Time zones and … O Juice



I am writing this on the 30th of March,  the day after that on which the UK was scheduled to leave the EU, but did not. This day, Saturday,  is in the last weekend of March. Early on Sunday morning, we shift from Greenwich Mean Time to British Summer Time, by advancing our clocks by one hour.

In late 1994, while we were on holiday in California, we decided to drive over to the State of Arizona to see Lake Havasu City. After London Bridge was dismantled in 1968, its stones were carefully labelled and sent to Lake Havasu City, where it was reconstructed. By 1971, the bridge had been re-built in a picturesque lakeside position where it has become one of Arizona’s major tourist attractions.

After settling into a motel, we wandered over to a restaurant. For the duration of our evening meal we were the only diners. I ordered ‘New York Steak’, which turned out to be strips of beefsteak. Soon after taking our order, the waitress returned and asked: “D’ya want it with or without O Juice?”

I had never heard of eating steak with orange juice, so I said:

“Excuse me, what did you say?”

She replied, slightly impatiently: 

“O juice, you know kinda gravy.”

What sounded like ‘O Juice’ was the waitresses attempt to pronounce the French culinary term ‘au jus‘.

After eating our meal, it was only eight o’clock. We asked the waitress where were all of the other diners and why was she clearing all the tables and stacking the chairs, getting ready to close the eatery.

“It’s  getting late you know”

“But it’s only eight,” we retorted.

“Nope, it’s nine,” she informed us.

We had not realised that by crossing from California to Arizona, we had moved into a time zone one hour ahead of California.

African meeting


All of the relatives in my parents’ generation were born in South Africa. Some might say that they were ‘Africans’ although many Africans might not agree. One of these always arrived at our house at least an hour before we had invited him, and another usually did not arrive until one hour after we had invited him. My parents, on the other hand, were sticklers for punctuality.

For several years, I worked in a dental practice, which might have well been described as the “United Nation of bad teeth.” My patients had originated from all over the world. They came from, for example: Brazil, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, the West Indies, Spain, Portugal, tropical and southern Africa, the former Yugoslavia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ireland, and a few from the UK. Few of them appreciated the importance of punctuality.

We operated an appointment system in the practice. Patients booked specific times on particular days for their chance to visit me or one of my colleagues. Most of them either turned up at the wrong time or not at all. Consequently, my days were broken up into periods of frenetic activity separated by periods of inactivity, plenty of time to read a book.

One afternoon, a Tunisian gentleman turned up for his appointment at the right time on the correct day. I was so surprised that I said to him:

“How nice. You’ve come on time. Most of my other patients are not as courteous as you. They come whenever they feel like it, if at all.”

The patient listened, removed his coat, sat in my dental chair, and then said:

“Yes, that what we call in French ‘rendez-vous africaine’”

Somehow, after hearing that, my patients’ erratic attendance and timing began to make sense with me, and no longer bothered me. It also chimed with the erratic timings of some of my South African relatives.