Strange, funny things in the UK — #2

Due to popular demand, I’m releasing the second part of my UK Funnies list earlier than I’d planned.

Yeah, I know, it’s a bit ironic posting a blog about the UK on Singapore’s National Day. It’s not planned. I’ve just been very busy with my new blog theme and this is the only post I have, written up and ready to publish.

Let’s get on with it, then!


1. Girls wearing next to nothing in winter


I am in awe of British girls (those who love their parties and love looking hot, at least). I always see them outside pubs and clubs, queueing, waiting for friends, or just hanging out.

And they’re always dressed in really sexy numbers – the kind that cause boob slips or ass peeks if the girl so much as sneezes.

Which is fine, as it’s standard party gear. But how they can wear those things outdoors in the middle of freezing sub-zero temperatures beats me senseless with a large cricket bat.

Please, somebody, teach me how to do that!




2. The undecided measurement system


The UK is supposed to be a metric country. They metricated in 1965 and, in 1978, Parliament made it compulsory for relevant industries to adopt the metric system.

Food is labelled in grams, drinks in litres, and rulers measure in centimetres. It’s very official.

So why do road signs still show miles (and cars show mph), and people still order a pint of beer at the bar and then groan about putting on pounds?

Imperial system, go home! I don’t understand you!


What happened to your metric system?


3. Confusion over meals


In Singapore, everyone knows that breakfast is the first meal of the day, lunch is for mid-day and dinner’s at night.

Then we have tea break for the in-between times, and supper before bed-time.

In the UK, the lines are not so clear cut.

Some people do go by what I’m familiar with. But others have their own versions. For example, dinner means lunch, tea means dinner, and supper could mean dinner. It’s all very mind-boggling.


Miss Shey, can we have dinner?


By the way, you can learn more about British meal names here if you’re interested.


4. Can’t find whitening products here


I find it amusing how different cultures place opposing values on the same thing.

For example, in Southeast-Asia, fairness of skin is valued because, in the ancient past, only wealthy people had fair skin since they didn’t have to go out and toil under the hot sun for survival. This value has passed down into our genes so that even today, we generally consider fair-skinned people more attractive.

In Western countries, especially in the UK where the sun is an endangered species, tanned skin is valued because, in the past, only wealthy people could afford to go to exotic holiday locations to enjoy the sun and, as a result, get a healthy tan.

So, in Singapore, people are obsessed with getting fairer. Whitening products dominate beauty shelves. Girls use makeup lighter than their natural skin tone to look fairer (and some end up looking like uncooked dough).

In the UK, people are obsessed with getting tans. The word “whitening” does not exist here. Girls slather fake tan gels and powders all over themselves to look darker (and some end up looking like someone’s smashed a pumpkin in their face).

I find this opposition of values quite funny.

And also lamentable. Because I have to ship my Nivea Whitening Body Lotion from Thailand. (Note: Most whitening products don’t actually make you fairer; it’s just a myth created by the beauty industry. But I use this particular Nivea lotion because it’s the only one in the world that doesn’t make my skin feel greasy or sticky afterwards.)


Whitening vs. tanning


5. Saying “You alright?”

[Suggested by Salie Salleh]


A few months after living with Piers, I started getting annoyed with him because he was always asking me, “You alright?” Like, many times a day.

It seemed very obvious to me that I was all right because I felt and looked alright. We were in the honeymoon period of our relationship so everything was obviously great and brilliant. What could not be alright about me?

Later, I learnt that “You alright?” is the British way of saying, “Hello, how are you?” or even just “Hello.” And when asked it, you’re supposed to answer with, “Yeah, alright?” or along those lines.

But I can’t quite get used to it because “You alright?” means something different to me.

It means, “You look sad/diseased/dead. Are you okay?”

Every time I meet someone and they “you alright” me, my mind reflexively wonders, “What’s wrong with me?” before the thinking part tells me that it’s just a greeting. By which time it’s a bit late to answer back in a polite way because my face has conveyed to my greeter that a catastrophe has struck.

Or the greeter has walked off because he’s gone off to “you alright” someone else.

No wonder I don’t have many friends here.


Meeting and greeting in the UK


We will stop here for today.

I drew lots of multi-panel comics for this one because I couldn’t think of funny single-panel ones. Which means I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of gaming/sleeping time to produce this post, which means you should share it with all your friends tell everyone to read it and write lots of comments! :D

Thank you!

There will be more to come. I’ve got a long list, so come back again!

And Happy National Day to all Singaporeans!


Previous chapter:

Strange, funny things in the UK — #1

Nuffnang UK challenge update

Yes! My infograph was a huge success!

