Monday, 2 July 2007

The British Are Coming!

I've been in the USA (specifically, California) for a little over two years now, and I feel that I'm becoming a veteran of Independence Day and other American holidays. I understand the difference between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day, and I understand that you celebrate President's Day and Columbus Day (although he didn't discover America, just the West Indies). I don't quite get how, despite your evidently strong religious beliefs, you don't have a holiday on Good Friday, and I still miss the UK's Boxing Day holiday.

I'm still struggling to remember the seasons of these holidays, although one is pretty plain, even to the dumbest of Brits. I refer of course, to Independence Day, (or the Fourth of July as it is also known) - a day set aside to celebrate your liberation from the dreadful yoke of British royalty and taxation. There was some fuss made about some tea in Boston, and some dreadful fellows tipped the precious cargo into the briny, and ever since then you have rubbed salt into the wound by not making tea in an approved manner (although I have to admit that mostly, you make better coffee than the British).

Now I'm not going to go on about that topic (suffice to say that I refuse to ask for "hot tea") but I will allow give you a quick reminder of the email forward that many of you will doubtless have received some time ago. Allegedly from John Cleese, regarding the revocation of American Independence, he proposed that...

...in the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves...to aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

  1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium."...
  2. There is no such thing as "US English." We will let Microsoft know on your behalf....
  3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard...
  4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys...
  5. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen"...
  6. You should stop playing American "football." There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American "football" is not a very good game...
  7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler...


It does go on a little, but is worth a read if you've a decent sense of humour. The full text is given at Snopes, along with an equally satirical response.

Okay, time to come clean. I've learned a lot about America, "Americanisms" and the evident superior attitude of the average Brit, who disdains some American ways because of some basic ignorance of history. Most of these are linguistic things, like color for colour, and the "girly pints of beer", and I may well address some of these in this blog, over time. This isn't to say that I don't occasionally wind up my Merkin friends, neighbours and colleagues, and even my delightful American wife. After all, you beat us in that war thing a couple of hundred years ago, we have to get our own back somehow.

Finally, I will allow myself myself a soup├žon of pleasure by relaying an anecdote from about a year ago, during a discussion of what I was doing for the Fourth. I was asked "...do you have the Fourth of July in England"? As God is my witness, I didn't know how to respond.

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