Every time I go across the pond, as they say, my mantra is the same: THE AIR CONDITIONING SUCKS.
I was there in August once and
almost melted like gum on a sidewalk. That time, I had hired a
car to transport me to a meeting in some distant suburb of
London. Stopped in traffic I began to notice that the temperature
in the auto was rising. "Could you turn on the air conditoining,
please?" I asked. "Sorry," the driver answered.
There wasn't any. The car was
brand new and didn't have any air conditioning. Being American, I
handled the moment in a way that could only bring glory to my country
-- YOU PEOPLE ARE NUTS!! I believe were my exact words.
WHADDYA MEAN NO AIR CONDITIONING?
And while I'm complaining [again],
what's with those toilets? You have to be an engineering major to
operate the things. Press too lightly or with too much effort and
they won't flush. As they say in England, ONE has to gage the pressure
of ONE'S hand on the handle, which is on the WRONG SIDE of the toilet,
by the way, to create the proper pressure to make the damn thing flush
with a whoosh, not a wimper. Crap.
So there I was last week in London for my daughter's wedding, having forgotten about their no air
conditioning way of life. Meanwhile everybody who's English is talking about
how wonderful and warm September is this year -- eighty degrees some
days. They're thrilled. I got the feeling most Septembers
are fairly arctic over there. And then I remembered, NO AIR
Theirs isn't a dry heat. In merry old England all temperatures
come with HUMIDITY. In fact, there is no such thing as weather without
humidity over there. Lots of it. And if it isn't humid, it
must be raining.
So yes, our skin always felt slightly, and unpleasantly, damp. In fact,
I'm convinced that the rosy shade of pink that defines the healthy cheeks of most English
children is just mold.
Needless to say, I slept with the windows
wide open [no screens by the way] and a fan on high. Unlike the
English, who sleep wrapped in flannel, no matter what the weather. For them, stifling is a way of life.
Even later in the week, at the very posh country manor in the Cotswolds where we all
convened for the final party of the wedding celebration, there
was NO AIR CONDITIONING.
My beautiful room had twenty foot ceilings with five twelve foot
windows. I kept them all open all the time. I needed air. I also needed
screens, but there's so much humidity the bugs don't fly, they walk.
The bathroom was large enough to land a small plane. With a bathtub as
big as Lake Mchigan. And a shower stall so enormous it had an echo.
Usually a hotel shower hits me about chest level. I have to duck to get
my head under. But the ceilings at the "manor" were so high that the
shower was like standing under a waterfall. I even tried but I couldn't
reach the shower head it was so far up. That meant the water drops
gained speed on the way down and made some real dents when they landed. Giving a whole new meaning to HARD water.
The main room, which made my kingsize bed look like a bathmat, could easily house a family of five.
BUT despite the amenities in my room and throughout the lovely, manicured
grounds -- two heated pools and a fancy spa at my service -- to go with
the plasma TV, a mini bar filled with good wine, champagne, and CHOCOLATE, a wall of thick
terry cloth robes, and a view to die for, there was no, you guessed it,
air conditioning anywhere.
Have I mentioned the lack of air conditioning?
But everything else, from the idyllic setting, to the rack of lamb and
the delicious "squidgy chocolate pudding," along with the many
heartfelt and often hysterical toasts to the bride and groom, helped me
forget the hardships.
Until I went into the ladies' room.