Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Being a Brit in America

Today's Terror Level is somewhere between Bert and Ernie. In NYC, we're still on a constant state of Bert. Can't wait until this War on Terror is won, so we can go back to Cookie Monster. I miss living in Cookie Monster's world. Back in Britain, I've just read that the Terror Alert level has dropped from A Bit Cross, to Irritated.
Okay, some things I've learned since moving to the US.
I've always been a bit of an accent chameleon. Though there was a weird time when my carefully-learned middle-class North London accent started slipping into a country-fied Norwich accent (not bath, not barth, but baaath, no idea why), and people from Norf London didn't believe I came from there. Anywho, I've been here for 10 years and still have a mostly British accent but I speak fluent American. Don't want to be accused of being a typical Brit refusing to learn the local language.
I've learned how to say tom-ay-to. I've learned that words with T's in the middle, like 'butter' or 'water', are pronouned with a D: 'budda', 'wadder'. I've learned that here in the North East, all non-alcoholic beverages to the exclusion of wadder are sodas. I've also learned that if you want to catch up with US popular culture of the 70's, 80's and 90's that you may have missed by not being here, you watch VH1, like 24/7. There's nothing worse than sitting in a bar while five guys talk about how great Jimmy Buffet is, and not having a frigging clue what they're on about. Now I know, see, and I realize that Jimmy Buffet makes me want to scrub my brain with a brillo pad.

Unusually, whenever I go back to the UK, my accent goes all Cockney, and I never spoke like that before. It's like I'm overcompensating in order not to get screwed over by cab drivers, but end up doing it all the time. It works both ways, actually. When travelling with my American wife, and we need to know how something new works, like the Oyster card, I can get her to ask about it. She'll get the most useful information, as she's a tourist, and has an accent. I'll get nothing, as I have an overblown mockney accent, and everyone presumes I know all there is to know about everything. Over here, when dealing with counter staff, or children, my accent tends to head closer to the US shore, simply because I don't need the hassle. In the end it's all about the hassle. I'm in a rush, I need someone to understand me instantly, I'll slip over to the appropriate accent.
More than anything, I miss British humour. We can get quite a lot of stuff on YouTube: Little Britain, The Fast Show, Spaced, stuff like that. And there's a lot of really crap shows like Are You Being Served? and Keeping Up Appearances, and whatnot. But most of all it's the stuff you forget about because you simply don't find it here. Like these letters from Viz magazine.
I just saw a van drive by with the company name 'Seafood Solutions'. I must admit, I didn't know seafood was a problem.
Martin Kristos

It is said that gentlemen prefer blondes. I hope then that lesbians prefer brunettes, otherwise we might have to organise some kind of
rota system.
Johnny Pring

I'm beginning to think there may be something in this climate change after all. Four months ago it was very cold and now it's quite warm.
Alan Heath

A woman whose daughter was hospitalised in a US tornado told ITV News that "God would make her better." presumably, that's a different God
from the one that almost killed her with a tornado.
M Lovejoy

"She can dish it out, but she cannot take it", I once heard someone say of me. And it's true - I'm a school dinner lady and I'm allergic
to mashed potatoes.
Mrs Pinches, Hereford

I heard on the news that the January storms had cost this country a billion pounds. What an utter waste of money. If anything, they did
more harm than good.
S Prodnipple, Scarborough

So Princes Harry and William are throwing a party to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their mother's death. I'm glad that they can
finally laugh about it, but throwing a party seems a bit harsh.
D Antarctica, Rhyll

I think Sir Paul McCartney should try to put his current predicament into perspective. In olden days, if you were unfortunate enough to be
robbed by an omniped, it would almost certainly be a pirate. At least he's going to come out of this alive.
Stella Matlock

What is it with diabetics? One minute they're on the floor with a loved one standing by screaming "Give him some chocolate! Give him
some chocolate!" The next day someone offers them a piece of chocolate and quick as a flash they say "No thanks, I'm diabetic." I wish they'd
get their story straight.
T Potter

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a bored housewife looking for some action. Eager to please the young lady I sent her my ironing. That
should keep her quiet for a while.

THIS new police knife amnesty is a bloody nightmare. I dutifully handed all my knives in and now I've got nothing to eat my dinner
Richard Karslake, Oxfordshire

TO THE zookeeper in 1978 who replied "I'll tell you when you're older" when I asked him why one of the monkeys stuck its tongue up another
one's arse: I'm 36 now and still waiting for that explanation.
Joe McKeown

I HAVE just returned from a diplomatic trip to the Congo and I can testify that at no point did I see anyone drinking Um Bongo.
Neil Palmer

I'M A terrorist, and when ID cards come into force I will probably employ great cunning and not declare that as my job. I'll probably say
I'm a grocer or something.
A Terrorist

WHY DON'T NHS bosses start hiring obsessive compulsives as nurses? Their attention to hygiene and constant hand washing would see an end
to MRSA outbreaks in no time.
Stu Bray

'Alton Towers - Where the magic never ends', or so the commercial says. Imagine my disappointment when it closed at 7.30.
Colum Hill

'Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak', sang Thin Lizzy in 1976, 'somewhere in this town'. Well, I'm guessing it's going to be at the prison.
There are many times when Americans like to lord it over us Brits. They like to remind us that we'd be speaking German if it wasn't for them. They like to tell us having a President is better than having a Queen. That being a citizen is better than being a subject. And going to the dentist is better than not going to the dentist. Stuff like that. My brother-in-law used to make fun of our TV. "You've only got, what, like, three channels?" I'd remind him it's five, and that he only has seven. The rest are cable channels, and we have hundreds of those. I also remind him that we had satellite TV about 10 years before the US really did, and we're going digital first, and my Mum had a cellphone before his Mom... But then I realise I'm heading towards what can only be described as a Pointless War of National Pride, and I try to save my PWoNP's for the French. Especially after seeing Henry V.
usually don't hear anything from anyone, really, until July 4th. Every year, my father-in-law and his friends will hold beers aloft and yell, "Down with British Tyranny!", then jocularly elbow me in the rib. I'm pretty used to it now, after almost 10 years, but if anyone does say anything else, I usually say, "The US is like a petulant first girlfriend. Sure, she says she dumped me, but really I was just looking for an excuse to dump her. So she goes away and does her own thing and I don't think much of her for a while, 'cause I have, like, about 50 different girlfriends all on the go at once. Then they all start finding out about each other and I'm getting dumped right, left and center, and sure enough, there she is, strutting about, being all high and mighty and saying 'I told you so' and whatnot, and acting like she's better than me and all the other girlfriends. And I'm like, nuh-uh! And she's like, for sure! Then one day I get the shite kicked out of me, and next thing I know, she's nuking Japan and that, and I'm like... WOAH! Can't we just be friends? So we've been kinda dating on and off since then."
Like I said, it's all about the hassle.
I've been holding off on posting this entry for way too long. Time to send it off. In parting, I'd like to leave you with yet another Doctor Phil McGraw quote. Dr. Phil reminds me of The Sphinx from the vastly underrated Mystery Men. I used to think he was straight-talking, and deep. Then he got his own show, and now I've realised he's just plain dumb.
Dr. Phil says: Sometimes you just got to give yourself what you wish someone else would give you.
Too true, Dr. Phil. Too true.

1 comment:

Eagle Eye said...

I left a comment way back on an Oct. post--just wanted to say I like British humor--Monty Python and "Coupling" and can't forget the original "Office".