AMERICANS! Please help...

That’s great! Looks exceptionally comfortable.


It is. Our old house was one of those sprawling sea-captain’s residences, and was, I determined, the principal reason they all frowned in their portraits. After a 30-below winter in 1977, when we burned through our annual 12 cords of wood before Patriots Day, we vowed, like Scarlett O’Hara, that we’d never be chilly again. Now we burn under two cords a year, culled from our woodlot, and that includes all heating (though the sun covers about half the load) and most cooking. Summers, there’s a beehive oven buried in the earth opening into the kitchen, and a four-hob electric cooktop and a toaster oven. Four years ago we stuck a 3.2kw PV array on the roof (that’s the dark band across the top), and now make roughly 80% of our electricity.

All this, and a big garden, makes it a bit easier living on writer/editor money for the past 30 years.

That’s what I suspected (sigh) but it doesn’t sound as though this has been onerous. You’ve certainly made good energy-saving choices. So we’re looking at the South side, yes? I was little worried about how dark it might be inside with the trees so close but then noticed the skylights. What’s with the translucent? panel just above the gutter? Soft light for living room or another project-yet-to-be-done?

Anyway, like I said, looks exceptionally comfortable!


The trees to the north are white pine and red oak; there are three apple trees to the south to shade the house in the summer and admit light during the winter. They’re kept barbered so they never block the solar panels across the roof ridge. The downstairs roof overhang is calculated to exclude any direct sun between roughly the end of May and the middle of September; but in winter, the low northern sun penetrates all the way to the back of downstairs (the upstairs skylights are shaded in the summer by the apple trees).

The translucent panel lights the attached greenhouse, where we grow winter greens and start plants for the garden (the diffused light from that greenhouse paneling prevents hotspots, which you’d get from glass). There’s also a workbench and a loo out there, which is a very nice place to sit with a notebook and exchange astonished looks with hummingbirds or grouse, depending on the season, while taking care of business, so to speak.

It’s DULUX (with a “u”, not an “a”).

So, I’ve got another one of those questions.

Is “Direct Debit” a recognisable term? A search shows that you have DD as a concept in America (Automatic Clearing House), Australia (Direct Entry), etc, but it’s not clear if the term Direct Debit itself is a term you’d recognise.

As in… “I have a £5 a month direct debit to the RSPCA.”
Is it obvious that means you’ve set up an automatic donation to charity that just happens without you ever having to think about it again?

My bank calls it Automatic Payment. ATM cards are pretty universally called Debit Cards.

Can’t answer for the Americans, but for what it’s worth I’ve never heard of “Direct Entry” in Australia (you really read that somewhere? Truly?? You sure it wasn’t some accountants having a joke*). However, the term “Direct Debit” is used. It applies to any electronic payment made directly from one bank account to another (which, in day-to-speech, includes use of a Debit card). This does not need to be a regular payment, although it can be.

[size=85]Accountancy humour is an acquired taste apparently, so much so that not even all accountants acquire it*
**A relative of mine—a manager in an accountancy firm—attended an accountancy convention and was admonished by another delegate for telling an accountancy joke on the way into the keynote. Apparently the other person thought accountancy was too important for jokes. Bless.[/size]

Yup… … rect_Entry

Okay - it sounds like whilst you might not call it exactly the same thing and know that it means an automated payment that you don’t have to think about, you’ll have a basic appreciation of what it does (cash paid directly from your account).


Thank you America and Australia.

You might be over thinking the descriptor question, surely part of a British writer’s charm for an American audience is their quirky Britishness and their use of British terms etc … Even if your novel is set in america , if your narator/principle is British it makes sense that he’d use British descriptions … of course if your principal is an American then that’s different, but it will be really hard to pull off if you’re not.

