Ad Spot

September 24, 2021

Ford column: Cultural education starts on page 3

Breasts are no big deal in England.
I discovered this on our first day here in Rickmansworth, a small town 17 miles from London. Visiting my aunt and uncle and their family for the holidays, the kids and I walked to a typical English bakery for lunch.
We entered the tiny shop to find a display case overflowing with delectable pastries and breads. A platter of “American cupcakes” was prominently displayed, as exotic to British kids as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
A steep, wooden staircase led to a quaint second floor. The tables and chairs were so close together, I couldn’t help but notice when the elderly lady next to me opened her newspaper.
Page 3 featured a topless woman. I directed the kids’ attention to a window on the other side of the room.
I learned that there’s always a topless woman on page 3 of the Sun, the best-selling newspaper in the United Kingdom. (The Daily Telegraph distinguishes itself from the Sun with the claim, “Britain’s best-selling quality daily.”)
Breasts on playing cards, cigarette lighters and magazines greet us at nearly every gas station counter. Brits still must go inside to pay for their petrol, rather than swiping a card at the pump.
In general, Brits seem less uptight about many things. The attitude is refreshing, although I still didn’t want my kids eyeballing the page 3 girl.
Some Brits have a less tolerant view of children than nudity, however. The people we’ve encountered on the narrow sidewalks have little patience for our brood, and we quickly learned that pedestrians are just another obstacle for vehicles racing along crowded streets.
While all the pubs we’ve frequented welcome dogs, several ban children.
London’s subway system has been a fast and easy way to travel. Before boarding the tube, I repeat the mantra for our two-week visit, “Don’t be an obnoxious American.” The kids have obliged, mostly.
We toured London not by double-decker bus but by Duck Boat, an amphibious World War II craft upfitted for modern use. Painted yellow and manned by quacking tour guides, the Duck Boat chugged past Parliament and Westminster Abbey, then drove right into the Thames for a leisurely if white-knuckled ride on the river.
We spent Christmas Eve at a pantomime, a British holiday tradition. Called “panto,” these hilarious farces are based on children’s tales and feature singing, slapstick, cross-dressing and plenty of double entendre, some of which was lost on us.
In “Aladdin,” a character called the Widow Twankey, played by a man, spent much of the production lifting her skirts to reveal colorful bloomers, at which point we had to yell “big pants!”
We booed the despicable villain, warned the characters of danger lurking behind them and caught “sweets” thrown from the stage. We tried, unsuccessfully, to avoid the spray from a huge squirt gun during an extraordinarily silly version of the “12 Days of Christmas,” which featured two rounded, plastic figgy puddings topped with cherries.
The Widow Twankey knew just what to do with those. But I still don’t think she’ll make it as a page 3 girl.
Emily Ford covers the N.C. Research Campus.

Comments

Comments closed.

Coronavirus

Rowan County’s COVID-19 death toll tops 40 for September

College

Catawba-Wingate football game canceled

Crime

Blotter: Sept. 24

Coronavirus

Crowd turns out to raise money for hospitalized sheriff’s deputy

Coronavirus

COVID-19 death tally continues rising, now at 391 in Rowan County

Crime

‘No winners’: Mason found guilty in fish arcade murder trial

Local

Dixonville task force working to engrave names, quotes at cemetery

Coronavirus

Stage set for COVID-19 booster shots

News

Family finds unknown woman’s body in mother’s casket

Coronavirus

A third of workers in Cooper order not vaccinated

Nation/World

Remains of WWII soldier from North Carolina identified, will be buried in Robeson County

High School

State officials reach deal on prep sports governing, but details remain to be worked out

BREAKING NEWS

Mason found guilty in deadly fish arcade shooting

Crime

Blotter: Men stripped, robbed en route to buy beer

Crime

Jury begins deliberations in Fishzilla murder case

Education

East Rowan culinary students feed staff who helped build new classroom

Local Events

Rowan County Fair makes pandemic return Friday with COVID-19 protocols in place

Education

Education briefs: Schultz selected to NCDPI’s Teacher Leadership Council

Education

Catawba to induct six into Blue Masque Hall of Fame

Education

Cavs After Hours: A new tutoring space at North Rowan

Education

Shoutouts

Crime

Salisbury Police: Toyota Prius is most popular target for catalytic converter thieves

News

Salisbury City Council will vote on whether to exempt Goodwill developer from setback requirements

Local

Rowan Sheriff’s Office holding fundraiser for deputy hospitalized with COVID-19