26 December 2015

Bikes On Boxing Day

They play cricket, rugby and football.  They drink tea and like their beer.  They use the metric system and words taken from French with their original spellings.  

What countries am I talking about?  Ireland, New Zealand, Austrailia, South Africa, Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados, Guyana, Nigeria, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales-- and England.

What else do they have in common?  As you've probably discerned, they all speak English and are, or were, part of the United Kingdom.

You've also probably noticed an exception.  That would be the good ol' you-ess-of-ay.  We spell it "color"; they spell it "colour".  (George Bernard Shaw once quipped that England and America are two countries separated by a common language.)  Their meters are  3.2808 feet.  (Shakespeare's was iambic pentameter.)  And while deluded young Yanks play a game in which they gallop terribly against each other's bodies and call it "football", what all of those other countries, with the exception of Canada,  call "football"--soccer to the Yanks--will always be America's sport of the future, as more than one wag put it.

And, oh yeah, most of us in the USA drink coffee and concoctions of chemicals and fake foam they call "beer".  Some drink tea and artisanal or microbrewed beer but are the majority only in certain precincts of Boston, Brooklyn, Portland, San Franciso, Seattle and a few other cities in the US.

And today, the day after Christmas, is the day the after-Christmas sales start.  But in all of those other countries--including Canada--it's Boxing Day.  The holiday is said to have begun centuries ago when wealthy people gave gifts (hence the "box" in "boxing") or money, as well as the day off, for being of service on Christmas Day.  It grew to include tradespeople, artisans and workers receiving said gifts from customers or employers.  Perhaps it could be said that such gifts were the original Christmas bonuses.

And, of course, brick-and-mortar, as well as online, retailers--including bike shops--hold sales.  

On this day, I find myself thinking about the British annd French people who  have been donating bicycles and supplies, as well "wellie" boots, ponchos and other items of clothing to refugees living in the squalid "Jungle Camp" just outside Calais, the French city closest to England.  Somehow I think that what they (some of whom participated in a bicycle ride for the residents) are doing is entirely in the spirit of this day.

(Note:  The article I've linked is followed by some of the most uniformy hateful comments I've ever seen.0


  1. No surprise the hateful comments, given the tone of the article... just another reason i try not to look at the comments section on news items. What's wrong with people?
    Makes me sad... and relieved i don't live in the UK.

  2. Mike..I think the newspaper is the a British version NY Post (our local print version of Faux, I mean Fox, News), on steroids. The newspaper, article and comments are indeed sad.