Returning to the USA after twelve year of living in Europe is proving to be interesting, to say the least. I had forgotten, for example, how wide and deep are the social and cultural divisions that separate Americans from their European cousins. Mainly, I refer to the ‘special relationship’ which allegedly exists between the USA and Great Britain.
Somebody once wrote of this relationship that, “We are one people divided by a common language.” Clever, but it doesn’t tell the half of it.
For example, last month I wrote about elected representatives in Wisconsin fleeing the State in order to avoid an inevitable defeat in their elected House. I find that hilarious; it reminds me of the noble knights from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” shouting, “ Run away, run away.”
Since both the Ed and I are not known for being shy about pillorying politicians and/or bureaucrats (whichever comes first) without a single peep from anybody complaining in the past few years, I thought our readers might find this mental picture amusing. Not so! We had a torrent of e-mails (well, two) from American expats, containing varying degrees of vitriol.
Clearly, we do not share a sense of humour with our American cousins; for example, Americans do not do satire. Satire, on the other hand, is at the heart of all British humour. Not even, to quote one of our correspondents, “what passes for British humour.” It is British humour. It involves the ability to laugh at ourselves – and Lord knows there’s plenty to laugh at!
Our American friends – not so much. Can’t do it, won’t do it. Laugh at ourselves? Oh, no! We’re far too important to do that!
The second thing is that we Brits have some accepted social habits in regard to how we converse with other people. We only insult people we like. Good friends will call each other all kinds of nasty names: the stronger the friendship; the stronger the insults. Strange, but true.
Ask any Brit you know. On which basis, I think Mr. S.H. from La Herradura is harbouring an affection for me, which is beginning to verge on the unhealthy. I just about fell off my Zimmer Frame laughing at your well-constructed and well-written communications.
More evidence of that ‘special relationship:’ no, not events in the Middle East. We Americans are obsessed. Forget about the Tea Party (the original), we want details – the dress, the honeymoon, the wedding! NBC (a major US TV network) not only has reporters in front of ‘Buckingham’ palace, but they also have a countdown clock – days, hours, minutes, seconds – to the big event on April 29th!
Our Tucson household will be one of the billions worldwide watching…luckily we have two TV’s, as I’m sure there must be a League One football game being televised at the same time!