The Turn of the Leaves, the Chill in the Air

If you’ve been following my other blogs and my Twitter account, you’ll know that I’ve gotten a new job, working with something I have a great interest in: beer.

If you want to know more about it, this post on Tastyfever.com explains my new vocation.

My job requires me to be out on what I like to call “the beer beat” to visit pubs, restaurants and shops that sell our beer or whom we’d like to have sell our beer, so I’ve had some brilliant walks lately in areas that I normally don’t get to explore very much. My iPhone isn’t great at being able to capture the autumnal scenery I’ve gotten to see recently, but I try.

I’m coming up on my third autumn in London. It’s a very wet autumn we’re having, with no sign of last year’s unseasonal warmth. The wet leaves stick together for the most part, but we did have a lovely week where I was able to enjoy kicking the leaves a little. It isn’t bitingly cold yet, though. Chilly in the evenings, but generally not cold enough to wear the oversized scarf I wrap myself up in or to put on the cat-eared hat I stashed in my bag.

I’m having a battle of wills at the moment in trying not to turn the heating on, which might be silly to some, but it’s not that long ago I was making only a sniff or two above minimum wage. Old, stingy habits and financial paranoia die hard, even though I’m generally a rash and indulgent sort, what with my £3.50 jar of posh jam and fancy loose-leaf tea. In fact, I’ll spend an absurd amount on consumables and shell out cash for museum exhibitions and books, while at the same time dig around in charity shops and let my hair grow awkward.

It’s a funny thing, priorities.

This prelude to winter hasn’t been bad. In fact, it’s been pretty damn good, despite being sick twice in October and getting escorted into A&E by an ambulance. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds, but it was pretty worrying. But then I remembered I’m not responsible for the ambulance bill. Just the cab ride home.

The American Thanksgiving has technically passed, which means American expat mental calendars can finally accept the Christmas lights, decorations, markets, sales and other things to get us to buy things for ourselves and for other people that’s been in full swing for a few weeks now. The Marmite lights are up on Oxford Street, featuring an elf chundering into a Santa hat which illuminates class and holiday cheer. For a better display, Covent Garden’s Seven Dials won’t disappoint. Last I looked, the lights in Angel Islington weren’t up, but maybe they are by now. I hope so, as I think they’re rather nice. The “bulbs on a stick” are up along Hackney high streets, including glorious Green Lanes’ lower bit.

I’ve had mince pies, but I really haven’t had a reason to buy myself one of the panettone cakes. My holiday last year was a spartan one in terms of finances and company, but perhaps this year I’ll have a little bit of money to buy a special panettone and have someone to share it with. I’ve been feeling a bit under pressure lately in finding my feet at my new job and a bit broke due to being on the emergency tax code here in the UK, which is a pain in the pocket. However, when looking back on where I was in my life last year–two jobs that still barely let me make rent, barely any free time or pocket change to indulge in anything, very little time to see friends–it’s a lucky, lucky thing to be where I am now. Sure, I’m hardly ballin’, and I certainly haven’t let go of money troubles, but I’m not working 70 hour weeks. I’m eating an occasional Sunday roast dinner.

I can order cheese boards.

Lots of cheese boards.

I can think about indulging in a panettone for the holidays. A small one. Provided that I stop spending over three quid for jam.

I can even afford to leave London on a trip out to places that aren’t London. Sort of. Well, to borrow money, then pay said money back the next time I get paid.

I’m getting there. In a way. I don’t think I can plan trips to the European continent anytime soon, but I might be able to swing a place like Brighton, Bath, Bristol or other places that don’t necessarily have to start with the letter “B.” I might not be able to spend the time or cash cooking up a vegetarian Thanksgiving feast and figuring out where the hell to get cornmeal from for cornbread, but I’ll enjoy my pub roast in lieu of Thanksgiving. My veggie Wellington might even beat out slices of Tofurky.

Although if I do see Tofurky over here without all the fixin’s (I can make better fixin’s than boxed fixin’s, frankly), I will snap that phoney bird up like nobody’s business, more for nostalgia than for actual value.

Speaking of Tofurky, one of my favourite vegans and best friends is in prison back in Florida, and has been since the beginning of this month. I don’t know the full details, as I can’t speak vis-a-vis with my US bestie, who is also his wife. But whatever it was (apparently a nonviolent drug crime), it’s a stupid reason, I’m sure. I’ve been writing postcards when I’ve been in pubs and cafés, as prisoners don’t really get Facebook time, as far as I know. So it’s back to analogue correspondence, hoping the Royal Mail doesn’t misplace your sentiments in the back of a van or at the bottom of a bag, and also hoping that a bunch of prison guards don’t think your postcard image is inappropriate.

His wife has shared with us an action group called Families Against Mandatory Minimums, or FAMM. I’ve signed up for e-mail updates, so I’m hoping there can be something I can do.

In the meantime, I hope he’s getting my postcards, and that he’ll be able to get out soon so that he and his wife can come visit me here in the Big Smoke.

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3 Comments

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  1. Thunderstorm Bun 24/11/2012 — 20:50

    Polenta = cornmeal.

  2. Thunderstorm Bun 24/11/2012 — 21:28

    If you ever need any US/UK ingredient conversions, give me a shout.

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