The television license is mythical to those of us in the United States, but it’s prosaic part of having high-quality programming in the UK. We talk about the kinds of over-the-air, satellite, streaming, and cable TV available to us, our feelings on Rupert Murdoch, and did you know Glenn’s dad sold cable door to door in 1979?
Money is the root of all evil and the topic of this podcast. What in heaven’s name is spondulix? A pound is not a guinea. A five might be a finif, if you’re a gangster or read hard-boiled detective novels. Learn a little history and our favorite terms for money, as well as why those terms feel like they’re going extinct. Stay tuned after the episode for tooth-fairy inflation.
We’re in a jam about jelly. What Americans think of as jelly is rarely eaten outside North America, while other folks worried we were putting a gelatin-brand product on our peanut-butter sandwiches. It’s all about the pectin! We compute the compote and cut our way through the fruit thicket, including having our way with curd. Stay tuned to the exciting post-show discussion about tiny hotel spreads.
Everyone else’s postal codes seem bizarre until you start decoding them.
North American house numbering makes no sense to people with more rational systems, like that of Glasgow, which James reads out during this episode. Why do U.S. and Canadian homes have extremely long numbers and how can you use this to find cross streets?
Panelist Chris Phin asked the innocent question, “What’s a duplex?” We went off half-cocked, then fully loaded as we discussed the difference between American duplexes and triplexes, townhouses, UK semi-detached housing, and a “two flat” in New Zealand. A common wall means you have to talk to your neighbor to get anything done—and we know how that goes.
We quake with fear as we address the tricky question of floor numbering. If the ground floor is the floor that is level with the ground, what’s the first floor? What if your ground floor is a flight of stairs up? Why does James have shops in his basement? Did you park in the garage or lob yourself into the lobby? Going up. Or down. We’re not sure which.
Please make sure and consult this document, referenced after the official closing theme of this episode, which will “help” “explain” apartment and floor numbering in Glasgow.
Now for the most exciting of all topics: real-estate ownership! Americans try to explain condos and coops, Scots tell us about mysterious “factors” and trying to talk your neighbo(u)rs into things like spending huge sums to repair holes in the floor, and our New Zealand correspondent brings up…BODY CORPS?! Own, rent, or lease, we’ve been co-opted.
An off-handed remark from James that he lived in—nay, owned—a “tenement flat” led to an extended discussion about flats, apartments, and tenements, and about how we refer to the kind of sub-building dwelling we live in.
We thought we’d start a run of episodes continuing our theme of things around the house with a simple topic: bench or counter/countertop. It turns out after finishing a meal, we need to sidle into the bathroom, find the pocket door. We also learn that we must stop sitting on top of things off which one normally eats food—it’s rude! And, in some parts of the world, a cultural social catastrophe extending to tapu. Nothing is ever easy when we investigate English’s migration around the world. Shall you sit on a bench or a counter? Fiddlesticks.
A buttermilk biscuit is one of humanity’s greatest inventions. But it is somehow different from an English or Scottish (or New Zealand) scone, whether you pronounce it skown or skon. In this episode, we tear biscuits apart, peer inside sausages, and swim in gravy.
We wade into the contentious debate of what constitutes a sandwich in this episode, but fortunately get sidetracked into whether a chicken patty is a burger or a sandwich, and then start remembering chip butties fondly, we discuss “the bits” of fries/chips, and Chris informs us about “a fly cuppie and a fine piece.” We avoid getting into a jam about jelly (reserving it for a future episode).
Welcome to tea or not! A podcast in which we…never mind. This episode, we discuss a cuppa, a fly cup, broken orange pekoe, tea bags, tea with toasted brown rice, and what is absolutely not tea. Bonus content at the end.
A flat white isn’t just a boring person who frequents Starbucks, but a drink invented in New Zealand. Fortunately, we have a Kiwi on this episode to talk about that and other coffee we drink out in the best of times (and, in New Zealand, right now) and we make at home. We add sugar and milk to flat white, americano, mocha (pronounced both ways), Nespresso, and cowboy coffee, among other caffeinated topics.
Broil, broil, toil, and trouble, cooktop flame and grill bubble! On this episode, panelists talk around the hob about knobs, grill each other over flames, and do not, I repeat, do not put another shrimp on the barbie. Barbecue is meat. Unless it’s a kind of cookout.
In this first episode of the fifth series of Pants in the Boot, our panelists turn on the tap and fill their kettle—or is it a pot, pan, or jug?—with cold, clear water, before boiling it. We debate voltage. Also, Jean reveals her regifting habit.
Oof, it’s been a long day of eating, but it’s finally time for dinner, whether we consume it at 5:30 p.m. with children or midnight in Barcelona. Panelists discuss what they eat on what surface and when, and discover all of them grew up eating their evening meal together with their family. This is the last episode in this meals series. Join us again soon for a new series with new set of culture and words.
