An Englishman’s Blog from America – Happy Holidays & Breakages that Occur to Old Men

Happy Holidays.
One thing I can never get used to in America is their strange aversion to calling Christmas by its real name. Happy Christmas.

Xmas Decorations - very Ironic

Xmas Decorations – very Ironic

As I have commented on before, the incidence of church going in this fine country is enormously different to the UK. There are more Christian churches within 3 miles of our house than in the whole of most counties in England. One of these days I am going to do a survey of churches in the area, but I still haven’t summoned up enough courage to blog on that subject yet.
My very knowledgeable son tells me this strange behavior is due to “the separation of church from state”. Apparently the constitution mandates that there is no governmental acknowledgment that we have just celebrated a day on which the majority of the population think that their God’s son was born.
Most people in the US don’t say Merry Xmas, and there is no Boxing Day holiday the day after. Strange though it might seem, in America there is no celebration of the day when the upper classes in England used to give their servants their annual present. Somehow, that tradition got lost during the American Revolution.

We started our holiday with a trip into the mountains. One of the key benefits of living in Denver is that the trip from our house to the car park by the ski lifts at Breckenridge took less than two hours. The other benefit, particularly to a poor skier like me, is that the slopes are wonderful. The pistes are wide, the snow is lovely, and there is no ice to scare me to death.
I mean that there is no ice on the slopes, obviously there is always far too much ice in the drinks.

Expert Skiers

Expert Skiers

As a very poor skier, this is the place to practice falling over. When this happens in the Alps, the snow boarders spray snow in your face, and the kids use you as a ski jump. In America, when the inevitable happens to me the whole slope stops, and several people try and help you up. And they don’t even push in at the lifts.

However, the highlight of my Xmas was not my visit to the Emergency Ward.
Now let’s be clear, arriving at ER at 5 past midnight on Xmas morning in the UK would be an exercise in painful patience, as one waited for 3 or 4 hours for the drunks to be processed. I was processed and in a bed within 10 minutes.
I will skate over the procedure to return my arm into the proper configuration, but put it this way, I was a lot more sober than my wife by the time they got my shoulder back in one piece. The only delay, was waiting for them to wheel over the portable x-ray device over, and develop the pictures. Twice, without even moving me. The whole process took two hours, and everyone was very pleasant, and extremely professional.
The only problem was finding dear Heather as she wandered around the hospital, so she could pay for our part of the costs. We have an excellent insurance policy, one of the best money can buy, but we still had to process a credit card charge for $250 before they would let me out. The insurance company will have paid over $2,000.
My feelings about this issue are a bit complicated, who would wish they had waited 4 hours instead of 10 minutes? But with the issue of “Obama care” in the news every day, I keep asking the same question….what happens to the 44 million Americans who don’t have health insurance cover?

An Old Man

An Old Man

But I have an admission to make. I didn’t injure myself on the ski slopes, I fell over in my neighbours’ garden while staggering home from a few drinks.
I have promised not to sue the neighbours, that probably proves I have little chance of turning into an American.

However, I did fall off the first ski lift we got on.

Happy holidays. Despite being an old man with only one working arm, I had a great Xmas with family and friends.

We are all looking forward to our second calendar year in the America, it is a fascinating country, with lovely people, but really quite different.

An Englishman’s Blog – Life in the US – on being a Road Warrior

Great excitement tonight as I check in to yet another American hotel. Because today I am….wait for it……the Marriott Houston North “Guest of the Day”. I eagerly ask the nice lady on the desk if the prize is a lovely bottle of wine. She smiles……I have won an “amenity”, which is in my room, which now has a super executive bed, presumably approximately the size of a small European country.

I open the door, and there is the ice bucket, one glass chilling. And a bottle of water and a bag of nuts. Life on the road is a series of disappointments. I have shared my room with cockroaches, caught scabies, and struggled to find the bathroom in the middle of the night many many times. A continuous roll call of different hotels is no place for a man with a dodgy prostate like mine.

