nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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The popularity of Peppa

My favourite episode of Peppa Pig is when Daddy Pig takes his book about concrete back to the library and sheepishly says “I may have had this for rather a long time.” To which Miss Rabbit, the librarian (and jack of all trades) responds after scanning the book and getting a loud alert sound, “Daddy Pig, you’ve had this book out for ten years!” Daddy Pig reddens in embarrassment and Miss Rabbit says “That’s alright, just don’t do it again”.  No fierce librarians in Peppa land.

This makes me and E laugh every time that we play the English DVD of Peppa Pig episodes. I had thought we had left this behind literally and metaphorically but with J reaching nearly two and a half, he has discovered the wonderful world of Peppa and I have gone back in time six years.

I share this because I take E’s Peppa Pig ball to the playground now. J loves it. And this has become a passport to conversations that start “where did you get that ball, X loves Peppa Pig!”  This is where I open my mouth, clearly demonstrating I am British and I am in. I am very popular. The ball is positively antique but here it is worth as much as one.

I have discovered that Peppa Pig is shown here but is dubbed with American voices! Why? Are the English voices that hard to understand? I don’t think the lovely Morwenna Banks would agree – she of the Mummy Pig and Miss Rabbit voices and partner of British comic, David Baddiel. Looks like I’ll be playing that ancient DVD for a while longer, I don’t think J would understand why Peppa is suddenly accentuating her Rs and replacing her Ts for Ds. And I don’t fancy it either.

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Not everyone in England lives in an abbey

There has been much excitement here in the US at the prospect of a new series of Downton Abbey. The New York Times devoted an entire broadsheet page to previewing the new series. It shows on PBS here, which is a peculiar public channel that I think pretty much everyone gets. On our RCN cable package it shows up as something called Masterpiece, so when you search for it on TIVO (our version of Sky+) it doesn’t show up. It was only by chance I found it on the listings. I have been asked so many times whether I am watching Downton Abbey. I am very glad to say that yes I am, because I had already seen the first three series in the UK and was peeved to have to wait until January to see series 4 when it had already finished showing in the UK.

I do have to remind people that not everyone lives like that – it is set nearly a hundred years ago, for a start; and I am not landed gentry. Well, I grew up on a  farm, but that’s not quite the same. I have to say though, seeing it now after being here for over a  year, it is lovely. I even find myself talking just a bit posher afterwards. And they show Sherlock on the same channel. Now that’s good TV and you don’t need the BBC iPlayer to see it. Bliss.

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They’re not Phil and Kirstie

Ah yes, Location, Location, Location, the UK property show that promised you a predictable hour of entertainment. British couples who want a property, can’t decide what they really want, look to Phil and Kirstie to guide them on their way. They see a terrible property, a not so terrible one and after a few more ups and downs and the mandatory flirting between the two hosts, they find the home of their dreams. Safe, predictable evening TV from Channel 4.

And do we have that here? Err, no. we have Million Dollar Listing: New York. A fabulous catty programme that focuses on three different real estate agents as they try to make as much commission as possible by selling incredible multi million dollar apartments. The agents all hate each other and do whatever they can make the deal and there’s high camp drama all round. I love seeing the seeing amazing properties that look like they came straight out of a magazine and of course seeing all the streets of New York. It’s mostly focused down town in areas like Chelsea and Tribeca, with occasional trips uptown. It’s brilliant. It’s great entertainment. Watch it on-line and become addicted.



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Did you see the game?

This is the conversation of the day. No explanation needed, everyone is talking about the Super Bowl. I had never seen it before nor had any interest in its existence but you could not escape it here. Every bar, every cafe had some sign up encouraging people to watch it on the big screen, eat lots of junk food and drink beer. Even when I went for a run in Central Park early on Sunday morning there were reminders, as the fun run also going on in the park split a section of the road into the San Franciso 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens who were the competing teams. In honour of the great day, Animal Planet, a cable channel shows Puppy Bowl, which is in its 9th year. It is a mini American football field filled with puppies and goes on for two hours, over four quarters, just like the real Super Bowl. However after half an hour of ‘ahh, aren’t they cute’ it does get a bit samey. Although I did enjoy the hedgehog cheerleaders and the guinea pig commentators. I did watch the entire Super Bowl which started at 6.30 pm and went on until past 10.30, not helped by a power outage just after half time which the conspiracy theorists say gave the losing team time to recover and stage a come back. R explained the rules to me all the way through, quite how he knows all about this, I have no idea, but it did make a bit more sense that way. Because each play of American football is so short, it’s a great excuse to show lots and lots of adverts and because each break is variable in length, it’s hard to watch on time lapse, so I saw a lot. Beyonce strutted her stuff during the half time break and put on an impressive show, her legs seem to go on forever!  Oh, and Baltimore won. I put it down to their kit, so much nicer than the San Francisco ensemble of red and brown.

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Double Divas

I have discovered my new favourite TV show. It’s called Double Divas. Two women from Atlanta have a lingerie shop called Lili Rae and they make all their own merchandise. It’s a cross between Anne Summers and Agent Provocateur. They are huge characters and care deeply about the women they fit – think Trinnie and Suzanna with southern US accents. The series highlight so far is the fitting of Norma Stits, who cannot find a bra to fit her enormous breasts. She leaves happy and elevated. Other customers include the rapping cowboy looking for something for his girl and the completely misjudged batchelorette (hen) party full of ladies who lunch, horrified at the lingerie party put on by Molly and Cynthia. It’s incredibly entertaining and if it’s not in the UK yet, it should be.

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Too many breaks

Sex and the City first aired in June 1998 and I think I have seen every single episode and most of them many times.  Watching it in New York should be perfect. I am used to fast forwarding through ad breaks using Sky+, but 3 in 30 minutes, so short that my new Tivo remote (ah yes, a return to Tivo – bigger here than in the UK, where I think we were the only users until they cancelled the listings and forced us on to Sky) can’t stop quick enough and I constantly have to back up. The show starts with a ticker tape running across the bottom of the screen, telling me about stars and their babies/divorce/affair and it is very distracting. Bizarrely the credits for the show display at top speed on the bottom left of the screen, what’s that about? And the episode I have recorded cuts off 30 seconds before the end, so I have to play the start of the next one to see the end. Then it cuts straight into the next episode with no break. Aghhh. It isn’t perfect, but on the ridiculously large TV that R bought, it’s a great way to see New York.