England is really great and all, but there are three daily conveniences America has that could greatly benefit the English people and all their visitors.
1) Water fountains. This is a land of dehydrated people. It occurred to me as I was feeling down and homesick the other day that I had had almost no water the whole entire day. At home, I carry my CamelBak with me like it’s another appendage; I can easily down four in a day. Here, I can carry it with me, but once it’s empty, it’s empty. There is no place to fill it up, save for a bathroom sink, but that kind of freaks me out. And at dinner, we each have a glass that can hold approximately two mouthfuls of water, and then we have a pitcher of water for about every four people. Usually our communal pitcher is empty before we’ve even started the main dish. I propose we do away with the tiny glasses and each get our own personal pitcher. But back to the main point—if America conquered Great Britain, installing water fountains could be seen as humanitarian intervention.
2) Reliable toilets. I should not have a panic attack every time I try to flush a toilet. In America, unless you’ve really made a mess of things, flushing a toilet is pretty much guaranteed. Here, if you look at a toilet the wrong way you’re likely to get a small spurt of water into the bowl… and nothing else. Wiggling the handle, pushing it slowly, slamming it down—once you’ve offended the toilet nothing will yield a satisfactory flush. In the bathroom on the second floor at Regent’s Park, I have injured myself twice trying to force the flusher down with all my might. I should also mention that I recently used one of those toilets with the wooden box and chain overhead. In lamenting the undependable toilets to my mother, she tried to encourage me by saying, “At least they’re not squatty-potties like when I was in India.” I maintain that I would actually prefer a squatty-potty, because at least they’re entirely incapable of boasting the illusion of a reliable flush.
3) Doors that open the way they should/the way you think they will. A vertical bar handle means “pull,” and a flat panel on a door means “push.” Unless you’re here, which means you’re always presented with a vertical bar handle, and no matter which way you try to open the door, you are always going to be wrong the first time. Always.