On Being British

I love being British. Much as I love America (and I do) I am very happy to live in a country where we don't have hurricanes, earthquakes, guns or fifteen-year-olds driving cars, and I rejoice in free healthcare, the BBC, and being able to get from anywhere to anywhere else by car in less than a day. Of course we also don't have Disneyworld, Taco Bell or drive-through banks and post offices.

I am well aware that most of my readers will be American. I think the map on the right proves that fairly conclusively. I could go on for weeks about the differences between the Brits and the Americans – in culture, outlook and language, but I’m going to choose not to. There are plenty of other blogs, sites and books on the subject - I especially recommend Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Big Country and Notes from a Small Island. Until I find I’ve run out of material and need to comment on the fact that “momentarily” here means “just for a split second” but “in a few minutes” there, I will leave it at an observation that any American whose name is Randy would be well advised on no account to introduce himself to anyone British.

Rather than comment on differences, I would like to use this forum to ask a some of questions about America which have been bugging me. Feel free to reply in the comments section.

  1. If what we call Petrol here is called Gas there, what do you call Gas?
  2. Are American pigs a different shape? The only bacon I could find during my visits to the US was streaky. Why don’t you have lean bacon?
  3. When everything there is so much bigger than it is here – houses, fridges, cars – why are your bathtubs so small?
  4. How much annual leave do you get in a year? When we went to Florida we booked two weeks in our accommodation. This seemed to cause terrible confusion at the office, leading to us having to move to a different apartment halfway through our holiday. They explained that they never have guests who stay more than a week (but the place really wasn’t that bad.) I get 4 weeks off work each year, plus public holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year, and that’s pretty standard here. Do American workers not get much holiday?
  5. Please will someone bring Taco Bell and Wendy’s here? Oh, but Thank You for Subway. We’re going there tonight. It’s the only place in Britain where you get free refills for your drinks, and so we are darn well going to drink the soda fountain dry.


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