A British sense of humour


Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a morning person. As much as I enjoy going out to the parks and botanical gardens this time of year and marveling at the trees and flowers and the way the sun pokes through all the leaves creating wonderful kaleidoscopes of light, there is only so much sun I can take. Back before I went back to college, it seemed as if I could only work on my creative pursuits in the darkest part of night. Then again, maybe that had less to do with light than it did the fact that my backyard abuts Toledo’s busiest highway loop. Anyway, although that has changed — I attribute this to the fact that Dad never bothered to put blinds or drapes on my bedroom window — I still prefer to be a late riser, and there are still certain activities that I find I can do better at certain times of day.

This is the main reason why this semester has been so hard on me. I have a very small class this term, filled with incredibly brilliant writers who I barely even need to teach; I can just give them a bit of guidance and turn them loose, and shortly thereafter get back a lot of top-quality writing. Combined with the fact that I’m teaching on the satellite campus, and thus saving about $30 a week on gas from when I was teaching on the main campus, and you would think that this would be an absolutely wonderful time for me. Unfortunately this class I’m teaching is also meeting very early in the afternoon. I have no problem getting up before noon — heck, I’m only getting up about forty-five minutes earlier than my usual wake-up time — but I’m having to cram an awful lot of activities into a very short span of time every morning before I teach. Combine that with the fact that I still have to stay up late at night to take care of other responsibilities, and I’ve felt totally out of whack for the past month or so. I can’t get as much sleep as I need, it’s been impossible to stick to a diet because my energy levels just won’t stay stable, and I seem to go from long periods of cramming a million activities in a few minutes to long periods with nothing to do.

I didn’t come here to blog about my schedule, though. (Although I do think this explains why my blogging has been so sporadic lately.) No, I came to talk to you about BBC America.

See, my sister and her husband moved out of the house on the first of this year, into their own apartment northeast of here. Less than two months later Dad died, and were it not for the fact that Heather and Mark are tied in to a twelve-month lease at the apartment, they probably would have moved right back in me and Mom. Heather’s been over here on weekdays while Mark’s at work, though, to help with cleaning and just to keep Mom company. In the fifty or so days Heather was a stay-at-home housewife (er, apartmentwife), she spent a lot of time watching television, and one of the shows she got hooked on was the BBC show How Clean is Your House?, a show where two British ladies go around to the dirtiest homes in all the United Kingdom, document how dirty and filthy and germ-ridden the houses are, and then clean the houses up with the help of the owners and a team of cleaners. It’s the kind of reality television you’d expect the British to come up with, and I can see the appeal of the show, although it’s definitely not the kind of show I would make a point of watching. Unfortunately I don’t have a choice in the matter, as Mom and Heather insist on watching the show every day.

Normally I could avoid this just like I avoid everything else I don’t like in this house, by shutting myself up in my room and working on things here at my computer while I blast some tunes to drown out the audio from the downstairs television. Unfortunately, BBC America, sadists that they are, decided to put on How Clean is Your House? starting at noon. On a day when I don’t teach (or I teach in the evening), that’s about when I’m having breakfast downstairs; this term that’s when I have to grab a quick lunch before I dash off to the satellite campus. Our kitchen opens full-on to our living room, and the television faces directly into the kitchen. It’s impossible to open the refrigerator or plug in the toaster without getting an eyeful of a refrigerator with more culture in it than a PBS mini-series, or a bathroom so grimy that not even Jigsaw would be cruel enough to chain anyone up in it. Needless to say, catching an eyeful of these images while I’m trying to eat my Cheerios does not make me very cheery-o.

I would like to just blame my sister for this; after all, I think the only reason she watches this show is because it gives her an excuse not to clean our house as thoroughly as it should be because, hey, at least it’s not as bad as the ones on television. However, I have to wonder exactly what cleaning fumes the programmers at BBC America had under their noses when they decided to put this show on at noon. Noon being the start of the lunch hour is part of our American DNA; even in this day and age, the plurality of full-time jobs are from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, with a lunch hour break starting right at noon. I know that the British tend to take their lunches, er, dinners closer to one or two in the PM, but BBC America isn’t just BBC programming on an American channel. If they’re going to take the time to bleep out all of the curse words our tender American ears just can’t stand to hear coming out of the telly, and if they’re going to produce a dumbed-down newscast to compete with our American dumbed-down newscasts, you would think that they’d at least take the time to research our culinary habits and take a few minutes to think through the fact that we don’t like to see cockroach nests and caked-on human waste when we’re trying to eat our bloody lunches!

I’d really appreciate it if someone could present me some other reason why BBC America would schedule this show during lunchtime, other than that they’re deliberately trying to make us nauseous. Until then, I may need How Clean is Your House? to come across the pond and come to my house, to clean up all the vomit in and around my toilet caused by watching their show.

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