Later this afternoon, the New York Jets* will play the Miami Dolphins* at Wembley. Moving an entire NFL team across the Atlantic for a single game is a major logistic exercise. The New York Times recently interviewed the Jets' Operations Manager about the extra work such a game entailed.
"Degerness learned which gate the plane would pull into, which door the team would exit and where the jet bridge would deposit the group. [OK, seems a little anal, but presumably this guy has to check for any eventuality because that's his job. Fair enough.] He also learned that when the Jets flew home, their walkway would meander past duty-free shops, and that worries him, if only a little. [Is it really a problem if the players buy the odd bottle of single malt on the way home?]
“It’s hard to tell the guys: ‘Don’t stop. Just keep walking,’ ” Degerness said. “Those are the things that keep us up at night — that we get through security, someone stops at duty free, and we leave Ryan Fitzpatrick because we didn’t know he wasn’t there.” In that unlikely event, the Jets have a solution: As each player boards the plane, a team official will cross off the player’s name with a highlighter. [These are highly paid adults, and apparently the only way to reliably ensure that they all board the plane is to treat them like children on a school trip. Do you think they'll be made to hold hands with a partner and told not to speak to strangers? Ryan Fitzpatrick, the player singled out, is the Jets' starting quarterback. He has an Economics degree from Harvard.]
If the Jets were playing in South Florida, for instance, they would not have needed to pack more than 5,000 items — ranging from cereal [Yeah, because we don't eat breakfast cereal in the UK. Come to think of it, aren't the three biggest breakfast cereal manufacturers in the UK market - Kelloggs, Quaker and Nabisco all American companies?] and extension cords to gauze pads and wrist bands — onto a ship containing supplies for all six N.F.L. teams playing in London this season.
They would not have needed to list the value and country of origin for the contents in every trunk or bag. Or find an industrial launderer to pick up soiled practice clothing at one location and deliver it clean to another. Or fly in the chef at their London hotel to observe how food is cooked and served at team headquarters. [OK, fair enough.]
Or order 350 rolls of toilet paper to replace the thinner version used in England. [Wait...what?]
The toilet paper side of the story has been picked up by Pro Football Talk and the BBC among others. The BBC investigated further: "There was an intern who had been over to London numerous times. "He noticed when he was there that - and I quote - 'the toilet paper was very thin because their plumbing isn't as good'. "So, the intern informed the operations staff, and the Jets ordered 350 rolls of toilet paper for the hotel and the stadium."
So an organisation of a few hundred people apparently had to rely on a single intern to tell them what one of the world's most important cities and most popular tourist destinations was like. Where did the thin toilet paper idea come from? Apparently, American toilet paper is "2-ply". Well, so is British toilet paper. Here's the toilet paper section of Britain's biggest supermarket chain's online website
. All of the toilet paper, even the dirt cheap 'Tesco Everyday Value' stuff, is 2-ply. In my life, the only time when I have ever seen single-ply toilet paper in the UK was at a grotty campsite in the late 1970s. If a major hotel is providing single-ply toilet paper to its guests, then you're in the wrong hotel. (It occurs to me that the intern who had experienced thin toilet paper had been dirt poor when he visited London and maybe stayed in a really awful hotel. Even then, I think he'd have been unlucky to experience single ply toilet paper.)
I wonder if this could lead to one of those odd stereotypes that Americans have of the British. We all drink tea and nobody drinks coffee. Beer is served warm. That kind of thing. Oh, and British people have bad teeth.
Where the hell did the bad teeth stereotype come from? It presumably predates this scene from The Simpsons:
I've seen it in plenty of places since then. Yet British dental health is generally considered to be among the best in the world. Here's an OECD study that said that British children have the healthiest teeth of all the OECD countries.
(You'll note that American children had only average teeth - not as good as the French, and a long way short of Germany and the UK.)
* Or, as the BBC announcer rather incompetently says "New Yorks Jets will play Miami Dolphins". What, any jets? Any dolphins? Is a random collection of airliners from JFK International going to show up to thrash a bunch of small cetaceans?