Living in Downtown Salem

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A couple of Hallowe’ens ago here in Salem, I and my lovely roommate at the time were taking one of the husband’s ghost-hunting tours (yes…I know…but most people knew it was just a laugh). There was one portion that takes us down an alleyway off of Essex Street, past the side of the Essex apartments and around the back of the Lyceum restaurant (now called 62). The husband would sit perched on the edge of a stair railing that led into the back of City Hall and tell us a tale of a suspected famous Rhode Island vampire.

It was October, and the crowd was surprisingly plenty. I and our roommate had seen his tour a few times, so our nascent attention deficit could be explained by the fact that we were just girly, unsupportive, bored housemates with not much else to do that night. But when half of his tour group (who were closer to us) were also giggling and not paying attention, the husband couldn’t figure out why a normally hanging-on-his-every-word tour group was now showing the faltering attention span of a kitten with a ball of yarn.

I later explained to him that we saw Batman crouching on a nearby rooftop.

One of the many occasions in Salem when I wished I’d had a camera (especially on a ghost-hunting tour that specifically requests that you snap away with your flash). To this day, I wish I could capture the hilarious awkwardness of this intently-crouching, costumed figure, lit from behind by one of the street-lights, his stoic vigilant pose somewhat orphaned from the moment by some snickering tourists who could only stifle their giggles at the surrealism of it all. But I guess only words will have to do.

Our superhero said nothing, did nothing, and by the time we had turned to walk down another alleyway to come out the other side of City Hall on Washington Street, he was gone like a flimsy CVS carrier bag pirouetting with the night breeze, and we felt oddly safe from the strange man with the beard and long hair and top hat taking us down a dodgy-looking alleyway talking about vampires.

From my new flat, I can see those alleyways from here. I can see City Hall, I can see Essex Street, I can see all the way in the distance to the yucky power plant in the distance. So there is virtually no excuse for what I’m about to tell the husband today: “I just can’t be bothered to go out and do anything”.

It’s not terribly warm today, but I’ve had to keep the windows open all night. The sun blasts in through here and wakes me up on weekends at around 8.30am, which, considering I work at stupid hours throughout the week, is lovely, because it discourages me from staying up too late and screwing up my workweek sleep schedule (wow – I’m getting old). During the week in the morning I get to see the sunrise as I get ready. It’s a humbling sight (take that, double rainbow guy).

I can’t even begin to imagine the convenience this will bring during October. Downtown Salem is a relatively small area anyway, and I have always lived within a decent proximity of it. But I am truly loving the fact that if I have 3 pints and refuse to use the questionable ladies’ facilities at The Old Spot (particularly when they’re out of both soap and loo roll), I can make a crotch-grabbing dash back to my flat and perpetuate this obsessive-compulsive germ shelter. The husband joked that we should charge tourists to use the loo in the same way that greedy homeowners list their own parking spaces on Craigslist in October.

Living downtown also brings new meaning to the phrase “popping out”. I really can “pop out” to get some quarters for the washing machine (ugh) and then pop right back out again when I realise I’ve forgotten to buy some laundry detergent for the washing machine. And then pop back out again to pick up some mini quiches from the little organic greengrocer around the corner, and resist the urge to walk a little bit further and buy some Chipsticks and Cadbury’s from Pamplemousse. Saying, “I’m too tired” just doesn’t fly anymore. It’s all just so close!

Actually, having said that, there is a new excuse I could use:

“I can’t afford to go out today, because I pay for an apartment with this view.”

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Living in The Shining

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I knew this flat was old, but my GOD, it’s old. And not old in the adorably Victorian/Greek Revival/converted old-timey jail cells-type of way. This is the type of old that was once revived as a cool, hip throwback, but then fell by the wayside once the words “hip” and “throwback” became about as cool to say as “I’m with Nick Clegg”. 

Based on my late-teen bingeing of That 70s Show, I recognized the decor and kitchen/bathroom fittings as being on the more unfashionably-designed spectrum of that era. The kitchen cabinets were boring and many, and boasted the most appealing shade of cack. The fridge, once white, seemed to have had said cack shade seep into it at one point, and like the bitter, lonely faces of regret I see when I pass my fellow tenants in the building, it has given up in a pit of despair and will probably never change back to the glorious brilliance it once was.

