1) Confession: I was wrong about skinny jeans/tights...kind of. While I am not sure that the fashion trend is motivated by practicality (we will have a better indication of this in the winter), there is certainly a practical application. Cycling with traditional trousers is tricky. I already snagged my black dress pants on my chain (when cycling in stilettos) and it is only a matter of time before I rip my jeans. AND, I was even riding "modified" when I ripped them--which means that I was attempting to bow my legs out to the side to get my ankles as far away from the peddles as possible. Believe it or not, it is actually easier (while perhaps less "lady-like") to bike in a dress or skirt. (However, the dismount is certainly trickier--especially on my boys bike which requires a higher leg-swing no matter how you slice it.)
2) I guess this one is kind of a revelation and a puzzler. I think that British people (and people in Oxford in general) don't like to be "thanked" for things. Well you are thanking someone for a good or a service (but especially a service) it doesn't seem to be well received. I have had reactions ranging from eye-rolls, to complete denial (as in, I pretended to not hear you just say that), to cowering fear. When I told one girl thank you for her help, it was like I had backed her into a corner and turned a spotlight on her; she quickly told me that "It was ok!", blushed, and got back to work. The reason why this bothers me is that I have taken on the role of self-appointed American ambassador to all other nations and cultures. I have heard that people think that American's are loud and rude, so I do all that I can to speak quietly and carry a small stick (metaphorically speaking of course). How do I represent a gracious, considerate American without lots of thank-you's? And why would anyone not like being thanked?! Well, that is where the true revelation comes in to play. You see, "service" like "efficiency" is not an ideal that is culturally esteemed. So, when you thank them for their help, service, or advice...
a) They don't believe that you are being sincere because they know that their service/help/advice is pretty terrible. They know that because it is intentionally so.
b) Your praise "outs" them as being non-complicit with the unspoken code to be unhelpful. Like the boy who doesn't want to be kissed by his mother, I think the English would prefer to not be thanked by Americans...at least not in public.
3) I have realized why the British don't exercise. And believe me, they don't exercise. It is because they entice people to take their food to go by charging more for eating in the restaurant. Now, stay with me here. If you can only eat what you can carry, it is automatic portion control. AND, if we (people who are too cheap to pay the extra pound to sit down) have to eat standing or walking, we are burning a higher proportion of that smaller portion, so we don't NEED to exercise (at least that is what I am telling myself). Brilliant. Take note America.
4) Now the better puzzler might be how these businesses can justify charging you to eat in the restaurant. I suppose there is a compelling argument, based on my previous comments, that it is some sort of incentive devised via collusion between the restaurants and the NHS, but I think that is unlikely. The second argument may be that they do it because they can. And I suppose that is true (thought I am living proof that they can't...I always take my meal for take-away), and it is also true that there is really no where to sit anyway, so you really don't have that much choice. But from a cost perspective, it seems to me that it might be more expensive to prepare food to go. Especially if we assume that there is more packaging used with take-away food. THUS, it could also be argued that it would be environmentally friendly to encourage people to eat in the restaurant, and that that should be the cheaper option! I hope the environmentally motivated vegetarians think about that next time they get their hummus and falafel baguette to go--since they are being complete hypocrites. I, on the other hand, will continue to enjoy my H&F baguette as my choices are entirely selfish--financial, flavor, and fitness.