Every once in a while I still run across a word or phrase that is uniquely British. Yesterday I went to get some new sheets for the two twin beds in our guest room since we're hosting two volleyball players from St. John's International School in Belgium this weekend for a tournament. I hope the two seniors we've been assigned are well-behaved and respectful since I'm planning to treat them to an American breakfast Saturday morning featuring pancakes, Aunt Jemima syrup, bacon and fresh fruit. If either one dares to sneak out of the house or hit the liquor, then they'll be getting a bowl of cold cereal instead. And if you think I'm jesting, let me tell you... I've heard a couple of nightmarish stories about a few kids the other team parents have hosted in the past from other international schools that would curl your hair. No one is getting arrested for public intoxication or pregnant on my watch. All it takes is a couple juvenile delinquents to have you nailing windows closed and locking them into their rooms at the 11 pm curfew.
I already knew that twin sheets are called singles over here. What I was unprepared for were the pillowcases. First off, I didn't see one sheet set in the whole bedding department of the major department store where I was shopping. What's up with that? Everything was packaged individually, which made it pretty pricey. And some of the cheaper sheets I was considering had such a low thread count that they might as well have been burlap. Plus the less expensive sheets were labeled "easy iron". Nuh-uh... I aint ironing any sheets for someone to sleep on, rewrinkle in a couple minutes and undo all my hard work.
So back to the pillows. The plain old garden variety pillowcases that come in a sheet set are called housewife pillows over here. Isn't that quaint? What we call shams in the US are called Oxford pillowcases, the ones with a 2-3 inch border around the perimeter. Then I ran into a Risbury pillowsham, which is like an Oxford pillowcase but it's made of a thicker material.
I ended up with some 600 thread count cream colored sheets and Risbury pillowshams that came to a grand total of £185. I refuse to do the conversion to dollars because then I'll be really ill about what I spent. I tossed my purchases into the boot of the car - Brit speak for the trunk - and drove home contemplating some throw pillows as the next step in my guest room beautification plan. I just discovered Pottery Barn will ship to the UK. Isn't that convenient?