The windows have a bit of a schoolhouse charm, although more Lowood than Eton. I enjoy being able to look out onto most of downtown Salem from my window, and watch the sunrise. It’s especially easy because there are no blinds or window screens, and almost certainly no curtains (net or otherwise).

There are about 10 plug outlets in the living room, so that you can plug in lamps for light instead of using that newfangled ceiling light malarkey. Almost certainly built before the novelty of track lighting or ceilings, this is ideal when I want to exercise my eyelids by squinting in the dark when I’m typing on a glaring computer screen. Which is all the time.

Carpet exists throughout, except the bathroom, which has the commode about two inches from the edge of the bathtub. Water comes out of the shower in four pounding jet streams, and takes the length of your time in there to reach an equitable temperature. It doesn’t matter how long of a shower you take, it will always take that long to get warm, just because it can.

The thermostat looks like the sort of decommissioned 1970s porn robot that you’d find in dated office buildings (i.e. everywhere in the civil service) and you can never tell when the hell it’s working (i.e. every single person working in the civil service). The fuse box is a series of steampunk-style mini levers in a combination safe-type interface that make me feel like I’m playing Lego Bank Teller. In the ’70s.

The hallway from the kitchen/living room combo to the bathroom is lined with a series of closets with doors so dated even my mum wants to take a sledgehammer to hers.

I’ve actually had to go and plug in the fridge today, after realising that the Italian-style meat substitute I’d kept in the fridge for the past few days was warm and squidgy.

Fearing that my cheese, dairy smoothies, chocolate pudding and yoghurt would go the same way as the warm and squidgy meat (shut up), I actually called the emergency line where a bitchy cow told me, as if I were to expect this somehow, that the fridge had to actually be plugged into an electrical socket. I really can’t remember having to do this with any of the places I’ve stayed in out here, and I don’t know anyone else who’d had to either. Unless you bought a brand new fucking fridge!

The property manager said outright that I could do whatever I wanted with the place – repaint, put up wallpaper, buy a new fridge, tear up the carpets – whatever I wanted. I have a year lease, so I’m pretty much stuck in this Life on Mars cafeteria flat, and any improvements I make will probably bump up the rent income for this guy.

I bought a stainless steel microwave online today. I’m praying that, despite its modernity, it won’t be rejected by the putrefying retrograde that is everything in sight.

A Guide to Renting an Apartment in Massachusetts

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Ooh, dear. This is not a short topic. But for me, renting an apartment in Salem was bad enough. Renting it for the first time and in another country while having a job at the same time was even more difficult. Throw in a husband with bad credit and three cats, then you’re either going to have to give up a few of those things or stay in perpetual “saving up to buy a house” mode, the latter of which I thought was only reserved for multiple dog owners who idolise the Duggar family.

The process of renting in the first place over here is ridiculous. Even in London, things are typically done by the week. So if landlords are greedy enough to expect you to fork over first, last AND security, at least it’s only 3 weeks’ worth. Here? It’s 3 MONTHS’ worth. And don’t forget the application fee for real estate agents, the rental fee for real estate agents, pet rent, pet security deposit, cleaning fees and anything else they feel like charging for. No bed of roses in the UK (plenty of cheap bastard horror stories of letting agencies from my landlord and tenant friends), but here, the idea of saving up to rent (not buy) seems utterly ridiculous.

If you’ve not saved up beforehand, there’s truly no point in looking until you’ve a) figured out your maximum price range for monthly rent and b) already saved up at least 3-4 times your maximum price range for monthly rent. You might find the place of your dreams during the slower winter renting season, but there are plenty of monied vultures who are perfectly willing and able to eBay-snipe that perfect apartment from you before you have a chance to fill out an application.

Average rent in Salem is $1,200 per month. This does NOT include utilities, which are likely to be as follows:

  • Gas: $300 in winter; $50 in the summer; add on an extra $100 per month if you are lucky enough to be blessed with an in-unit washing machine (a student scummy flat standard in the UK)
  • Electric: $60 in the winter; $120+ in the summer if you have an air conditioner. If you don’t have an air conditioner, you’ll most likely melt into a puddle, but this being Salem, no-one will notice. You’ll fit right in.

As Massachusetts has a high rent, if this existed here, it would probably cost at least $50,000 per month, plus sexual favours and your grandparents' souls.