The Prize

The Prize

Selling in America is different, a respected profession, unlike in Europe. I always used to ask new salesmen what they answered to the most boring of pub questions “what do you do for a living?” In summary, in Europe, I would tell them that if you want to pull, never say you are a salesman.

Selling is a dirty word in the UK, but in the US there is real pride in being a Road Warrior.

As I have perhaps said before, the key thing to understand about America is that it is vast. Flying coast to coast takes over 5 hours. From my home in Oxford I can drive to anywhere in England in far less, well anywhere you would want to go on business. Customer visits in the UK might mean an overnight stay, but in America you have to arrange several adjacent meetings, or else the time spent travelling and the costs involved make it all too prohibitive.

The Oldest Restaurant in Colorado

The Oldest Restaurant in Colorado

But being on the road every other week has its frustrations, and you certainly have to have a calm disposition. You rely on certain routines and methods. And queuing.
For those who know me well, this will have produced a snort of derision. Ward and patient queuing, what a laugh.

But business travel is a series of quiet bits between queues. I have even had to change my age old passion for being the last one on board the plane. My reasoning has always been simple, why sit in an uncomfortable seat when you can be nice & relaxed in the airport bar? My long suffering wife will recall when I have got this slightly wrong…….”last call for Mr & Mrs Ward”. But my line is simple, “they have our bags, they won’t take off without us”.

However, in America you are forced to try and get on first. The problem lies in getting all your travel needs in to a suitcase which you can “carry on”. But most of these aircraft do not have enough overhead locker space, a major design fault you might say, and so you fight to get on as early as possible. My excitement last month was gaining “silver status” on United, which meant I can now jump the queue, and board in group 2, only slightly behind the weak, the sick, and the very blessed.

No longer for me the humiliation of the dreaded “gate check”, as my bag is dragged off me and put in the hold. I am now a true Road Warrior.
There are other rules of the road. I never put anything in a drawer, this limits the opportunity for an old man to leave things behind.
And I print out all essential bookings, there will be an argument or a mistake at some stage of every trip. Last week it was my side kick Vrinder who booked rooms for both of us, but managed to book for a week later. Paper still works best, it saved us being ejected from the Sheraton.
Lots of people use boarding passes on their iPhones, but the first time I saw one rejected I knew this development isn’t for me. No point in queuing at security to only have to go back to queue at the check in kiosk and then re-enter security. I know best, I am a Road Warrior.

The Star Spangled Banner - Sung before every Sports Game

The Star Spangled Banner – Sung before every Sports Game

But things do go wrong. Last month in Michigan, I keyed Detroit airport into Apple Maps on the iPhone, and the nice man guided me along politely. I was cruising, I had plenty of time, it had only taken me an hour to get to the hotel the previous day. But with Sat Nav (sorry GPS), you just don’t pay attention to your route like we did in the good old days of maps.
After 50 minutes I noticed that I was driving into a poorer area. The houses were literally falling down, in fact many were ruins. With the financial collapse of Detroit, many houses are worthless, and areas have been deserted, and I now found myself in such an area. And one thing I know, American airports are NEVER in poor run down areas. I locked the car doors.
Pulling off the road into an abandoned gas station I checked the man on the phone. Yes, he was sending me to the wrong airport, in fact it appears that this had also been abandoned.
So back to good old Google maps, and a very hairy drive back in the opposite direction meant I caught the flight by minutes. Don’t do business travel if you are easily stressed.
I have now visited 24 states of the Union in the last 18 months, and the differences are amazing to a foreigner. The accents are very different, the ethnic mix can be very different, and the politics veers, but are always right of what Europe calls center (sorry centre).

