Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Those elusive pages

I have finished really-rather-poor book with the telegram. It featured some spectactularly hilarious info-dumps, so good I may yet share one with you before I return this to the library. But it was also clearly written by someone who was not British. (The author is American.)

At one point, the heroine spots a suspicious person going into a chemists. So she follows that person in and, to look busy while listening in, browses the magazines.

In American and Canadian drug stores, magazines are ubiquitous. It's one of the basic places to go and buy a magazine.

In the UK? Chemists don't stock magazines. The only time I have seen them there have been in giant Boots, Boots so large they are mini-department stores with an electronics section, books, and stationary.

Have you ever seen magazines for sale in a normal chemists in the UK?


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 5th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC)
Only stuff that warns one about Unmentionable Diseases.

I love much about Connie Willis, who may or may not be the writer you are thinking of, but her research is so shoddy it throws me right out of the experience. American writers all too often seem to assume we're exactly like them buy quainter.
Sep. 6th, 2011 01:29 pm (UTC)
Connie Willis can write better than this!
Sep. 5th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC)
Maybe Boots at the airport, but I might be thinking of WHSmiths too since they're right next to each other and I'm usually stumbling around trying to find caffeine somewhere, anywhere when I'm there. Also, Superdrug has some girly magazines (like 2-3) I noticed while in there the other day, but I'd hardly say one would "browse" so much as "glance".
Sep. 6th, 2011 06:24 am (UTC)
No (other than the odd shiny girls magazine in Superdrug, an independent chemist would never stock them) we're a nation of newsagent lovers. It's only recently (ie the last 20 years) that supermarkets have started having a browser bar for magazines.
Sep. 6th, 2011 06:27 am (UTC)
My gran recently cited a novel featuring an American woman who somehow travelled directly from London to Paris in 1942. Gran was impressed at her resourcefulness.
Sep. 6th, 2011 10:46 am (UTC)
Boat train? I recently read an Agatha Christie novel where passport control for travel to Europe was done in one of the London railway stations.
Sep. 6th, 2011 12:31 pm (UTC)
During the war? You can't travel to an occupied nation during the war. Hence Dunkirk?
Sep. 6th, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
Er, yes. Very true. My only excuse is not enough cups of tea before posting. :]
Sep. 6th, 2011 06:43 am (UTC)
One of my favourite examples of this sort of thing is from an episode of the tv series Alias. The agents have been sent to infiltrate a posh dinner at an Oxford college ("Oxford, England") in order to extract/kidnap/rescue some scientist or other. While skulking around in the corridors, they're discovered by college security, who immediately pull out guns and start shooting. I thought "but Oxford's internal security people don't have guns - they wear bowler hats".

(I'm sure there are examples of British books and tv shows which get things woefully wrong about America too, of course. But being British with no experience of living in America, I don't tend to notice those unless they're really, glaringly obvious.)
Sep. 6th, 2011 07:33 am (UTC)
I suspect the availability of US culture in the UK gives us a bit of an advantage there, but the odd howler is bound to happen. :)
Sep. 6th, 2011 08:49 am (UTC)
Funny how such small things can jolt you right out of the scene; I remember a friend complaining about a book set in London (but written by someone who had probably never been there), which described someone ducking into the underground to get out of the summer heat in the cool tunnels.
Um, yeah, no.

There are various communities on LJ specifically for writers (amateur or pro) to check their facts; this morning, for example, I've seen someone asking what noise doorbells typically make in London flats. Nit-picky, I suppose, you it can make a difference, and I'm always a bit annoyed when I see a really stupid gaffe in a published book, which could easily have been checked (like Dan bloody Brown's characters travelling the wrong way across Paris; do they not have maps where he's from?).
Sep. 6th, 2011 11:05 am (UTC)
"which described someone ducking into the underground to get out of the summer heat in the cool tunnels."

Huh. They'd apparently never been to London or New York :)
Sep. 6th, 2011 09:35 am (UTC)
I wish they called them chemists in the US.

That's really all I had to say.

Oh, other than the fact that it was funny to see Matt Smith and Karen Gillian doing their "American accents" on the Doctor Who in America special. Because, you know, just as there is only one "British accent" - there is only one American one as well. :)

(edited to add: apparently when I post directly to your blog - rather than from my friends page - it defaults to my Facebook id).
Sep. 6th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
I sometimes feel sorry for people who practice chemistry professionally and are not involved in pharmaceuticals though, as a result of the name.
Sep. 6th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
P.S. It was extremely clear that it was you! But you may well not wish that account so publicly connected when you have your LJ one you can involve instead.
Sep. 7th, 2011 11:31 am (UTC)
You know....I never thought about it until now, but: My Dad has a B.S. in chemical engineering and has worked in that capacity for 40+ years...but I have never heard anyone refer to him as a chemist. Granted, he doesn't usually actually mix any chemicals himself (it's more of an advisory/theory type thing) - but I never really thought about that before now. :)

I don't really mind my FB account being linked to my LJ account - it was really more of an OCD reaction about orderliness than anything. :)
Sep. 6th, 2011 09:42 am (UTC)
The answer to your question is 'No' - I was surprised, in my youth, by the way everyone in the letters pages to US comic books talked about buying them at the 'drug store'. (Now I think about it, I am amazed that I did not go through my teenage years - in the 60s - believing that comic books were peddled along with hash and horse.)
Sep. 6th, 2011 01:34 pm (UTC)
I was prepared to believe that there was some major exception I had missed. It's reassuring to know I was right to begin with.
Sep. 6th, 2011 10:27 am (UTC)
I think once, passing through a small village, where we popped in for a drink and found the pharmacist sharing the space with the food/drink/magazines/dry cleaning. Very unusual though - it is (was!) normally the post office that combines with general daily necessities that day.

My pet peeve of this kind is houses with bathrooms and people who bathe every day: all too many US fantasists project daily habits bred from having bathrooms and hot water actually under the same roof as the sleeping space onto characters who have neither.
Sep. 6th, 2011 10:44 am (UTC)
No, I've never seen magazines in chemists, neither in the past or now. We just group our products differently here in the UK.

Magazines belong with newspapers, cigarettes, sweets and cheap toys at the newsagents. Chemists dispense prescription medicine, sell over-the-counter remedies and personal grooming products. They sometimes used to also drift into photography and even cameras for sale, though you don't see that so much now everything has gone digital, though our local Boots has memory cards and batteries.
Sep. 6th, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
I don't know what book you've been reading but actually, historically Boots the Chemist might not have been a bad place to find a periodical. They used to have lending libraries in them! http://www.ambaile.org.uk/en/item/item_photograph.jsp?item_id=777
Sep. 6th, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
But not, usually, in the 21st century when this book was set.

(Still, that's really neat! Thank you for linking to it!)
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )