DO THE ENGLISH LIKE THE AMERICANS?
By Nigel Ballard 28 Maxwell road Winton Bournemouth Dorset BH9 1DL England.
Howard the sysop, recently asked me a question, 'Do the british like having American tourists in their country?'
A good question, that deserves a full if not cautious answer.
I remember in the World War Two film called 'Yanks' some bright spark made the comment that the Americans were 'Over Paid, Over Sexed and OVER HERE'! Not a terribly kind thing to say especially as these boys had left safer AND warmer climes to help save our arse's.
Firstly, you must appreciate the English, we are a damn funny lot, contrary to popular belief, we are not all like Basil Fawlty from the outrageous TV sitcom Fawlty Towers starring John Cleese. We are however a peculiar race. Our elders still remember a time when Britain was a country to be reckoned with, an EMPIRE and all that crap. Worse still our now departed forefathers actually used to swing the lead in America!
Back to the present day, now that short history lesson is over with. Whereas an American would think nothing of driving fifty miles to get a burger. To the British, this is a major ROAD TRIP? We are somewhat insular, it could be said that many of us suffer from a small town mentality. We live, work and play in a tiny geographical area, and only venture out maybe twice a year. Once to visit Harrods in London, just to get that classy green carrier bag. And once to visit Majorca for our two weeks holiday. Other than that we tend to hang around in the same areas, meeting the same people. To an American this may seem VERY STRANGE indeed. But to many of us, we are happy staying in familiar surroundings and with familiar people. Let's face it, we Brits are just not very adventurous people.
Of course city dwellers are a different race altogether, and not being one, I am not in a position to argue their case.
A COUNTRY GENT Best described as a man who's family has lived in the same enormous, but rather run down house for generations. Tweed is the preferred dress. Trouble is, this CHAPPIE, usually doesn't have two farthings to rub together. Nobody minds, because rich or poor, when he talks, he doesn't talk at you, he talks DOWN to you. It is not a deliberate act, it is just what we refer to as breeding. And as such he can get away with murder. Everything about him an American would call QUAINT.
QUAINT This is the first of many words used to EXCESS by American tourists. We Brits do not like it very much. Some of us may be country bumpkins, but we don't like it shoved down our throats by complete strangers wearing plaid slacks and driving one of 'them there' giant hire cars that seem reserved for the exclusive use of American tourists, who in all honesty are the only people capable of manoeuvring them around our QUAINT little traffic system. To us, a roundabout is a roundabout. We do not consider them the eighth wonder of the world, and as such we are baffled by the 26 foot long motor home parked on the hard shoulder as two tourists armed with motor driven Nikons snap away at this engineering marvel. After all it is only a circle of concrete filled with earth and decorated with a few poxy flowers.
OVERPOWERING To the British, the Americans are a bit overpowering. They show emotions openly whereas any student of Victorian Britain will tell you, we keep our emotions bottled up. It just would not be British to show our inner feelings. Personally I like the way Americans summon a waitress over if their steak is less than 100%. The brits however, NEVER MAKE A FUSS, we just muddle through, and chew on the gristle as best we can.
PUSHY Now we definitely have you on this one. Take the queue at a bank, Britain is known for it's superb Queues, no country other than those for food in Russia could come close to meeting ours in length or civility. We just stand there like lemmings waiting our turn to jump over the cliff. In walks an American, expecting the level of service they get at First National, they mutter loudly about how QUAINT our banking system is. Their fascination turns very quickly to impatience as they start the dreaded queue jumping. Normally mild mannered and well behaved locals, soon get in on the act, and before you know it, it's like sharks in a feeding frenzy. Not a pretty sight.
WELL OFF We definitely have an aversion to nations that seem to have bigger and better things than we do. A great British case in point, is that the Germans drive Mercedes, while we potter about in our teeny weenie little runabouts, the question then get's asked, 'Who won the bloody war then?'. We get bombarded with so many American Soaps, and the British just love to hate the people and their seemingly opulent life-styles. Dallas being possibly the best example. Even the cow hands drive better cars than we do! Unfortunately, envy can be a cancerous and all consuming pastime for some. I'm happy with my lot, I would like more, but I definitely don't begrudge anyone else who has more, except perhaps Donald Trump (and what a wife he's got, enough said on that I think).
BIGGER AND BETTER Stop telling us that what ever we have, you have one that's bigger and better. We don't care. Well actually we do care very much indeed, we just would rather NOT have our noses rubbed in it.
YOU LEFT US BEHIND I THINK It appears to me that we find you all so fascinating, but prefer to look at you all from afar. Maybe it is because you have evolved just so damn quick. America is a giant among giants, so what happened to our bloody EMPIRE? Well that is certainly our fault, and not yours. WE made our bed and now we must lie in it.
TELEVISION Excluding the new satellite channels, we have four terrestrial channels. And pretty damn good they are too. What most British people see of US television goes to convince them that four channels of good quality programming is better than twenty-four channels of crap.
SUCCESS What a great word, and what a great thing to have. Most Brits are embarrassed by success, as in money, we hide it away thinking that somebody else will want some of it if we show our real worth. Quite rightly the Americans are not at all embarrassed by success. If you've got it flaunt it, well maybe that's a bit vulgar, but anyway,hard work, commitment and sound business ideas should be commended and lessons learned should be passed along to encourage others to follow in in the same direction. It is a shame but in the UK if you are a success, the public and the press both feel that as public property, you are now eligible to be ripped to shreds.
SMALL WORLD Now we think this is quaint. Upon meeting an American, any American, one is asked where about's in the UK one is from. I reply DORSET, the american ALWAYS ALWAYS says, well you must know Fred and Winnie. Well Dorset may not be New York State, but really what a preposterous notion to assume that every Brit knows every other Brit.
DISTURBING There are many things we see on the TV that disturb us all about the American way of life. Perhaps some might assume that if we mix, then some of these disturbing occurrences will rub off. Take crime, we see so many instances of senseless crime, just recently we saw footage of female gangs that will shoot passer's by just for the NIKE training shoes they are wearing. Hotels in Miami that refuse to allow bills to be paid by cash, just in case they get robbed. The dreadful drugs and AIDS situation. Although England is no bastion made up exclusively of righteous people, it still remains a fact that certain areas of America are not safe to walk in. And I know that many people are not keen to see any of our sacred turf turn into lawless ghetto's. Our Police still refuse to openly wear side-arms, our local bobby is mostly approachable, they ride push bikes and walk the streets alone and unarmed. And yes we like it that way. Many of us are not convinced that the American's right to bear arms is a good thing. It seems so easy to get a gun in the USA. In the UK however, private individuals being allowed to own and shoot firearms (other than shot-guns) is as rare as rocking horse droppings.
RACISM Yes Britain has it, unpleasant as it may be, in certain areas, mostly cities, we have it rather bad. Out in the country, there is no problem, mainly I think because we have no race minorities here. They prefer to stick together, safety in numbers. However bad the situation is here, it has never got to the stage where grown men dress up in pointy hats and bed linen, and then proceed to burn wooden crosses. In the Second World War, Coloured men fought alongside white, taking the same risks for the same pay. So why I ask myself when a race of people has given it's all to the country of it's choice, why can't they get accepted, and be allowed to live their lives. Although as already said we have our problems, for the most part we live and let live. The british are more verbal in their bigotry, If we don't like someone we'll say so, and often to their face. We draw the line however at burning other people's house's down.
TO SUMMARISE WE love the money you bring us, we love to hate the soap star characters you send us. We just find you all a bit overpowering. While writing this article I asked many people if they liked Americans, most said NO, so I replied, tell me why? No convincing argument came back. I strongly think it is a combination of all the aforementioned points. We just operate in a lower gear than you do. Americans 'give good meeting'and 'touch base'with each other, whereas we meet down the pub for a pint of beer and a ploughmans lunch.
AND WHAT ABOUT ME? Well I like Americans, In my travels around the USA, I liked the open roads, large comfortable air conditioned cars, convenience stores, Doritos, Taco Bell, Howard Johnsons and the superb standard of living afforded to the middle classes. Maybe I'm really a closet townie. My only gripe would be that I thought American beer tasted like gnats piss. And that, Miller Real Draft in the clear bottle even looked like it!
I suppose if you come over to visit us, the towns geared up for tourists will welcome you with open arms. Just try and be a bit more reserved when you venture off the well beaten tourist tracks, and you'll fit in just fine.
Any comments, death threats or abuse on this BBS please.
Have A Nice Day! Nigel.