Sunset in Colorado

Sunset in Colorado

In Colorado cars stop to let you cross the road, in New York or Washington DC, they will speed up to try and scare you out of their way.
In Texas everything is big and loud, but in Seattle they are probably the most quiet and polite people you can meet.
But above all else I am continuously struck by the way they greet me. They all love the English.
The stereo-typical conversation yesterday was about wanting to meet Prince Harry, they are obsessed by the Royal Family. I didn’t laugh, she seemed like such a nice lady.

So my life as a Road Warrior is always lively. I dress in a white shirt, and dark suit, every bit the English gentleman. Please don’t laugh, it works.
And I try and survive the life of a Road Warrior. My record trip was 12 days, 8 hotels, 6 airports, 8 states and 4 different rental cars. I have met many interesting people, but I am obsessed with stupid things, like collecting hotel and airline points that I will never spend.

The most ridiculous thing I have done? Probably booking a flight for the evening rather than the morning.
In my defense, please bear in mind that America has a very strange fixation with the old 12 hour clock. The only people here who use the 24 hour clock are the military, and they use it for a reason, it is more reliable. Even I couldn’t possibly get 9.00 and 21.00 confused.
And so I would rather be at home, or down the pub. Or spending time with my family. But I am a Road warrior, a very old Road Warrior, but I am pretty good at it.
Can I lie down now please nurse?

Another day another city

Another day another city

Education & Cars – in America

IMG_1647

Please don’t tell my wife, but I’ve dented the car.
The good news is that I never ever wash any of my cars, in the UK they only ever turned up clean on two occasions. Firstly after a service at the BMW garage, or alternatively when using valet parking at Heathrow airport. But now in America I don’t have a BMW, I have a Subaru, the only company that would give me credit, and lets face facts, they are not going to give me a free car wash. And the Audi with 140,000 miles on the clock is such an odd colour that is deserves to be dirty. Funny that it is this one that I always end up driving.
So the Suburu has 6 months of dirt on it, after two road trips you can’t really see what colour it is either, I think that perhaps she won’t notice the dent.
The weather has been bizarre in Denver these last few weeks of April, although the locals say this is normal for Spring. Last Monday I went to work in my shorts, at noon it was 60F, with lovely blue skies. But at 4pm it started snowing, the temperature had dropped by 30 degrees in 4 hours. Lots of strange people here do wear shorts at this temperature, but I just felt like a fool. A cold fool.IMG_1620
The boys are doing very well at school, it took some time for them to settle down, but they are now well entrenched in the US education system and can comment on the differences. Needless to say, Jake at 17 is quite vociferous, but having achieved 103% in his World History, he can probably comment from a position of strength.
I have degree in Maths (sorry Math), and in my day to get 100% you had to get all the answers right, even in a multiple guess exam. And to be honest, in my school days I wasn’t going to worry anyone with regard to getting too close to those kind of numbers. Luckily, Jake doesn’t take after either of his parents in his attitude to study, he works very hard, so I ask him “how do you get 103 out of 100?” The answer lies in a bizarre marking scheme which means that work is continuously assessed by the teachers, and they award extra marks when they see fit.
Yep he’s smart, he works hard, and they like him. I hope he grows up wanting to support his father in his ill funded dotage, perhaps I need to be nicer to him while there is still time.
Jake was very frustrated initially because the US school system wouldn’t recognize his UK achievements, but now a 35 out of 36 in his ACT has gained him recognition, and has put a smile on his face. He deserves what he gets, but unfortunately he now thinks that going to Harvard might be a good idea. With fees of $85k per year.
IMG_1616Ben at 12 is much more cautious about broadcasting his achievements. Last week a fantastic report arrived from the school on his work so far, and his mother then chose to ask him about the Honor Roll. This is a strange, but very common occurrence across America, I see bumper stickers all the while boasting about children’s achievements and cringe.
Anyway, it then becomes clear that Ben has been on the Honor Roll for some time, and has been given bumper stickers, but was so embarrassed that he hadn’t told us. Furthermore he had cut them up, re-arranging the letters into interesting anagrams far removed from the original intended sentiment.
His mother doesn’t know whether to be proud or to tell him off. She jokes that she wants the next one to put on the car.
And then I realize that this might just save me, I could use one to cover the dent on the bumper. The problem is I need two stickers, yes, I dented both cars. All I can say in my defense is that I have never had a working garage before. In 38 years of house owning, it is not something that has ever troubled me, why would you need a garage? But in this part of the US, everyone has two car garages, some have three car garages.
So without checking, I backed one car out of the garage into the other which was sat on the drive. I, one of the 2 people in our street that has actually taken a test that ensures you can drive safely.
Now I must go and search Ben’s room for a bumper sticker or 2. Proud, that’s me.

