In the words of the talented Paul Simon: "Gee but it's great to be back home. Home is where I wanna beeeeeee ..." Two weeks in the south east of England'll do that for you. Make you miss the cut and thrust, the grit and soul, the grunt and grime of this, our own weird little part of the world.
On the plus side, the weather over there is consistently better than here. I know you all had a bit of heat here, but over there it was positively Mediterranean. Y'know the sort of heat where even the air, wafting by, is roasting and it feels like someone's left the oven on with the door open?
But then again, two days of burning heat and I'm chasing the shade, so for me, hot's not always a bonus.
On another plus side, the people I was away with, working on a play, were great. Even the English ones.
But that's enough of being nice, let's get to the downside ...
Where to start?
It's not that there's a huge lot "wrong" with southern English people, it's mostly just the way they talk and how that makes them all sound. Y'know the slow, slightly dim way they have of responding to anything?
"Reallllllly ...? Oh riiiiiiiiight ... Yeaaaaaaaah ... Lahvely ..."
Oh for God's sake, put a bit of oomph in yer bake!
How the hell did that country ever run an empire?
Court person: "Eh, Your Highness, we have landed in a foreign country and we think we'd like to rule it."
Monarch: "Wot's foreign mean then? Is it like, really, really far away? Can you get a Costa coffee there? No? Oooohhh... I dunno. Let's just leave it shall we? The Chase is comin' on soon, it's m'favourite. Here, have you seen the head of my last wife since I had it put on that spike? Lahvely innit?"
At times, over here, you forget that they are so indifferent to us. You fall into the silly trap of thinking that maybe they give the slightest flying fig roll about Ireland, north or south, and our "difficulties". They don't! On the whole they know nothing and care even less. "You live in Belfast? That's Dublin, right?"
On the plus side, they don't have one leader of their coalition government telling visiting World Police and Fire Game participants that, "this is a country very much at peace. This is a country looking to the future", while his party colleague plans to address a rally commemorating two IRA men, in the very town they were attempting to blow up, only they managed to blow themselves up instead.
(By the way, what are they commemorating? The murderous intention or the totally inept reality? Either stinks.)
They wouldn't do that over there, in Eng-er-land. So which is better?
The bland or the brutal? The droning voices or the voices raised in hatred? The not-really-interested or the can't-let-it-go?
I know neither is the whole picture, in either place.
There are lively, interested, intelligent southern English (I believe) and there are moderate, forward-looking Norn Irish, some of whom are even sitting in government.
On the whole I prefer here. Better the devil y'know than the one you can't stand the sound of ...