If you want to be downtown, you’re more likely to be paying $1600+ for a tiny one-bedroom overlooking a filthy alleyway, but with modern plumbing and windows that actually seal in heat. If you’d rather stay near the “water” (a manufactured wharf area that looks more like reclaimed, Port Solent-type yuppie hobby train scenery), pay around $1300. Stay near the university and your prices go lower. Stay in The Point – the “dodgy” neighbourhood (i.e. less white people) and the rent averages drop even lower.

Most realtors will try to show you places all over town. You might say “downtown” and expect to be off the Commons, but in reality, you’ll be told that the apartment you specifically called about wasn’t available, but you can see a hopeless bunch of low-ceilinged, drafy, smelly buildings with outdated windows and porches that are most likely unsafe to stand on, breathe on or look at.

A few things to look out for:

  • Check that every room has a door. Might sound ridiculous, but you’d be surprised how many apartments have not one door in the whole place. Even the bathroom.
  • Make sure the “second bedroom” is actually big enough to be a bedroom, is not solely accessible through the master bedroom (rendering it useless), and, again, has a door.
  • Check for windows. Any windows. And the placement of said windows. Several flats here tend to have an entire wall of windows in a living room with a view of the building three feet away. If you’re unfortunate enough to sign a lease for a place that gets zero sunlight, it’s likely that your electric bills will be large from leaving the lights on constantly, and you will constantly be late for work by oversleeping. But you can console yourself by pretending that you are starring in 127 Hours whenever the faintest sliver of sunlight comes your way.
  • Ensure that the apartment has a living room, instead of a Funhouse-type hallway that revolves around a giant pillar, against which you could probably wedge in a child’s futon and pass it off as hip Liliputian lounge furniture.
  • Cat poo on the floor of the bathroom means it’s a comforting and homey-enough place that an animal will feel at home. This is why a real estate agent would simply leave it there to be discovered/stepped on by prospective tenants instead of cleaning it up.
  • If you find said cat hiding inside a wall behind a kitchen cabinet, this literally adds character to an already family-centric, home-y atmosphere.
  • If you’re not big on cooking rice, pasta, or anything that requires boiling, heating or simmering, an electric hob/stove is a great idea for a decorative piece. Many “renovated” flats come with this as standard, because simply no-one cooks anymore.
  • Bear in mind that if an apartment has a ton of outlets/wall plugs, it means there are virtually no ceiling lights (those modern fangled things) and you will actually have to plug in a plethora of lamps before you will be able to see any of the nasty fine print on your lease.

These were all actual things I encountered in the past few months.

I had to start off small. Staying with a friend to save money was a huge help. I now live in a rather dated-looking flat that includes gas, air-conditioning and boasts a brilliant view of the city. It’s a year-lease, but as a temp I have excellent job security and an unparalleled salary.

Trolling Craigslist for ads is sadly the best resource, even if you are trying to avoid real estate agents, mostly because they are capable of neither spelling nor subtlety, and seem to format each of their listings like an OCD, amateur transvestite’s lonely hearts Myspace page.

The “apts by owner” section is ideal, but for unsupecting, non-credit-building nonces like me as well as scamming, thieving slumlords. The plus side is that these people are typically too lazy to have actual jobs, so the longer that flat stays empty, the less money they have to buy Bud Light, blow-up dolls and disco biscuits, so they’re rather desperate to unload (heh) their festering pit of a property before you have the chance to figure out what was wrong with it before you signed the lease.

When Resentment Sets In

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Being an immigrant here (or anywhere) means you are, for all intents and purposes, new.  A nicely new, freshly-minted, naively-optimistic imbecile. Like a baby, but the birth canal is USCIS.

When you’re new, you’re generally given a grace period for making mistakes, looking stupid and general ignorance. It’s a bit comforting, sort of like having a mummy or a nice teacher that you accidentally call “Mummy”. Once that grace period expires though, you are swiftly relegated to lower than low in the pecking order of general human existence.

It’s a bit of a culture shock. Imagine trying to get anything immigration-related organized before you leave your country of origin. Here’s how this might go:

You: Hi there, I am am an impending immigrant currently in the UK. I’d like to rent one of your flats you listed online. I can even send you the security deposit upfront via Western Union to prove I’m legit. Email me back as I don’t have a US number, US address or any financial/personal references in the US. Bye!

Real Estate Agent: ….

