FAREWELL BRITAIN

October 12th, 2004

I would just like to say that I have learned a lot since coming to England.

I have learned about British culture (they all hate Posh) and British food (there is no such thing as bacon here. Here, all bacon is ham).

I have learned how to properly prepare tea (milk goes in the cup FIRST, THEN the tea) and how to ask where the ladies room is (“Loo, please?”).

I have learned that the people here are lovely and warm, even though they don't, in general, get excited over sheep that much, though the reasons for this elude me.

But most of all, I have learned about British medicine. British cold medicine, to be exact. It is called Beechams. It comes in powdered and capsule form. If you take both at the same time, it almost works (just kidding, Brits).

I'm sure Beechams works against ordinary colds. I just don't happen to have an ordinary cold. What I have appears to be a mix of SARS and possibly tuberculosis. I've completely lost my voice, and now when I talk I sound like Darth Vader. That's only when any sound comes out of my voice at all. Which isn't often.

Apparently, you only stoop to Beechams here if you are at death's door. Personally, I believe I passed death's door around four this morning when I was having one of those fever nightmares—you know, the ones you only have when you're sick. Which in my case are always that I have a baby, but then I lose it.

Yeah. I lose the baby. Not like it died or anything. Just like I forgot where I put it.

And then, in my dream, I'm like, “Oh my God, I lost my baby AGAIN. My mom is going to kill me. She HATES when I lose my baby. Where did I put that stupid INSERT SWEAR WORD HERE baby, anyway? God, I KNEW I shouldn't have had so many gin and tonics. But they were so good. Is that my baby? Oh, no, that's just a bald midget. You know, I never wanted a stupid INSERT SWEAR WORD HERE baby in the first place. Oooh, look, Krispy Kreme is open!”

And then in the dream I'm always secretly relieved when the baby turns out to have been hit by a truck or whatever.

But I have to pretend like I'm sad, or my mom will get mad.

THAT is the scary part of the nightmare. Not that my baby is dead. But that I'm afraid people are going to find out I'm GLAD my baby is dead.

I think this is sort of a sign that I should never actually have children of my own.

Do you see why I'm bummed the Beechams isn't working?

So when my room service waiter came to bring my breakfast to me this morning after I had all those gin-and-tonic-losing-baby dreams, and I croaked “Morning,” to him (room service waters are the only living human beings besides my husband who get the privilege of seeing me without mascara on) and he went, “Sounds like you'd better call in sick today.”

And I went, “Well, I can't, because I'm on a book tour and you can't call in sick to a book tour unless you're bleeding out of your eyes.”

To which the waiter Britishly replied, “Thank you, Miss Cabot, for that pleasant visual image which will remain with me throughout the rest of my day.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, it wasn't as bad as all that, I still had my voice for the awesome signing I went to in Guildford yesterday. Plus, they had a microphone. I freaking LOVE microphones!!!! Every time a bookseller hands me one, I just want to bust out with “C'Mon C'Mon” by the Von Bondies, instead of doing my Princess Talk.

But it would be hard without a backup band.

Since Guildford was my last signing in England, I worked the words boob, pants, and bum into my speech, just for kicks, since the whole C'Mon, C'Mon thing wouldn't have worked, since I could barely talk, let alone sing. It was great to see so many Guildfordians, although sadly, there are no sheep in Guildford (but many thanks to Jane E for the sheep keychain, along with sheep stickers and her very nice letter and drawing!).

Which reminds me, thanks to Rachael E too for the CD of “English music.” It has been quite entertaining and educational as well to listen to.

Anyway, back to Beechams. Let's put it this way. It's no Comtrex. And there's clearly no codeine in it.

But I am clinging to it as my last hope. I mean, EVENTUALLY it will have to start working, right? RIGHT??? Although the sugar free Ricola Lemon Mint lozenges didn't do ANYTHING for the dry hacking cough that accompanies this cold (by the way, I spoke to a transplanted American here who said SHE caught this SAME cold when she first got here, and that she went to the doctor and he told her EVERYONE who comes to England from America gets it, because England is an island with its own set of diseases against which Americans have no built in immunity.

However, my agent is here from New York and SHE didn't get it, so what's up with that?).

So I switched to Halls Mentholyptus, which you know is like the KING of throat lozenges—if Halls doesn't do the job, you might as well just get a tracheotomy–and I figured maybe, working in tandem with the Beechams, it would start to make me feel better.

But it was REALLY hard to find Halls. I had to go to three different chemists and then I was like scrounging around at the bottom of the rack amidst all the Brit lozenges like Soothers and SippySuckers or whatever, and when I finally found some they were WAY at the back underneath some like pantyhose (nylons) or whatever.

But I snagged them anyway and was all, “YES!!! SCORE!!!!” which caused the people in there buying their paracematol to look at me all weird, but who cares?

But then when I was taking one of my Halls after my awesome goodbye dinner tonight at OXO Tower, I saw all the Brits looking at me curiously, so I was like, “Um…would you like one?” and they were like, “Yes, thank you,” and they took them and ate them.

LIKE THEY WERE CANDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And that's when I realized that's what they thought they were!!!! CANDY!!!! Can you imagine if you took something you thought was candy but actually it contained MENTHOL LYPTUS and besides which was sugar free and you ate it NOT KNOWING???

So all the poor British people were sucking on the Halls, pretending like they liked them, and going, “Mmmm, delicious,” while I swear I could see their eyes watering from all the menthol. I felt so bad for them! I mean, they are used to Beechams and Sippysuckers, for God's sakes!!!! They are not ready for super strong, straight to business American cold medicines.

Anyway, I hope they've all recovered now. And now I know why the Halls was jammed way in the back at the chemist:
to keep innocent Brits from mistaking them for candy.

Back at the hotel, I was sad to note that I bought so many things at Topshop that I can't get my suitcase shut and now I have to ship half of what I bought home. Which is just naff (British for lame).

But I don't have time to buy another suitcase. Besides, I think there are weight limits.

Lastly, I'm pretty sure I figured out who was having such noisy sex in the room next to mine at the Cheltenham hotel. I am not telling. But you would totally die if I did. Tell, I mean.

So would he.

That's it for now, I have to go give myself a double dose of Beechams (to prevent lost baby dreams) and then try to get some sleep before my looooong flight home tomorrow.

Thanks to all the Brits who made this tour such fun (it really wasn't your fault I got sick) and who also made Sixsational #2 (YAY!!!!!!!!) on the UK paperback bestseller list.

And in answer to your MANY queries, you can find my entire tour wardrobe on
www.betseyjohnson.com, and my cowboy boots at www.zappos.com (although I saw some just like them in Topshop, I swear).

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, BRITAIN!!!! SEE YOU NEXT TIME!!!!! Or, as you would put it, CHEERS!

More later.

Much love,

Meg