Saturday, June 24, 2006

More Proof That The British Are Better Than We Are

1. Shameless, a a BBC series about a fractured but loving family, headed by a drunk, quixotic deadbeat dad, living in a Manchester council estate. Sort of like Mike Leigh meets Trainspotting meets The Office. The show is based on the creator's own experience growing up in a council estate in the seventies. Thanks to MP for lending me episodes 3 and 4 of season one, which I just watched--season four begins on the BBC this coming January. Hen parties, bad teeth, smoky carpeted pubs, bleached hair, gold necklaces, Fred Perry polo shirts, high ponytails, Robbie Williams songs, hooded sweatshirts, countless cigarettes, shaved heads, raging hormones, stolen toddlers, fake weddings, high (chav) lunacy: I can't get enough.

2. The National Health Service has a 24-hour hotline that provides British citizens with nurses on call to answer medical questions. It's called NHS Direct. Now, the actual experience of using it might actually be like calling up 911 only to be put on hold, but I certainly wish that there was something other than the Internet to turn to when my doctor's office is closed and the emergency room is a bridge too far. But even the NHS Direct website is a model of clarity and thoroughness--as a former fact-checker who's slogged through many a health piece, I wish I'd found it before today. Here, a link to its question and answer section, wherein we are given permission to drink while on (most) antibiotics, and told how to gorge yourself on birth control pills to avoid getting your period on holiday. Our puritan FDA and NIH would do no such thing. Oh, and on the first page of the website there's a headline touting a survey on British sex habits with this tag line: "What have you lot been up to?"

3. This regular feature over at the Guardian's Culture Vulture blog. Every week the paper announces a theme--the sun, fathers, jealousy, fashion, etc.--and asks readers to write in nominating the best songs addressing those themes for a top ten list. There are often songs mentioned that I've never heard of; it sends me taking notes. Also, the guy who writes the column, Dorian Lynskey, is witty, smart about music and everything else, doesn't ghettoize or fetishize the obscure, and, thank goodness, like most British newspaper culture writers, doesn't seem to take himself too seriously. Newspaper writers seem to be allowed to write over there. You'll never find him churning out thought pieces on reggaeton or mash-ups, is what I'm saying. Enjoy.

4. Ok, ok. Proof that the British are just as bad, if not worse, than we are. Just finished watching England play Ecuador, and spotted an anorexic-looking Victoria Beckham in the stands, wearing huge shades and a hairdo that seemed like a wig. She looked like an Olsen twin with a bad fake tan. Chav Princess! Like so: