Sunday, 26 October 2008


The last few nights, in between watching BBCiplayer or Channel 5 Demand, I revisited Bill Bryson's travel books. I read his Notes from a Small Island while I was still in the Philippines and when my idea of England was limited to the Tudors, Shakespeare and the unfathomable accent of Dickens. And of course Princess Diana. Now that I have experienced England first hand, and having been reintroduced to George Orwell and Jane Austen, I thought that maybe I could finally 'get' Bryson's humour.

Halfway through the book, my husband wondered why I didn't laugh. Of course it was funny, but the effect on me was not the snorty sort of laugh. I smiled through all the funny bits but a part of me was purely taken aback. I kept on trying to remember how I felt when I read this book while in the Philippines. Was I impressed? Carried away? Did it make me feel like I 'know' Britain? Did it make me understand Scottish accent? What did I do when I encountered the word 'counterpane'? Did I also think that it was part of a window? What was the picture in my head when he talked about 'hot water bottles'? Did I imagine a wine bottle with very hot water in it? Did I understand what MOD was? Did I think it was a fashion magazine?

I told my husband that it just made me think instead, knowing how little my capacity for doing such a thing. And I asked him if he knows what a 'counterpane' is. He doesn't. I also asked my mother-in-law if she knows what it is. She's not sure.
See? That's one good thing about rereading a book. It makes you think!


Ruthi said...

Hi, I'm kinda like you too. I also reready books especially the ones that really struck me. And I agree with you, there would be some books that I cannot relate too well because of our cultural background and orientation. And I am also surprise that there are lots of english words that my American hubby doesn't know in terms of meaning and spelling.

BTW, thanks for telling me that my comment box is not functioning... I was able to fix it now. see you around.

betchai said...

I also don't know what a counterpane is Soy :( I, too, do not get sometimes American humor too, what my students would think funny is not to me, and then, they don't get my humor sometimes too, what I think as funny, they don't :(

Soy said...

Ruthi, English-speaking people don't necessarily know 'all' English words. It sometimes catches us off-guard, doesn't it? :)

Betchai, a counterpane is actually a quilt or a duvet. Strange, isn't it? :)

Francesca said...

Ngek, ganun ba, counterpane? bed foam? Sus!

I love english humor. They are seriuous when they speak, but th hulor is in their words...

Like gordon brown UK Prime minister said about Iceland banks:

"The problem with Iceland is, their banking system is bigger than their country..."
weather in Nice is raining, pouring mad. Its a sad day to all Niçoise, haha. Hindi sanay.

Soy said...

Hi Francesca! England is starting to get wintry as well. It's weird for autumn isn't it?

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