Seven people saw it and took pity on me! :D

They helped me take part in the first Nuffnang UK challenge by answering this question, “If was a film, which would it be and why?”


Lovely tweets from lovely people


Thank you so much! I love all your answers! :)

Honestly, I was expecting only one response. Maybe two, at the most, if I count Piers, lol. Because I’ve noticed that it’s really, really difficult to get people to response to any social media stuff these days cos there’s just too much activity going on everywhere. So I’m very grateful to you peeps!


Well, the second challenge is up!


2nd Nuffnang UK challenge


I wonder where they’re heading with these kinda questions! I feel embarrassed asking them!

But please tweet an answer, anyway!

Closing date is end of Thursday (midnight) GMT!

Thank you sooooooooooo much!


How can I ever repay you?


I’m sorry there is no infographic today. Haha. I’ve been busy working on my blog redesign and drawings!

So maybe I’ll only have one response for this, if I’m lucky.

Will I?

Strange, funny things in the UK — #1

When I came to live in the UK more than two years ago, there were many things I had to adapt to. Some things are relatively easy, such as using a knife and fork for eating everything (even spaghetti).

But some things are not so easy. Some things are strange. And some are amusing. This is the first part of my long list of those things.


1. Saying “trousers” instead of “pants”


I’m not unfamiliar with the word “trousers”. I learnt it in school when I was a kid, since Singapore uses British English. But, thanks to the influence of American media, most Singaporeans say “pants”.

I have always associated the word “trousers” with old men because only my dad used that word when I was growing up (he was schooled as a kid by British teachers when Singapore was still a British colony) and he was the only person in the family to actually wear trousers. So, after more than two years in England, I still have trouble saying “trousers” without thinking old men attire.

Also, I had to learn the hard way that “pants” means “underwear” in the UK.


I don't like wearing pants!


2. People going mad when the sun comes out


Yes, the Brits go apeshit crazy when the sun comes out, understandably so since they have, like, maybe 20 sunny days in a year. But I still get amused and amazed by it.

When the sun is out, everyone goes to the beach, whether it’s a work day or a weekend, morning, afternoon, or night. It’s scary how the beach gets swallowed whole by people in the blink of an eye.

It’s something I can’t relate to because we get too much sun in Singapore so my modus operandi is to avoid it as much as I can.


UK beach comic


3. Signing off with “x”


I was confused at first when I started receiving e-mails and texts that signed off this way:

“Bye! Sue x”

“See you tomorrow! Jane x”

I wondered why everyone’s last name was x.

And then I was told that x means kiss and it’s just a friendly way to sign off. And people use more x’s if they like you a lot or are feeling particularly excited.

I’ve tried to adopt this habit in order not to be rude and have people think that I don’t like them, but I keep forgetting to do it because it’s very strange for me to virtual kiss anyone who is not my partner or close girl friend!


To x or not to x


4. Shops closing at 5 pm


This I find most inconvenient. I am used to shopping up till 10 pm in Singapore. I guess it has to do with labour laws here seeking to protect all residents equally. But I wonder how anyone gets any shopping done when all the shops close the moment they get off work.

It’s worse on Sundays, when supermarkets close at 4 pm so that employees can go home and enjoy some family time. I mean, I feel happy for people in the retail industry, I honestly do. But it’s just difficult to get used to it.

Just last week, on a Sunday evening, I suggested to Piers that we should go to Tesco because I want to buy some frozen fruit to make smoothies.

For the nth time, he looked at me quizzically and said, “Tesco is closed, dear.”

It took me a few seconds to remember (yet again) that he’s right.




5. Cars stopping for me


Now, this is a good thing. The British are a very gracious and polite people and I love that.

When I stop at a road to cross, a car coming my way will (8 out of 10 times) stop to let me cross. And I’m talking about a regular road without a traffic light or zebra crossing.

This is very strange because I grew up in a country where cars are king and pedestrians must bow to them and not look them in the eye. Which I think is fine because Singaporeans get taxed a serious shitload of money to drive cars, so they understandably get very possessive over roads.

So, in England, I feel bad whenever drivers stop for me because I feel that it’s easier for humans to stop than for cars to stop (especially manual cars) and they use up more petrol when they stop and start again.

While their stopping for me makes me feel very warm and appreciative, I just can’t get used to it!


Stopping cars


That’s all for today. I’ll continue with my list when I feel like drawing more cartoons. Drawing is hard work, you know!

In the meantime, if you’re also a foreigner or immigrant here, feel free to share your stories. I will use them in subsequent posts and credit you if they’re not already on my list.