Here’s one in which our British compadres have Americans (and most Canadians) beat hands down: tea! While our feckless host admits he thought high tea was an invention, English and Scottish panelist explain tea, afternoon tea, and high tea, and ask the butler to bring more scones.
We’ve finished off a mid-morning snack and elevenses, and it appears to be time for lunch. Our UK, Canadian, and American panelists talk about the sandwich as holy center of lunch, but wouldn’t something deep fried be nice, too? Or a burrito?
“The Holy Lunching Friars of Voondon claimed that just as lunch was at the center of a man’s temporal day, and man’s temporal day could be seen as an analogy for his spiritual life, so lunch should be seen as the centre of a man’s spiritual life, and be held in jolly nice restaurants.”—Douglas Adams,
The most important meal of the day is breakfast. And we seem to agree on that. We might call it “brekkie,” though we usually do not, but it is the least contentiously named meal. Panelists discuss cereal, stacks of things, the breakfast burrito, the American diner, and stay through to brunch, a no longer uniquely American invention.
As mentioned on this episode, you can find Antony “Anthony Johnson” Johnston’s Joe Shelter series here.
In this first episode of Pants in the Boot Series 4, we talk about how we identify different times of the day during which we eat named meals. Is it elevenses, dinner, supper, tea, or something altogether different? At least we agree on breakfast. I think.
Primary school, grammar school, magnet school, comprehensive, college, university, faculty, and more. Our global English-speaking brains are abuzz as we try to comprehend exactly how each part of the world describes (and charges for) the institutions that educate children and young adults.
In an inevitable episode in this series, we talk obscenity. Those of faint constitutions should avoid getting their knickers in a twist as panelists from Scotland, Australia, and the U.S. of A. discuss varying attitudes about the f word, the c word, the t word, and a lot of other words we can’t readily list in this description. We dive deep into what constitutes offensive words, too.
Usually, we’re explaining English to each other. This time, US panelists are desperate to understand the largely UK art of panto, a kind of stylized broad style of show, popular around Christmas, full of stereotypes and archetypes, risqué and beloved by children and adults.
If you wear fancy dress in the US or the UK, you might show up in tails. However, in the former, that would be a tuxedo and the latter, potentially the back half of a horse costume. Our panelists for this and the next stretch of episodes dig into what to wear and what not to wear, including the lack of a modern code for mourning dress.
American panelists finally hear the difference between ma’am and mum when referring to, for instance, the bloody Queen of England! Yes, we talk mom, mom, and mum; aunt and aunt; and the names we call our grandparents in various regions.
The North Americans challenge their UK panelists to please, please, please explain what lemonade means, since it’s not “lemons, sugar, and water.” The answer will surprise you. But then we discover ginger as a generic. It’s all sweet fizzy water with fake lemon (or Lymon) in the end.
We’re all lumberjacks and we’re okay, we chop down words, and we read dictionar—ies! Panelists get to the bottom of suspenders and braces, and James explains how he used to visualize Wall Street financial wizards. All we can say is, honi soit qui mal y pants.
We thought the difference between a truck and a lorry wouldn’t be a bumpy road. But when we get into it, we find a trash fire, Dumpster trademarks, and a confusion over caravans, and ultimately articulate the differences.
Panelists try to avoid getting their knickers in a twist while discussing the disparate—sometimes obscene—meanings of words that address the back of our front: fanny, butt, bum, ass, and arse.
What about a boot? We put our pants in the trunk, but we put our trousers in the boot? Panelists find themselves questioning whether they know the front of the car from the back. Hood a trunk it!
Who wears short shorts? We wear short shorts—if we’re Americans at least. It’s in the title of the show, but the confusion between pants and trousers makes for many an embarrassed trans-Atlantic story. We also delve into briefs, boxers, short, short pants, and more.
An extra syllable? A missing syllable? Are you out of your ever-loving minium? While it’s hardly a debate, panelists say it’s elementary as they discuss the difference between aluminum and aluminium. And the fetishism many Americans have for Jony Ive saying the UK version of that word.
When is a chip a chip and when is it a chip? In this episode, we stare down the pare down of cutting, shredding, crushing, and extruding potatoes into the many forms in which they are consumed. One conclusion? While the British love their chips, Americans seem to like fried potatoes in a much larger variety of formats.
Panelists bicker over biccies in our inaugural episode. Both America and the UK have biscuits and cookies, but they aren’t the same thing. Except sometimes they are. Sometimes it’s even settled legally and taxed accordingly!
Thanks to the literally incomparable Chris Breen for the show’s theme music.