The Virtue of the 3 Cs

Before we moved abroad, a friend in London gave me this sage advice:

Always remember the 3 Cs:  Don’t Complain, Don’t Compare, and Don’t Convert

You have to heed good advice…within reason.

1) Don’t Complain

There are some things worthy of complaint. First, the weather.  It’s not just the rain and cold.  I am constantly warned in sotto voce with a dire sense of doom of the impending darkness.  It is like a cloak of pure wretchedness is going to be cast over the city.  Apparently, once the clocks switch back, it gets dark in London at 3:00 pm.  The sun rarely shines, so even daylight hours are bleak.  Good for vampires, bad for people.  Our vitamin D pills are ready!

Then there is the pub food.  There are just so many beer battered haddock, fried potatoes, and mashed peas that a person can endure.  And I wonder, if you are over 3 years old, do you ever really want mashed peas?

I particularly enjoy when the pub tries to be trendy.  Check out this recent offering at a local watering hole:

Duck liver parfait, fig and onion, spiced toast

It’s the word, parfait, that really gets me.  As if this could be construed in any way as a treat!  I long for a cheeseburger and fries.

2) Don’t Compare

It is impossible not to.  I particularly love when the girls do this.  Katie recently attended a fancy birthday party at the Amadeus Club.  I asked her to describe the swanky venue.  She blithely replied, “It was just like Arch Street back in Greenwich!” Really? She wore T-shirts and gym shorts to those parties!

I used to think that I had to re-do my kitchen in Old Greenwich.  It seemed out of date, the appliances were failing, and the space was not optimal.  I must have been sniffing glue!  Now I can stand in the middle of my galley kitchen and simultaneously touch the sink, stove top, and the dishwasher, none of which function particularly well.   The “Barbie oven” comes with baking trays that would have fit in my old toaster. 

Ironically, because I no longer spend my days doing laps on the Post Road of Greenwich, I actually cook here all the time.  Maybe I should invite Ken over.

Don’t even get me started on the laundry room.  You can’t help but compare washing machines.  In Connecticut, I could stuff a comforter, a set of sheets, and some random clothes in one load that would be done in about 20 minutes.  Now, I struggle to get three socks and a Tshirt done in an hour long cycle!  Barbie would have no issues as her wardrobe would actually fit well in my European machine.

3) Don’t Convert

Good point, because if you did you’d realize that you just spent the equivalent of $5 on a latte, $30 on a pizza, and $100 on one small bag of groceries.

However, it might be a wise to manage spending.  The Great Britain Pound (GBP) literally looks like Monopoly money.  It comes in various candy colored hues, the graphics are quite illustrative, and the coins are heavy and decorative.

I seem to dispense of this play money very quickly.  Everything is basically double US prices.

Recently, my debit card did not work at a till (notice the local lingo) when checking out at a store.  Curious.  I then tried to get cash later in the day, and it was rejected at the ATM too. I called the bank to discover that we had no money in our checking account and exactly 1 lonely GBP in our savings account!  Immediately my mind raced through the possible scenarios:  was my account hacked, did someone discover my PIN, was my identity stolen? The truth was far less sinister.

It the madness of the move, one important detail fell through the cracks.  We never had Jeff’s paychecks re-routed to our new British bank account!

How many MBAs does it take to… get the picture.

And so, I will boldly go forward with my positive attitude and heed the 3 Cs.  Though it may leave me feeling like the 3 Bs:

Blanched in complexion, Blind to comparison, and Bankrupt of compensation!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate October 26, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Come home, with a massive suitcase full of laundry, and enjoy the snappy air, iceberg blue skies and crunchy leaves. We’ll play Monopoly with pounds, and laugh heartily at all your adventures while eating turkey. (I can’t wait to see how you pull that one off – we tried my “six months of Europe after college trip” and it was quite a deviation from tradition….. Start sourcing cranberry now!

Hang in there!


Cathy Dishner November 7, 2011 at 11:48 am

Great to hear from you Kate – welcome to my blog.

Hope all is well with you at home. No turkey for me this year as we will be in Morocco!!


Cindy Rinaldi November 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Hi Cathy!
Read about your epxloits for the first time today… what fun to read! Of course, I’m sitting under the Florida sun planning T-Day around the pool.
England will be a brighter place for having you there!


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