You might think you sound legit by avoiding any spelling errors or reference to any titles you might hold (even this), but you might as well say you are a seeking a beneficiary for the Royal Family of Nigeria or hiring a mystery shopper to only work at Western Union.

The same thing happens with jobs. You will not be able to secure one on your own, because no-one can check your foreign references/work history. Instead, you will be a temp but have that dangling carrot of a permanent job with benefits to lead you foolishly into more and more work. Increased workload, zero rewards. The good news today was the fact that my temp contract was extended (rather than me being made permanent, so I can get said apartment). What would be BAD news, then? Getting fired? Good fucking luck, because I do the job of (as of this month), FOUR people. Yet I get paid a third of one of those people’s salaries. Again: low on the pecking order.

This morning, I was stuck in this permanently freezing cold house (where I can see my breath and my feet and hands go numb if not covered in 2-3 layers…in the DAY) for 3 hours longer than usual. This was due to work-related tech issues, and I had to sit there on standby so I could complete my morning distribution. 3 extra hours in that miserably chilly, damp, motivation-killing igloo. This happened two days earlier, too.

I have to file some fairly important immigration paperwork next week. Because I’m a temp, I didn’t get paid for the January 2nd holiday, and I didn’t get paid for the two weeks I was off, either. Meaning I go two whole weeks of working without getting paid, but I still have rent (albeit minimal) and transport costs to meet. Because my paycheck will be smaller than usual, I have to use almost all of it to pay the costs of said paperwork, leaving me with maybe $20-30 for the whole week. Fun!

On top of that, I still have to save first/last/security for this apartment I may end up taking out of desperation, and that involves almost 8 straight weeks of not buying any food, and just spending money on rent and transport. As unrealistic as that is, it’s more likely going to be 12 weeks rather than 8. Which sort of puts the ki-bosh on my hopes to fly home for a few days around Easter.

And once I can afford the move-in costs for said place, rent would end up being over 40% of my income. Before tax. And before utilities. It’s supposed to be 25%.

My roommate didn’t quite sympathise, and politely advised me to stop being negative, remarking somewhat facetiously that “life is hard”.

Well, it is! I guess not from where she’s standing, though.

Time for a table:

Her

Me

Owns her own property (possibly with parental assistance) Saving up to rent (a fallacy in itself) (over three times that of a mortgage payment) without parental help
Owns a car Has to walk in rainstorms/dry heat/snow/etc
Like most people, isn’t tied to living in a particular area (also due to having a car) Must live within a 15-min walk from the train, because my morning work process is on a tight schedule, micromanaged to the minute by existing processes/deadlines (6-8am), and I have to catch the express train to be at my desk by 9am. So I need to be able to make that train and that train alone from wherever I live in that tiny window of time. On FOOT!
Works as a teacher (gets to tell impressionable minds what to do/is always right) Lowest of the low on the food chain at work; gets tons of work with deadlines set by others; is not in charge of anything in any way whatsoever
Went to an Ivy League university (tuition costs met by parents) Went to a bog-standard but high-ranking local university
Is a US citizen Is currently undergoing the US immigration process, which is not exactly simple, short or cheap, and is damn fucking stressful
Sets rules (work/home etc) Follows rules (work/home etc)

The thing is, her life is more or less content, but mine is in a state of chaos and constant flux, having, you know…emigrated to another country and all. I am simply trying to achieve her level of content, or something close to it. It’s not about wanting and taking, but rather trying to get the same things that everyone else has, or at least everyone who works/lives in your area – a secure job where you’re relatively valued, a home of your own, and maybe even some furniture. Too much to ask?

But because I don’t have the resources available to me that she does/did (either as a citizen or because of her upbringing), it’s considerably more difficult, and the tangible aspects of these issues just can’t be happy-thought-ed away.

But in all of these regards, she has had the comfort, care and financial support by her parents/family even after she had moved out. For my family, it’s difficult for them. UK salaries, even for doctors, don’t really stretch that far out here. If I had been born and brought up in the US, things would have been different. Neither upbringing is more right than the other; it’s just different. But having that comforting shelter throughout your adulthood makes it difficult to comprehend anyone going through some genuinely stressful, complicated, unstable and convoluted life events.

It brings me back to that experiment I did. I can pretend that everything is happy and that there are clowns and puppy dogs and fireworks and candy and clowns everywhere, but none of that is going to change the actual facts, cause and effect of the negative FACTS in my life.

