Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ranting & raining

Is it possible that rain falls horizontally, vertically, and from the ground up, all at the same time? That's what it felt like today in Edinburgh. Add in wind blowing from the east, the west, from ahead and from behind, and you've got yourself a truly miserable day.

All the same, what kind of 400+ year old university library closes 4 hours early on account of bad weather? Hasn't this institution been around long enough to know that the rain will come and then will go, and students will just keep on doing their work? The University of Edinburgh librarian told me that the sudden closure was on account of "Health and Safety Concerns."

I've noticed that British society takes "Health and Safety Concerns" to a level that I've never known in the United States. I'm trying to think of some other examples.

Let's see, for one, there are doors everywhere! Walk into our flat and there are 6 doors coming off of the small hallway - one for each room or closet. Theoretically, this set-up is more effective in stopping a fire from spreading - but all these doors kind of get in the way. I'm used to the more "open floor plan" of a typical American home.

Another curious thing about the flat is that it came with instruction manuals for EVERYTHING. The refrigerator. The toaster. The tea kettle. I can only imagine that landlords are required to leave them on premises because of Health & Safety requirements.

The other day hiking around the Crags of Arthur's Seat, I noticed a small sign. It said that the proprietors of the area required that permission must be granted to climb around on the rocks due to Health & Safety risks. Who, exactly, are we supposed to get permission from?

I think British people are just better at following the rules. Pubs that close at 1am close at 1am. Glasses of wine in bars are measured out by the mL - you can order a small or a large. Food and drink is not allowed in many public places. I'm always sneaking a hot drink on to the bus or into the library knowing that it is strictly forbidden. I can't help it that things are just so much more pleasant with a cup of coffee.


  1. Let me assure you that it has been raining just as miserably and slantedly and upwardly around here. Until today of course, when the sun came out and the earth reminded us that it is finally spring. Miss you L-sheep.

  2. I remember visiting St Paul's Cathedral in London in high school, and being shocked that little kids were just running rampant up at the very top of the dome. No one in the states would trust kids to follow the rules of not falling off the edge of a gigantic cathedral dome, but in Britain...


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