Friday, October 3, 2008


This is the first of a series of essays on life in Pennsylvania which I hope you will find amusing and interesting. I live in a Class III City called Pottsville with my Wife, Joanie, who I married early last June. Class III is the smallest conurbation which may be called a city, I guess it is about the size of Battle; it has it’s own police force and is the administrative capital of Schuykill (pronounced skookle) County. Schuykill County also has it’s own police force and then there is the State Police making the whole system very like that which is found in Continental Europe. But surprisingly enough a highway patrol is seldom seen when out driving, not a bit like the old TV series. I think I have only seen about a dozen stops by the patrol over the past two years. In fact it is fair to say that everyone (especially truck drivers) seem to treat speed limits as a joke. I make a point of keeping within the limit, as an immigrant awaiting permanent residential status, I have no desire to fall foul of the law, nevertheless it is most disconcerting, after having set the cruise control to the limit, to be overtaken by an endless number of eighteen wheelers all of which are exceeding the limit by at least twenty miles per hour!

The main gripe at the moment is the price of gas (petrol). I just cannot get into this, the cost now is $3.56 a gallon, or in other words about two pounds! (I don’t have a pound sign on this keyboard by the way). They find it hard to believe when I say it is around $8 in Britain even if the US gallon is less than the Imperial (3.8 litres/4.4 litres) We have a 3.4 litre V6 Chevrolet Impala, automatic of course, not the best thing with high gas prices, but there is no point in part exchanging it for a smaller car as nobody wants these big engined things and any gas saving would take years to recover the sale losses. Anyway, it is a beautiful car to drive and we admit we would really miss it if we changed!

But enough about cars and gas prices. As you are probably well aware, this is election year, polling day is early November and I still find it difficult to differentiate between the two contenders policy wise. All they seem to be doing is slagging each other off, nobody has actually said what they propose to do if elected. It looks like the winner will be Obama (Democrat), Pennsylvania is one of the key states which the winner must win (don’t ask me why) and already Obama is seven points ahead of McCain. We were at a fair last week, Joanie picked up a McCain banner which I finished up carrying up for her. When people tried to start a discussion/debate with me (as Americans are prone to!) it gave me great pleasure to be able to reply that I was an immigrant who can’t vote and wasn’t bothered anyway!!

Well guess that’s enough for one session, I hope I haven’t been too boring and would welcome any feedback before I get round to writing Letter #2

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