhere near New York? Brittany is on the front page of our newspapers and magazines at least three times a week. Here's a list of great shops on Oxford Street, but you shouldn't buy much here (thanks to the incredibly weak US dollar.)

Allan (brother-in-law)
177-million pounds. That's how much Manchester United paid for Renaldo. Double that to make it dollars (thanks to the incredibly weak US dollar.) Every kid wants to be a star football player, but that's just not realistic.

Gavin (nephew)
And Renaldo's a jerk too even though girls dig him. How come the Republicans only have one old geezer running for President and the Democrats get to have two candidates? The Brit Music Awards are on. Yes, most of the winners - not to mention host Ozzie Osbourne - are drunk on this live national television program. Funny, huh?

Ben (9-year old friend of family)
I get homework every Wednesday.

Ben (9-year old son)
I get it every night in New York.

Greg (6-year old friend of family)
We didn't do anything in school today except go to the toilet. I said "toilet." Did you hear me? I said "toilet!" Toilet, toilet, toilet.

Martin (Greg's dad)
We are supposed to have a meeting with a school psychologist regarding Greg's inability to stay on task. But there's a long waiting period, the psychologist is very busy. Quite frankly, I'm more concerned about what the psychologist will think about me.

Claire (girlfriend mentioned above - also a teacher)
Our average class size in public schools is 32 children.

Linda (sister-in-law)
You are going to be shocked when you go to Tesco's, grocery prices are skyrocketing in England these days. Thanks for bringing over the jeans (that I got half price thanks to the incredibly weak US dollar.) Did you hear about the latest inquest into Princess Di's death? I still think Di and Dodi were murdered, but Mohamed al-Fayed (Dodi's father and owner of Harrod's) needs to move on with his life. If Bill Clinton was so popular, why is Hilary losing to Obama?

Jemma (niece)
I'd love to go to The Lion King at the Lyceum. I've never heard of Garth Fagan. Thanks for the Abercrombie and Finch (that I got half price thanks to the incredibly weak US dollar.)

Julie (me, shortly after a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon)
A thousand times good night.