The Road Trip – an American Institution

When I think of road trips, I drift back to National Lampoon’s Vacation.
We weren’t going to Disney (they called it Walleyworld), and we certainly didn’t have a dead grannie. We didn’t even have a dog tied to the back fender (bumper), and Ben refused to lie still when we tried to tie him to the roof.
Last week it was Spring Break. If you are following my love affair about this fine country, you will know that I have a thing about the American obsession with religion. I have always been taught that Easter was the biggest Christian festival, but everyone worked on Good Friday.
Good Friday?
And we didn’t do an Easter holiday, we had a Spring Break.
We had a pair of lovely friends over from the UK, so we borrowed a car with 3 rows of seats, and got out on a Road Trip to New Mexico. Yep, three rows of seats, this was a real road trip.IMG_1273
Unfortunately, my memories at this point go back to my youth. Camping in Europe was not common in those days, but that’s what my parents made me do. We would drive to obscure European countries, and camp. I know a lot of my friends don’t believe it, but yes, we camped.
And the following morning we would pack up, and put the whole thing on top of our Austin Cambridge. But on one occasion my Dad got it wrong, and once we were doing a fine lick on the autobahn, it all shot off the back. No deaths, but a lot of tears.
There is a reason I don’t do camping any more, and it isn’t just that I found that there are things called Hotels.
So, off we went, and there were strict instructions on the packing, one small bag each. This is a bit of a problem for Ben who can get through two pairs of dodgy coloured trousers in a day, but I explained he had a choice. He chose the seat in doors that his bag would have occupied, which made it easier; as I said, I never feel happy strapping things to the roof.
Santa Fe is 400 miles due south from us, not a difficult route, the interstate freeway is a mile from our house, and once on the I25, unlike the M25 in England, you are moving at a good rate. And it is straight, on occasions it is dead straight for 20 miles, and it goes all the way to Santa Fe.IMG_1280
So, 6 hours later we are in the coolest, most laid back part of America. These guys can’t be bothered to go to California, where us Brits think the mother of cool sits, they stay in New Mexico and they really chill. The only thing that stops the chill is the prices in the shops, jeans for $300, “native Indian” sweaters for $400, this place is where rich cool people go. The lady in the shop in the old jail building told me Julia Roberts lived up the street, and “don’t miss the café next door where they filmed a Clint Eastwood movie”.
We visited rocks, we walked around a lot, and then we got to the Indian cliff dwellings. I loved this bit, a genuine Indian guide, and jewelry even I could afford.
The best thing was wandering around the caves the Indians lived in 500 years ago, and then we got to the cave paintings. Now I can’t lie, this story isn’t mine. Our dear friends Denise and Tucker went there with their bright 13 year old, and the guide got everyone very excited by the fine drawings of hands on the walls. Abi then pronounced her profound dismay that whist Michelangelo was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the Americans were drawing “turkey hands”.
My family complain on these trips, not about the distances, but about the picture stops, but there was one stop I had to make. In every country they have warnings about the animals that are going to charge across and ruin your car (apart from the deer that got me in Oxfordshire). So as we drove on the roads around Taos in Northern New Mexico, there were arguments. I did agree that the pictures of cows crossing did look peculiar, what was that strange thing over their heads?
Not a sombrero as Heather suggested, but instead a flying saucer – the locals are peddling a story that aliens are coming down and abusing their cattle. Forget crop circles, these guys have a conspiracy theory that has some action going on, and presumably it all helps with the tourism, bearing in mind Roswell is just down the road.
So we headed back through the mountains at 85mph without any police interference, and I do have to admit that this still gives me a strange thrill. In 1978 I was driving in New England, when I got pulled over by a policeman for doing something absurd like 70 in a 65 limit. I still remember the fear I felt as he strode up to my hire car with his gun vibrating in his holster. And then he gave me a ticket, and the bizarre thing in those times, he trusted me to go down to County Hall and pay it. Ha, the fools.
However, I paid a high price for my crime, spending nervous hours worrying as I stood in the huge queues at JFK, wondering which jail they were going to put me in.
Road trips, fantastic, but only in America. You can get to a different land in 6 hours, in the UK, you are still on the M25. Please try it, they are something very special.

