There’s a lot of joking around in England, between people who know each other, and among strangers. Just about every interaction I have in a shop ends with a joke.
Back in the US, I often joke with people waiting with me at the “T” (Boston’s train station, like the Underground in London or the subway in New York City), in stores, or on street corners as we wait for a light to change, but I find that I’m sometimes met with blank stares. This happens in England, of course, especially if the person you’re talking to is cranky, but more often an interaction ends with a joke.
This morning I was in a little shop in my parents’ village, and I made a mention of the headline in that day’s Daily Mail to the man at the till/register. The headline concerned the fact that members of the House of Lords get paid 300 pounds a day for their travel expenses, no matter where they live. Out of the 161 members of the Lords who live in London, 124 have claimed the daily allowance this year, including one who lives 200 feet away from Parliament.
I turned to the shop clerk and said, “Can you believe that? 300 pounds to walk 200 feet?” Without losing a beat he said, “I’ll do it for fifty.”