The English Home, DIY, and Uber Drivers

Honestly, do-it-yourself decorations and home improvements are things I have never had the patience or artistic prowess to create. I tried to make a ribbon wall for my Polaroid pictures in high school, but I kinda gave up a tenth around my room, so it just ended up making my room look very awkward. I quickly learned how much the English were into DIY projects when I was researching how-to-do lists for gardening/decorating/fixing the Heron Way allotment. I researched how to make squash arches from PVC pipes, chicken runs, pallet furniture, and creative ways to reuse old tools. I could not help wondering if it would be cheaper and easier just to buy a tool holder instead of using a pallet to make one.  I guess for Americans like myself, this is the simple (and lazy) approach. But for the English, buying everything would take out the excitement and connection with the task. As noted in Fox’s book, DIY tasks give their home a sense of identity versus buying it off of Amazon, like I do every week. I guess to the English I am “basic.”

 

The English also like to keep the location of their home rather secretive, which Jack and I learned the hard way. The Saturday of the Wireless Music festival I left my keys and Gray’s keys in the backseat of an Uber (not my brightest moment). After calling the Uber driver several times, I finally was able to get an address of his “workplace” where I could go and pick up the keys. Jack accompanied me to pick them up on Monday. We had an Uber drop us off right outside of his workplace, but we found out once the Uber drove away that the side of the road we were on only was even numbered buildings. In order to get to the odd numbered buildings, we had to walk all the way across Finsbury Park. Thirty minutes later, we were outside the rather sketchy “workplace.”  The moral of this long-winded story is that it is easier said than done to find the English’s addresses. Real talk, though thanks Shahu for not using our keys to rob us. You’re the real MVP.

The help request I sent via Uber
The help request I sent via Uber


  • I remember the first week here when we were trying to find Sara’s apartment the first week and thought we were lost because none of the houses had street numbers. The discreet labeling of British homes falls in line with much of what Fox discusses in her book about the British value of privacy. I think it’s interesting that so many try to conceal the location of their home; I’d think it would be in others best interest to make that information so those like mailmen and houseguests would be able to find where they are going. I think your example especially highlights where the desire for privacy creates more problems than benefits. It will be interesting to see how the British privacy trend evolves as the world becomes increasingly more transparent.

  • I feel your pain when it comes to getting lost in London. I have a terrible sense of direction to begin with, but London addresses are also very confusing. My first week at work my boss would just email me addresses of different places I needed to be and expect me to arrive on time. I remember the first place I went was numbered 56, but very few of the other stores on the street had numbers. I spent twenty minutes to figure out where to find the 56 building because stores would jump from 2 to 200. Then some places, like the main office of my company does not have a street number in its address, which made it hard to find. I still don’t really understand London’s addresses, but at least I don’t get lost going to work anymore.

  • I want to talk about the DIY projects. I hadn’t picked up on this aspect of British culture until reading this. Thinking back, I have noticed all sorts of little quirky items that look like something someone might pick up in an American dollar store. I now realize that it was not really about the item, it is about the fun of making them. I think Americans may be labeled as “lazy” like you said for just ordering the product online for relatively the same price, but I think it could also be said that it is probably more practical to save the time and order the product in some cases. I think it is just a difference in attitudes. Where most things in America are made in China, i think British people take pride in making things for themselves and not relying on others.


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