Blog – Staying Healthy and Playing with a Bishop

The good news is that the Doctor said I was fairly healthy, the bad news is that he said I had the “English Disease”.

No, not that disease, my new American doctor says we English all have a vitamin D deficiency.

My first introduction to the US Health system started a month ago.  If you are not aware, the American nation spends twice as much per person on Healthcare as the UK, or France, Germany or Sweden.  But the system in the US is very different to the UK, with the majority of cover here being private, as opposed to being funded out of taxes in the UK.  There is a complex set of partial “safety nets”, but it is estimated that 16% of the population have no cover at all.

Male life expectancy on average in the US is 4 years less than in the rest of the high income countries in the Western World.  A combination of bad lifestyle, and a huge gap in the availability of proper health care to the poor.  Most observers reckon that the US is now the only “developed” nation that doesn’t offer universal healthcare, and there certainly isn’t a majority interest in fixing this problem as Mr Obama has discovered.

But I guess I have to be happy that we have taken out a top of the range health care policy.  Dr Igor has a lovely bedside manner, and a strong Czech accent.  We swapped Prague drinking stories, and he told me my liver was fine, great news, I will have to drink to that later.  Off to a fake Irish pub to celebrate St Patricks Day, something they obsess about around here.

Dr Igor asked when I had last had a health check, the answer of course was “never, we just don’t do that in the UK”.  He then gave a thorough examination, including checking my prostate.  Ummm.  And then he told me what he was going to do for me….8 blood tests, a scan of my kidneys and bladder, and a colonoscopy.  Back a month later, and he decided my cholesterol levels were high, and with absolutely no discussion of my diet, I have magic statin pills.

My blood pressure was slightly raised, I tried to explain it might have something to do with the internal examination he had just done.  But, hey, another pill for my blood pressure.

So what does all of that tell me?

I am obviously delighted to have been put through such a thorough check up.  And I loved the good doctor, great sense of humour, even with his finger inserted in sensitive areas.  But how much of this is necessary, and the cost of it all is unbelievable.  We have the best of schemes, but we still co-pay, up to a maximum of $2k per annum.  Each prescription cost me between $10 and $70, there is a charge for everything, mostly covered by the insurance, but every price to my mind is over inflated.

Vrinder and Mandeep, our dear colleagues had their lovely baby out here, the charge to the insurance company was over $20k.

The American nation is a great and prosperous place.  We love most aspects of our life here, but the population are being ripped off big time by the Health sector, paying twice as much per head, and yet not, as a nation, getting the proper return.  The well off do pretty well in the system, but bad exercise and diet for large swathes of the nation, and a huge underclass who can’t afford to be sick, paint a bad picture.

