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Famously English

Why can’t the English…

They’ll always be an England, even if it’s in Hollywood. – Bob Hope

When I lived in the States, Masterpiece Theater and all of the British Crime shows were always my favorite. The accent, the atmosphere, the elegance. It all seemed so great. If it was a choice between an American show and an English show, I always picked the latter. I travelled to London with a friend and did a whirlwind tour of the English countryside with my mother and even though we mostly hated the food, we all thought it was the greatest to be in England and to be English.

Something about moving to Europe has fundamentally changed my view of the English. They seem somehow strange to me now. The Germans tend not look at the English with the same reverence that Americans tend to. I don’t know if it is because they were never a colony of them, or that the German royal house is related to the English royal house and so they feel themselves equals, hard to say. At any rate, there are lots of jokes about the English. That they insist on always saying “Great Britain and Europe” as if the English Island were somewhere way out in the Atlantic unrelated to the European Continent. But when it comes to “the largest stock market in Europe” (LSE) or “the largest airport in Europe” (Heathrow), England is suddenly definitely a part of “Europe”. Funny how that works.

That being said, there is something homey for me about being in a country where everyone speaks English (at least sort of) instead of a language that I didn’t grow up with. And I admit to still being seduced by the accent. I have been in London several times in the last couple of years. The only thing that makes me really crazy is that the English have decided that public garbage bins are too much of a security risk and have done away with almost all of them. In their defense, I believe there was a bomb in a bin some years ago so they may feel they have a reason to be cautious although doing away with them all seems a little over done. If you buy a drink or something from a kiosk you have to bring the cup back with you to your hotel. There is no other place to put it. And I am not sure I will ever get used to looking for traffic on the “wrong” side. Fortunately, the English have taken pity on the rest of us and most crosswalks have “Look Right” printed on the ground.

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