If I had a job that commanded a sense of power and/or fulfilled me in that way, I might feel differently about life. If I didn’t have to pay extortionate paperwork and legal fees, and wasn’t exempt from state and employment benefits and wasn’t completely on my own, family and friends-wise, then perhaps I’d feel differently about life.

But the fact of the matter is, it’s not, and I don’t. I’ve accepted that, but I’ve also accepted that it’s perfectly natural to react to and experience the stress caused by that. It’s there. I know I’m English, but you can’t just sweep it under a rug.

I feel the same lingering sense of resentment when I see a millionaire musician or successful clown/entertainer telling people to “follow their dreams” and “nothing can stop you doing what you want if you try hard enough”, leaving tens of thousands of failed musicians getting the noose tight enough on the third or fourth attempt (because they weren’t trying hard enough).

That sort of well-meaning but clearly hindsight-rooted “advice” is naive, but in a more…insulting, blinkered way, completely oblivious to the struggles that other, less fortunate, less privileged people face. It’s the rich/poor dichotomy, the polarized social mess that makes happy, butterfly-flitting volunteers of the one set and boxed-in, resentful misanthropes of the rest.

And that’s what it’s like to be an immigrant at this stage in the process. “Thinking positively” is ultimately a foolish ignorance of issues that need to be solved and/or simply slogged through. A waiting game. Soon.

To reiterate: when you emigrate to the US, you are a helpless, feckless, useless little baby. Except your mummy isn’t there to help you. No-one is.

Except the clowns.

Why Being an Immigrant in America Means Being Ripped Off by Everybody

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When you emigrate, your life inevitably changes. If you’ve been spoiled with certain human rights, government programs and relatively small levels of corruption, you’ll notice the change of quality in your life if you venture outside of that comfort zone. And I’m not talking about a few family members who took a year out to work and travel around parts of South Asia, or to volunteer in some fairly dangerous parts of Africa. I really just mean America.

I speak only from the point of view of an English-accented immigrant with an ethnicity that is not terribly obvious to the average Yank. Both of these combined suggest that I must clearly be some exotic oil baron’s child bride with money to burn, but it’s almost wholly about the accent. Southern English accents mean you get invited to Sunday high tea at Buckingham Palace and therefore mean you are rich. The con men don’t see you coming; they hear you coming.

Renting:

I am currently renting a furnished “apartment” with the following problems:

  • There is no kitchen. There is a bathroom, and a living room with a couch, and a dining table with a kettle and a microwave. If you use both at the same time, a fuse blows. The miniature refrigerator does not freeze anything and often doesn’t even close.
  • There is only one heat source – an old-fashioned furnace that only reaches half of the living room. My bedroom is on the other side of the “apartment”, meaning it has NO HEAT. At the time of writing, it gets as low as -1C at night.
  • I previously shared the “apartment” with a cat who would piss everywhere. Every day, on the couch (in the only warm room in the house), there would be a few huge piles of poo or half the cushion would be soaked in cat wee-wee. This was my landlady’s cat, and she had no problem running her hand over the urine-patch (to see if it was urine) and then hand me back my change from the rent I gave her.
  • My landlady only accepts cash, and refuses to let my name be on the mailbox, or even have mail delivered without having “c/o [her name]” preceding it.
  • The basement was completely submerged after a rainstorm a few weeks ago, and three days later, after all the neighbours had cleared out their basements, she still hadn’t done it (as a homeowner, she should have had a sump pump). Now, there is some weird-looking white stuff all over the basement. It’s a little strange that I got sick soon after with flu-like symptoms, and only, only when it rained. Mould allergies can develop after exposure to mould, which happens after something like, I don’t know…flooding. And those allergies become hellish each time it rains. It also doesn’t help if there’s no fucking HEAT in most of the “apartment”.
  • This “apartment” (sorry) is actually a converted attic. The bathroom has a powerful vent but no windows. The light sources are few and far between and most of the closet space is taken up by her own things.
  •  I share this whole place with another person. Including the tiny, dorm-sized fridge.
  • I pay a “reduced” rent of $800 per month.

Now, she’s a nice lady (when she feels like it), but she knows she is overcharging me. She sees me as a meek, waifish foreign Brit and therefore I must be completely oblivious to when I’m being overcharged for something. Little does she know that paying well over £500 per month to SHARE with someone is rare, even outside of London, and even if it’s furnished. I could live in Cardiff in a modern, furnished flat with a washing machine (and heat) for less than that. Even the above stats show that $800 is ridiculous for a room-share, even in a full apartment.

