I think all I've done since I got here is ask Andrew questions.
Some are easy. How do I get to the cybercafe from here? I used to know Manchester only by the tram stops I used, but I'm getting better now. I know it's lame of me to be so excited about seeing how Piccadilly Gardens and Market Street and Victoria all fit together, but I was anyway.
Yesterday I finally got around to asking him why the license (or 'number' in the local vernacular) plates on cars are sometimes yellow and sometimes white, something I'd always wondered about. "They're white in the front and yellow in the back!" he said, and I felt really dumb. "Obviously!"
They are. I recovered and asked, "But why?" I thought that was a good question.
"So you can tell which end is the front and which is the back!" he said. So that's how I learned that British people need the fronts and backs of cars to be color-coded. Only I suppose it'd be colour-coded, wouldn't it?
Andrew's looking for new jobs, and one of them is in Salford, a place (a Manchester-ish place, but still its own separate thing, sorta) I've heard of because Andrew's told me he used to go to school there and sometimes when we're walking around he'll point at something and say "over there, that's Salford." Anyway, this time he said the job is in "Salford Keys." That's what it sounded like, anyway. But then I looked it up on my map, because I like to know where things are, and in the index the only thing I could find written after Salford was "Salford Quays."
So I asked him "Is Salford Keys spelled like Quays?"
"Yeah," he said. "But it's spelled like Keys!"
"No it isn't! Keys are spelled like keys! Like, what gets you into your house!"
"Sure," he said. "Next thing you'll be telling me that ... some thing that I think has to do with the word 'Oxford' [okay, so I can't remember what he said! sue me] isn't pronounced like 'keys' either!"
"How do you spell that?" I asked.
"C-A-I-U-S," he said.
"Caius!" I said. "The Roman name. You think that's 'keys'?!"
Also, there's a song that's invited the asking of many questions. It's one that miss_newham
put on her fantastically good CD of British music for me. I know I'd heard it before, because I remembered that I'd liked it, but I'd never been able to figure out what the guy was saying most of the time.
"Goats?" I asked once. He nodded. "Many
goats?" That's what it sounded like.
"Nanny goats!" he said. And I guessed that did make a little more sense.
"The whole thing makes sense!" Andrew said. "Like, Bantu Stephen Biko, he was [oh, I forgot this part again, he's some African guy who did cool things but then he died of cancer or something and that's not cool]. Listenin' to Rico, Rico was the trombone player for the Specials. Harpo Groucho Chico, I don't think I have to explain that to you." Sometimes he just has to tell me what the words are, when I can't decipher them, and sometimes he has to translate them into English, like "being in my nuddy," which, now that it makes sense, is a phrase I like.
But there's still so much I want to know, because there's still so much I don't know. I'm always working on it, though, as you can see.