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A Foreigner in Britain

INTRODUCTION

[pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic]"Britain's a funny place," I said.
"What do you mean, funny?" Mark asked.
I was sitting at a table on the terrace of a bar in Madrid with my friend Mark, who's from England. We were both drinking cold drinks and eating tapas and talking about countries. "Well, it's ... different," I said. "There are so many contrastsand contradictions about Britain. The people, for example. Sometimes they're cold and distant. When they sit on buses or trains, especially on the Tube (a name for the London Underground), they don't usually look at anybody and nobody talks. But they like travelling to different countries and meeting different people. Another thing is their appearance. Tve seen lots of young people with red orblue hair and some of their clothes are, well, strange!"
"You're generalising," said Mark. "Not all British people are reserved and not all young British people have red or blue hair. And are you talking about the British or are you talking about the English? Because we're not all English, you know. It's called Britain for a reason. It includes the Scots and the Welsh as well."
"Yes, I know,and I know that I'm generalising. But I've seen some strange things in Scotland and Wales as well," I explained.
"Antonio, what are you trying to say?" Mark asked with a smile.
"I'm trying to say that I think Britain is a fascinating place. I think the English, the Scots and the Welsh are fascinating people and that Britain has a wonderful culture and history. Every time I go there, somethingsurprises me."
"Well, you said you wanted to be a writer. Perhaps you should write about Britain," laughed Mark.
"Yes, perhaps I should. That's quite a good idea," I answered.
My name's Antonio and I'm Spanish, but my father is American and we spent a long time in the United States when I was young. I've just finished university. I studied English and journalism in Salamanca. SalamancaUniversity is probably the most popular Spanish university among foreign students. Sometimes there were so many people from Britain around me that I almost forgot that I was in Spain. I made some good British friends who were studying in Salamanca and I love going to visit them in Britain. So, when Mark said I should write about my experiences, I did. I wrote about my first impressions, the country,the people, the culture, the food and, of course, the weather! Here's the book - I hope you enjoy it.

CHAPTER 1.- Traditional London

[pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic]I love visiting London. It's one of the most exciting cities in the world. There's something for everyone - a rich history, wonderful museums, great theatre, innovative music and an incredible variety of ethnic food.Recently, I visited London for the New Year with Pablo, a Spanish friend of mine. He had never been there before. At the end of our first day, we went to a pub. Like many pubs in Britain, it had a very relaxed atmosphere. There were comfortable chairs, a carpet on the floor, and the lighting wasn't very bright. Like most British pubs, it also had an enormous selection of beers, which are usually served inpint (a pint is approximately half a litre) glasses.
We got a couple of pints of beer and sat down to talk. Our conversation was soon interrupted by the barman.
"Sorry, gentlemen," he said. "We're closing in twenty minutes. Can I get you anything else?"
I ordered two more pints and promised the barman that we would finish them before closing time.
"He's joking, isn't he? It's only10.40!" exclaimed Pablo, as the barman went to the bar to get our pints.
"No, he isn't," I laughed. "That's what happens here."
"Then let's finish our beer quickly and find another pub that doesn't close so early," said Pablo.
"You don't understand," I explained. "Most of the pubs in Britain close at the same time - 11.00 pm."
"That's crazy!" exclaimed Pablo. "There are bars in Spain...
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