Years ago, when my wife and I were just dating, she took me on a day trip to the seaside at Brighton. It was my first exposure to the British at play in a marine environment. It was a fairly warm day -- I remember the sun came out for whole moments at a time -- and large numbers of people were in the sea. They were shrieking with what I took to be pleasure, but now realize was agony. Naively, I pulled off my T-shirt and sprinted into the water. It was like running into liquid nitrogen. It was the only time in my life in which I have moved like someone does when a movie film is reversed. I dived into the water and then straight back out again, backward, and have never gone into an English sea again.*
Since that day, I have never assumed that anything is fun just because it looks like the English are enjoying themselves doing it, and mostly I have been right.
Later that same day this lovely young English girl, this person in whom I was about to entrust my permanent happiness and well-being, took me to a seafood wagon and bought me a little tub of whelks. If you have never dined on this marine delicacy, you may get the same experience by finding an old golf ball, removing the cover, and eating what remains. The whelk is the most flavorless and indestructible thing ever to be regarded as food. I think I still have one of them in a jacket pocket somewhere.
~ Bill Bryson, The Road to Little Dribbling
Yesterday I was blowing and going all day long -- but at around 4:30, I decided to take a moment to myself, and read some more of Bill Bryson's new book, The Road to Little Dribbling, outside on our patio. We're having a really early spring, and it seemed a shame not to enjoy it a bit.
Besides, Bill Bryson always makes me laugh. Happy hour, indeed.
* He's right -- the English seaside is the coldest substance known to man.