So America is fine, America has all kinds of good stuff. I hate to mention the teeny-tiny areas where it is lacking. Such comments are usually met by (a) the not-travelled with genuine astonishment, and by (b) the travelled with a list of reasons I’m crazy for wanting to live here in the first place.
So don’t get mad, it’s okay. I could’ve lived without the following items, but seeing as I didn’t need to, I’ve chosen to live with them instead. Courtesy of purchases at Sainsburys, Boots and Heathrow, I filled the non-existent gap in my suitcase with the following:
4 packets of Angel Delight (butterscotch flavour)
This is like American pudding except for one thing: I want to eat it.
There is nothing of nutritional value in Angel Delight. The first ingredient is sugar and the rest are a canny blend of emulsifiers and anti-caking agents. But I do love it. My brother also loves it and we are both old, old men.
Rennies (spearmint flavour)
Because I live in America and so I need plenty of Tums. And Tums? They don’t cut it. Rennies let you know help is on the way, and they manage to taste of medicine and tastiness at the same time. They are something that works for 2am heartburn whether I’m in the UK or the US.
6 packets of Schwartz’s Tuna Napolitana recipe mix
Chosen because it’s a very small packet. Chosen because in Scotland we were knocking this stuff back at least once a month. Chosen because it has the “By appointment to Her Majesty the Queen” logo on the back. Chosen because it is the lifelong antidote to the single serving of Hamburger Helper I had in 2011.
This skin cream fixes my “spent 10 second in the cold air without gloves on” hand problems. Is there a skin cream I could buy in America that would do just as good a job? Judging from the bountiful TV commercials offering to sue on my behalf if I’d taken any medicine at all in this country of medicines, perhaps not. I have a generous tub of E45. I’m good until 2018, and then we’ll see.
Hamlyns Scottish Porridge Oats
Bulky, but I can’t find decent porridge in Tennessee. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, but why should I have to? This is a cheap, no-frills brand, and I spent many draughty, early-morning bus journeys to Leith with my porridge being the reason I was able to get out of bed in the first place. I’d like to be clear that I eat a lot more porridge than I do Angel Delight.
Joy Rides Travel Sickness Tablets
These are so I can get on the plane, otherwise I’d be taking the long boat between UK and USA. I don’t take Dramamine, just like I don’t take any of the other things recommended to me in America for my airplane-trauma, because I prefer to remain conscious throughout my suffering. (Which written down like that, I realize sounds masochistic).
We try to spread the “UK and USA are different, neither is better or worse” mantra wherever we go, but on this issue, American teaspoons are a disgrace to the name. Too small, they are no good for tea. Now, finally, we have enough to get us through the day. And so far I’ve mangled only one in the waste-disposal.
2 bottles of Chianti Classico
Because Tennessee liquor stores never have it, but both the Inverness Marks & Spencer and the Heathrow duty free do. Because Rebecca is a wine snob and won’t put up with anything else. Because sometimes, we like to pretend we’re European.
1 bottle Talisker 10 year old single malt
I don’t drink whisky, but I’m a Scot abroad in a foreign land, so I need to start. Likely this will sit in our kitchen cupboard for years, gathering dust. But I had to buy it. I had to buy me some whisky. But to be honest, my true Scottish badge of honor? It’s the Angel Delight, it’s the Tuna Napolitana. It’s the good stuff.