Wednesday, September 20, 2006

English Air Conditioning Sucks, Part Deux

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.


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 CONDITIONING.

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. 


screaminremo303 said...

I have the feeling we're about to find out about the quality of English toilet paper.

ladeeoftheworld said...

I am with you on this matter.  What's with third world England?  I am miserable without cool dry air.  Did you eat baked beans for breakfast like the natives?

ksquester said...

I need to know all of this information as I will be going to London in JAN.......probably the heat will still be on, as in radiator heat!  Shall I bring my own toilet paper.  Please advise.   Anne

ber144 said...

A couple of years ago I found myself in London in August and made the mistake of going for a spin on the London Eye.  Ugh.  Forty-five minutes in an encapsulated bubble with no ventilation except a small vent in the ceiling.  I'd have saved myself the airfare by heading down to Jewel, climbing into the rotisserie chicken display and slapping some postcards on the glass.  When the ride was over, I went to the nearest information booth and suggested that they change the name to the London Broil.  I may have told this story before, sorry.  I still love London though.

suzypwr said...

I haven't been, but I had neighbors who were from London. They sure used the a/c just fine - their house was arctic! However, our weather just totally confused them. I guess it doesn't have much range in London. They were freaked out by temps over 80 and below 30. The snow fascinated them, each time they took a foot of it off the driveway. I do think, though, that they missed our toilets when they went back!