And to prove I am healthy, I have been playing tennis twice a week.  Unfortunately the only people who will play with me on a regular basis are the old age pensioners, an interesting bunch.  This week I was partnering the Bishop of Denver who has his eye on me, he wants to convert me to the ways of  the Lord.  I would have been more co-operative, but his belief didn’t save us from being embarrassed by a bloke who took his heart pills between games, and an 81 year old.

The Bishop then told me he had used me as an example in his sermon at Denver Cathedral last Sunday.  I was the English non believer, part of the 95% of Brits who walk on the dark side.  He says he will give me the CD when it is available this week.

A strange week, with lots of bashing from a doctor and a bishop.  Only in America.

Life at a Mile High – America and Consumerism

One of the biggest changes in the life style in America, by comparison with the UK, is the rampant consumerism.  Planning is a bit more under control in Colorado, in most American states strip malls are everywhere, whereas here there are just shopping centres every 10 miles or so.

But I have to admit I have occasionally succumbed to the shopping bug that runs at full pelt in this country.  I wandered in to my favourite shirt shop, Lucky Brands at Park Meadows, a long 10 minute drive away, and purchased a most lovely shirt.  Getting back home, I showed it to Heather, and told her how great I thought it was.  Yep, she said, it is exactly the same as one in your closet (actually she said wardrobe).  What an idiot.

IMG_0807It is astoundingly dry here, static is an issue at a mile high, not what my dear English friends want to hear, but the weather here is fantastic.  We have had 4 weeks at below zero, but for the last few days it has reached 20 degrees C.  Strange lumps of snow linger in the corners of the garden, and fountains are still partially frozen, I guess that shows how deep the freeze was.  But most of the time the sun shone, so it didn’t feel so bad, and it just never rains, amazingly in 4 months here it has only rained once (for less than 10 minutes).

The climate plays terrible tricks in other ways.  I bought a Xmas tree the first weekend of December, Ben was feeling down, so we went and bought it to cheer him up.  But within 2 weeks it was dead, dried out, kaput.  We had an artificial tree for Xmas.

The Xmas lights round here were astounding, they competed for trophies in the local media.  The house over the road had two deer made out of lights on their front lawn, but one night someone mounted one on top of the grazing one.  We all laughed, but IMG_0797perhaps this is not in tune with the average middle America sense of humour.

Our pathetic attempt at lights was probably the joke of the street, but everyone is far too polite to comment.  But it did make us think of the Deddington tree again, yep, I learnt a lot of my decorating abilities from last year in the square.

Last weekend was our Jake’s 1IMG_08187th birthday, not one of the great events in a growing lad’s life, but one well worth celebrating.  Izzie bought him a lovely American flag based tie, the best the “thrift store” had to offer, and his mother and I helped him buy an amplifier so he can form a band, become a superstar, change the world and enable me to retire.  At last.

We had a busy birthday weekend, we had some Americans round, and some mad Aussies.  Good fun, and on Sunday we went up to see Red Rocks, a great concert venue, we look forward to seeing Justin Beiber in the summer.  And then on we went to The Fort, a local restaurant based on old western cuisine, but please bear in mind that old is 1860 around here, there was no-one here before that.

And the great news is that the birthday regime from Pizza Express in Banbury lives on, they banged a drum, the mad local bloke dressed as a “First Nation Citizen” produced the hat, and there was Jake in the Buffalo head being told………Gryffindor!

The clientele IMG_0819were instructed to join in 3 times….Hip Hip  Hazaa, but no-one can explain this strange choice of words.  The buffalo steaks were great, but a poor substitute for Ben who had set his heart on Rattlesnake only to find they are currently hibernating and therefore not for catching (or eating).

Who says culture doesn’t cross the globe.  Earlier in the weekend we had been subjected to 2 renditions of “Happy Bar Mitzvah to You” from an adjacent table.  And the local Synagogue is offering “Jew Chew” to the high school kids at lunch time.

So life here is all a bit of a shock.  Think I will have to do something about the nylon carpets and the “Joey” sofa, something you do have to see to believe, imagine a 7 piece corner piece with individual controlled progression from Economy to First Class, but how will I ever get it home to England?