Searching for a roommate situation on Craigslist will turn up results in the range of $400-$600 per month, and for that you at least get an actual kitchen and privacy. There are also an unsettling aspect about living here that I’d rather not go into, but suffice it to say that if I hadn’t been a desperate immigrant with nowhere else to live, I would have hotfooted it out of there a while ago with a landlord-face-shaped mark on a baseball bat.

And the reason I had nowhere else to go? Because no-one will rent to you without:

  • a glowing reference check (UK references don’t count)
  • a glowing credit report (they can’t check a UK credit report)
  • income verification that your rent will not exceed 1/3 of your income (no job yet? jog on)
  • personal references (don’t know anyone in the US? Then you’re obviously a serial killer)

This is for an estate agent, meaning you are left to the wolves of the “apartments by owner” section on Craigslist. Trawl through scams, negotiate with slumlords and know for a fact that the bathroom ceiling that is “being renovated” will keep caving in every 2-3 months of your lease there. It is Cowboy Country. And it goes without saying – definitely don’t try to fix up something beforehand while you’re overseas. Either they’re a scam and will steal your money (even if they live locally), or they’ll think you’re a scam.

Employment

When you are an immigrant, it’s likely you won’t have a job when you get here. Even my father, a doctor, was told by the AMAthat he would have to arrive in the US and THEN get a job, whereas the GMC advised they would work with him to secure work (or at least a lead) before he arrived in the UK. So, he chose the UK (where, a few years later, I was born).

The best bet for fast work is recruitment agencies, but when you’re looking them up on Google, use the term “staffing agencies”. They are not like any agency in the UK. who are generally honest, take a relatively small commission from your salary and will see an end in sight for your temp assignment, in that you are either likely to go permanent after 3 months, or it was just a short-term role anyway.

Here? They post false job adverts “representative” of their job postings, interview you for the roles for which you’re not qualified, and when they finally do get you a job, they will take almost 3/4 of your income. And you will stay in that rich-poor middle ground for a very long time, listening to your c0-workers making jet-setting plans for the weekend and telling you you should go see a doctor when you’re sick, even though, as a temp, you do not have the free flu shots, cheap health insurance with great coverage and obscenely high pay that they do. But at least you can console yourself with the fact, because you do more work than they do, there is a certain comfort in being that stereotype for cheap, overworked foreign labour.

"That's preposterous! Zutroy here is as American as apple pie!"

Healthcare

I will never get tired of bitching about this one. Let’s say that you’re unwell, and you have a general idea of what’s wrong with you. In the UK, that often helps with accelerating a diagnosis, but it’s not the be-all, end-all of things. Here, you are put on an assembly line the moment you step in, and if you are dressed nicely enough, it’s clear that you are not just there to falsely obtain prescription drugs and they will place you in the “fast-track” process. It probably costs more, but either way you are still going to get that much-needed 20 seconds with a junior doctor/trainee vocational nurse. Do not be frightened if the hospital tries to sell you drugs, anyway – it’s just in their nature. Be flattered if they are trying to force the expensive ones on you because it means they think you are rich enough to afford it.

Just walking into a shop

Only in Salem could you walk into a barely-painted back room and be forced to contemplate the reality of fun but cheaply-printed hoodies being sold for $40, or a Christmas decoration that’s close to $30. They’re nice items, don’t get me wrong, but everything – everything – is so terribly, terribly expensive. I’d love to go local and buy a bath rug that looks no different than the $6 one in Target, but being forced to pay $35 for one is just taking the piss. Why? Because if you sound English, and dress English (even something like clearance New Look), you look like a tourist, and you are their slimy bread and butter.

And it doesn’t get any better when you go to the mall (the haven of mediocrity) – if you ask someone at say, Lush, for a good gift idea for a landlady you’ve only known for a few months, you will be directed to the $30-$40 gift boxes as opposed to the generic, safe-sounding, one-size-fits-all offerings. Why? Because you have an English accent.

Note that the accent does come in handy when popping into expensive department stores to use the bathroom, so make sure to posh it up somewhat extra. They won’t care that you have no intention of buying their overpriced Burberry imports and will be thankful that you graced the commodes with your Royal tinkles.