In ‘after the wave’, i’ve got a secondary character of American descent , and i’m seriously considering binning her as writing her convincingly is a serious challenge, even though she’s loosely based on an american ex girl friend.

of course the other option is to use generic terms that are understood internationally, so for example instead of worrying about direct debit vs automatic payment, you could just say “donated”

Charles was a careful and meticulous man, he donated £5 to the RSPCA every month, spoke to his mother every monday, and each morning made sure that the skulls of his victims were scrupulously clean

And yet I’ve just been told by an American that Americans won’t know what I’m talking about if I say “old-fashioned dial telephone”—in my experience the standard UK designation—rather than “old-fashioned rotary-dial telephone”. And American’s are always telling me that they find British English too difficult to understand; in fact several years back, a New Zealand Scrivener posted asking if anyone knew of a sort of Google Translate between British English and American, as his readers were mostly American and were continually complaining about his English being too hard to understand.


Thanks Big Soft Moose. There’s a subtlety in the phrase that I want to make sure isn’t missed. I’m checking that DD is recognised as something that requires absolutely no effort on the part of the donor; that it’s absolutely the least effort and thought that someone can put in and still technically be being charitable (assuming that they’re financially stable enough that £5 a month is a nominal sum). From the answers, I’m guessing that’s not obvious to US or Australian readers.

I don’t mind the whole elevator / lift thing, or color / colour, but I’m interested to know if anything I write will cause the reader to experience a beat I’m not anticipating, and I’m very interested to know if any meaning is lost in translation (as Mr X’s experiences illustrate nicely).

Fairy nuff

One point though, i suspect, based on experience with american friends, a greater issue might be with americans not knowing what the RSPCA is … if its important to the story thats its about animals you might want to say ‘humane society’ who are international

talking of international misunderstanding, my day job is as a ranger team leader with the National Trust … one american friend concluded that my job was like in yogi bear, while a rather ditzy american girl concluded that I was special forces … actually the latter worked out okay if you get my drift :wink:

Well… which Americans are you trying to reach? For some of us, RSPCA is similar enough to ASPCA to be obvious. Some of my fellow citizens, on the other hand, would stumble over it even if you spelled the acronym out because the idea of ‘royal’ anything is so foreign. :unamused:

There was much outrage on this side of the pond when the American editions of the Harry Potter books were edited to remove obvious Britishisms. It was seen as unnecessary and condescending. OTOH, once Harry got going, Rowling probably could have gotten away with pidgin if she wanted to. You’re not her, and so publishers may be a bit more skittish.


An automatic charge is most commonly called “auto debit” here in the colonies.

Yeah, every time Raymond Chandler has Phillip Marlowe refer to someone as a “lad” it’s like hitting a speedbump.

We would likely think you’re referring to a landline telephone, full stop. The device you’re describing would be called a “rotary phone.”

Reading this, I’m thinking of the scene in European Vacation where the Cockney desk clerk is jabbering away at Clark Griswold. Thoroughly confused, Clark pulls out his “pocket translator” and starts punching its keys. Clark’s son, Rusty, looks over at him and says, “Dad. He’s speaking English.”

HELLO! I need your help once again.
(will he ever finish this damn novel?!? I certainly hope not!)

Americans, Australians, New Zealander’s, Canadans…
Can you name for me please some varieties of apple that are common in your jurisdictions? Bonus points if you highlight which varieties you think have funny names.

Mackintosh seems to be the most popular in the Northeast, though I’m unable to understand why. Cortlands taste better and they don’t turn brown as fast when they’re sliced.
Red Delicious is the default choice nationwide. Otherwise known as The Favorite Apple for People Who Don’t Like Apples.
Give me a Roxbury Russet, or a Sheep’s Nose or a Northern Spy, the quintessential pie apple from Olde Newe Englande.

The two major apple-growing regions in the US are the Northeast and Washington state. Probably the central midwest grows some for themselves, but they don’t really ship to the rest of the country (or world).

In Washington state, the varieties you’ll most often see in stores are Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, and Granny Smith (which are tart cooking apples). … var-guide/