Think I need to put a damper on the electric side of life.  At least that what Heather says.   Poor me.

Accents and other Things that are Different

I have a bad habit I need to confess to.

Well all right, I only have time for one today, but I need to get it off my chest.  I think my problem became very clear to Heather, my lovely wife, some 20 years ago when we went to meet with one of our clients, up in the North of England.  In Rochdale to be exact.

After lunch, the boss man took Heather to one side and said (I won’t do the accent), “if Mike continues to take the micky out of me, I am going to knock his block off”.  But I wasn’t taking the micky, it was just the first example Heather had experienced of my terrible problem.

When speaking to anyone with an accent, within minutes I will be attempting (but badly) to speak in the same lingo.  I wonder if there is some kind of 7 steps process that can help me.

To be serious for a moment, the key difference between the UK and the good old US of A is the attitude to guns.  Like most Europeans, I find the amount of gun deaths in America to be very disturbing.  The quoted figures of less than 50 in the UK, to over 11,000 in the US has to indicate that this is a key problem.  But, no matter how many times I try and discuss the issue with sane and grown up Americans, I simply don’t understand the huge commitment the majority have to owning a gun.  I am still working hard, but it is something deeply cultural.

If you haven’t seen it, go to YouTube and view some of the Piers Morgan interviews of the last few weeks.  Piers is a man that few us in Britain liked, and most were happy to see leave for the US to take up a nightly TV interview slot on CNN.  But he is has really come to life in my view, although not in the minds of most Americans, who have started a petition to have him deported.

On a show last week Piers interviewed a Larry Pratt, who looked perfectly normal, argued quite sanely, but when Morgan put the gun death numbers in front of him, he suddenly announced that the UK figures were rigged, and really there were 790 gun deaths a year in the UK.  The problem is that people believe these things.

Earlier in the week Piers interviewed an Alex Jones from the NRA (National Rifle Association), who foamed at the mouth, and with bulging eyes told Piers that he needed the guns to ensure that the UK didn’t invade again, invoking the American War of Independence.  Bizarre in the extreme to an outsider, but lots of people see him as a hero, people keep telling me they need more guns, not less.

Some of the differences about living in Colorado are a bit weird.  When Heather came to give me a kiss earlier, she gave me a shock.  I mean an electric shock.

Denver is a mile above sea level, and despite freezing cold temperatures on occasions, it is very dry.  The sun shines for over 300 days a year, and it has only rained once in 3 months, both of which make the freezing temperatures more palatable.  But the climate, and the wall to wall nylon carpets, creates static electricity like I have never seen before.

The lack of air also means my tennis is hopeless, the balls fly out, and even a short rally leaves me lying on the floor gasping for breath.  At the Broncos game this afternoon, some of the opposition footballers were given oxygen on the side lines to enable them to cope.

I needed a bit more than oxygen to cope, football is a great game, but after it went to extra time it took 4 ¼ hours for 1 ¼ hours of action.  Unreal, particularly at – 12 degrees C, 75,000 fans created a fantastic atmosphere, but they don’t have a roof.  It snowed.  And they lost in extra time.

And there were opposition fans in front of us who everyone chatted with, and they even survived the home team managing to lose a game they were 100 – 1 to win at one point.

Earlier in the day we took the boys to have some jabs, they have to have a huge number in order to be allowed to be in school.  The fire station where they were giving the inoculations was in a suburb called Aurora, much more of a mixed community than the enclave that is Greenwood Village.

Walking in to the temporary clinic, a couple of the locals greet me, calling out in support of my Broncos shirt, Go Broncos.

As I say, I have this terrible habit of copying the way people speak, honestly, I don’t mean to do it.

And now I can add Jive Talking to my failings, and my family thinks I am a rude and dangerous person.

Anyone know of a cure?