The one annoying thing about England is that the English don’t follow their own rules of English here.
Place names have ridiculous pronunciations that don’t sound like they’re spelled.
For example, Bournemouth is pronounced “bon-mirth”.
Salisbury is “souls-bri”.
Reading is “red-ding”.
Worcester is “woo-ster”.
Greenwich is “gren-ich”.
How annoying is that?!
They must all really enjoy having a private laugh when foreigners come here and say all the names wrongly (or, correctly wrongly).
So, I was complaining to Piers about this, telling him how annoying his country was. And all he said was, “It’s our language. We can do whatever we want with it!”
Shortly after we had this conversation, I shattered my iPhone. The next day, he sent me an MSN.
“Hey, let’s go to Southampton this Saturday. They’ve got an Apple Genius Bar there we could have your phone looked at.”
Aside from being excited about that, I was immediately suspicious.
I texted back: “Is Southampton pronounced wrongly, too?”
“Of course not!” he defended, “It’s pronounced “sooth-ham-teen” just like it looks!”
And that was just so insanely ridiculous I almost believed him. It’s England we’re talking about, after all!
But I also remembered Piers is a joker who can’t be taken seriously half the time, so I was rightly suspicious.
It turns out of course he was really joking and it’s just pronounced Southampton. Stupid Brit!
Anyway, to Southampton we went and the Apple Genius Bar we entered.
I had an image in my mind of geeks wearing lab coats behind a pristine white counter, tapping furiously at their shiny Macbooks and sipping strange-coloured liquids out of test tubes.
I was, not surprisingly, wrong.
The Genius Bar is just a plain old counter at one end of a regular-looking Apple Retail Store, manned by geeky-looking dudes dressed in Persian blue t-shirts. (Persian being a shade of blue and not a style.)
I didn’t get my iPhone fixed because it was too expensive. The only option given me was they take my phone and give me a new one, and I pay £139 (S$285).
I think I’ll just use my Blackberry in the meantime and wait for the iPhone 5.
So our 45-minute drive to Southampton turned out to be a bit in vain.
Luckily, I discovered through googling that Southampton is home to the longest surviving stretch of medieval walls in England.
Although I’m sure Piers didn’t consider that lucky, being compelled to follow me around the city to look at more archaic war-torn walls, like we haven’t already seen enough of them in the last month.
Well, it was either look at walls or go shopping. Nothing much else to do in Southampton.
At the end of a row of malls and shops, you can see Bargate, the main entrance to the old walled town of Southampton.
It was so exciting walking towards it, wondering what I would find beyond the majestic stone entrance.
Therefore, it was very disappointing to see a stupid Asian noodle bar plonked right in front of it.
What was the meaning of a dumb noodle stall being set right in front of a grand old medieval gateway?!
Going through the gateway was also a bit blah, because it’s just a small walk through some arches and then you’re standing inside a modernish town that boasts a giant red truck selling raw meat.
You turn around to look back at the gateway from which you had come through and you see a big white truck parked by it, determined to ruin your photo.
Although Southampton didn’t turn out to be quite the medieval city I wish it could have been, I saw enough medieval buildings and crumbly walls to keep me happy.
It did amuse me somewhat to see how the city council had tried to preserve as much old architecture as possible while building modern new ones around the ruins.
It’s like walking into a movie set where members of the design team have been given full rein to build whatever the hell they felt like building in each of their allocated slots, and they all have different ideas what era is the best.
A few authentic Tudor houses still exist. I find them really cute, with their rough-cut wooden beams showing through the outer walls.
That last one is the Tudor House Museum, which is closed for renovations until the summer. So very annoying because I really want to see it!
There are a few more museums in Southampton that are in business, but they close at 4 pm every day. We went a bit too late, so there was nothing we could do except walk around the town and be happy with just seeing buildings and walls as dusk fell around us.
Another city/town conquered!
I wonder how many more crumbly stone walls in England I can persuade Piers to take me to see before he serves me an eviction notice.