bigjohn

There is many a good tune played on an old fiddle.

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    I was born in 1939 BC. That's 'Before Computers'. Luckily I survived the following events in my life, such as World War II, The London Blitz, Rationing, and worst of all... Archbishop Temple's School.

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    During the mid 1950s I was enjoying Rock 'n' Roll and being a first generation teenager, when suddenly, just like Elvis, I found myself in uniform during 'The Cold War'...and then

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    During the 'Thatcher Years' I lost my hair and a lot of people lost a good deal more. My career fluctuated to say the least as I was demoted, promoted, fired and hired a number of times, but still I managed to stagger on into a welcome retirement and to celebrate 50 years of happy marriage.
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A transatlantic transition.

Posted by Big John on February 16, 2008

Leaving politics aside, I have always had a soft spot for America and it’s people, so my last post got me thinking about what has arrived in this country from the USA during my lifetime, some welcome and some not so welcome. Listed below are a few of my pet hates  :-)  and some of my all time favourites …

I could have done without …

  • Baseball caps, especially when worn at all angles.
  • RAP music and the ‘gangsta’ culture that goes with it.
  • Hamburgers, fries (It’s bloody CHIPS !), junk food in general, the habit of eating in the street and the litter left behind.
  • Cheerleaders. It’s just not British old boy: although I could get used to those young ladies from Dallas.
  • Reality TV shows. It all started with Candid Camera.
  • Parking meters and the wheel clamp (‘Denver boot’).
  • Barbecues, which ruin a summer’s day by stinking up the neighbourhood.
  • TV audience over-reaction, especially on ‘talk shows’. All that bleedin’ yelling, whistling, stamping and screaming usually to greet some ‘celeb’ who is completely unknown to me.
  • Budweiser, Rolling Rock, and all those other beers which get drunk straight from the bottle.
  • The shopping mall, otherwise known as the home of the living dead.
  • All that ‘skinny latte mocha’ crap spoken in all those places where they sell expensive coffee in cheap ‘paper’ cups.
  • Double names like Billy Bob, Ellie May and Cindy Lou. These should be reserved for people in those parts of the USA where they play banjos and diddle their sisters.  
  • ‘Trick or Treat’, along with all the other ‘special occasions’ which we copy so badly when conned into taking part by greedy UK retailers.
  • Peanut butter … with ‘jelly’ ? … Arghh ! … Quick ! Pass the bucket.
  • Religious nutters who knock on my door trying to ‘save’ me.
  • Chewing gum. Take a look at the pavement (sidewalk), and Manchester United’s open mouthed masticating manager,  Alex Ferguson.
  • All those TV soap operas. Did we really care who shot JR ? …      and  …
  • Those bits of the American ‘Language’ which have snuck in over the years.  

OK! .. So now for some of those more welcome imports from across the Atlantic  …

  • Those ‘over paid, over sexed and over here’ G.I.s, without whom I might now have been speaking German.
  • Spam. I still eat it.
  • Hollywood movies. A lifetime’s entertainment.
  • Motels. Remember searching for a boarding house ? 
  • Classic TV series like … Dragnet … M.A.S.H. … NYPD Blue … The Sopranos … and many more.
  • Tourists (well the quieter ones anyway), as they always call me .. “Sir”.
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll, which helped turn me into a first generation teenager.
  • T shirts and jeans. Made that ‘first generation teenager’ imagine that he was James Dean.
  • Coca Cola, but only with rum added.
  • Jack Daniel’s .. No Coke needed.
  • Lots of great music from the likes of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and so many others.
  • Pool, which, unlike snooker or billiards, can be played by almost anyone.
  • The ATM, (See, a bit of ‘American’ just snuck in) our Cash Point Machine.
There are some things which were invented in the US of A and belong on both lists, like supermarkets, credit cards, mobile (cell) phones and many other gadgets and gizmos, for they have often proved to be a mixed blessing; but the one that stands out most in my mind is the juke box; much enjoyed in the coffee bars and cafes of my youth, until someone had the ‘sacrilegious’ idea of installing them in pubs …

…  America !  You have a lot to answer for  !   :-)

9 Responses to “A transatlantic transition.”

  1. gawilli said

    I agree with things on both lists with the exception of…

    “Barbecues, which ruin a summer’s day by stinking up the neighbourhood.” You probably wouldn’t want to live next door to us. We make full use of the grill and smoker all year round.

    and…

    “Double names like Billy Bob, Ellie May and Cindy Lou. These should be reserved for people in those parts of the USA where they play banjos and diddle their sisters.” I have no particular feeling one way or another regarding double names. I guess I never gave it much thought. Although I have a middle name, there are very few who use it, particularly since my mother died. When they do, it is generally done in an affectionate manner. Where you lost me was with “diddle their sisters”. This is a generalization I would never make.

    Whenever I visit American friends, Gawilli, the first thing they do is take me into the back yard for a ‘cook-out’. Good fun, but I would prefer a ‘cook-IN’. Most Brits don’t seem to have a clue when it comes to grilling those steaks and sausages, or as I call them ‘burnt offerings': and as for banjos and inbreeding, well did you ever watch the movie ‘Deliverence’ when Burt Reynolds met all those charming ‘backwoods’ types ? :-)

  2. Lucy said

    My husband, who is a naturalized citizen of the US, and I were talking about how his country has changed. They have MacDonald’s, Ky. Fried chicken, fake christmas trees, and the young people wear all the latest styles like they do here. The whole world is beginning to look the same.

    I agree with most of your “could do without” list”, but I must take exception to one item. My mother called me Cindy Lou until she died when I was in my thirties. And none of my brothers played banjo or “diddled” their sister, LOL!

    I knew that I would find a ‘Cindy Lou’ somewhere, Lucy. Can you imagine walking down a street in England and hearing … “Come ‘er Sarah Jessica and bring that little bleeder Tommy Lee with you” :-)

  3. Ginnie said

    Yes, I have to agree with the double name slam you give us, John. I am a transplant from NY to North Carolina…home of the “Bible Belt” and “double names”. It was a culture shock, to say the least, but I’ve come to love the area and most of the people in it.
    A funny side note is that the only actual “sister diddler” I ever knew of was an Englishman!!

    An English ‘sister diddler’, Ginnie ! Much of the eastern ‘backwoods’ and mountains of America were settled by ‘banjo playing’ Brits, who where also pretty good ‘fiddlers’, so it had to start somewhere. :-)

  4. Oscarandre said

    Well, John, I could live without “high fives” but am quite grateful for Hemingway and Meryl Streep.

    Damn it ! Oscarandre, ‘High fives’ I forgot that one. :-(

  5. Imagine having the American Band playing full blast next door. That’s the way it is in Canada. Sometimes it seems like there is no border but since 9/11 the American paranoia is turned up full blast and their tendency to interfere is more blatant than ever.

    We are stuck in Afghanistan because of this the same as the UK. So if it doesn’t show on our faces I tend to be very suspicious of anything American.

    JWL

    These days many ‘Canadian’ tourists seem to come from places like Chicago, L.A. and New York, J-W. I wonder why ? ;-)

  6. I would be interested to know whether there is a list of British “exports” to the US, comparable to the above. In a sense, the whole American nation is a British export.

    I am never sure how long you can go on calling a habit or a garment or a consumer item “American”. Surely, if it takes root here it is because it has been welcomed and naturalized by at least a section of the British public. I dislike things like baseball caps because they are anodyne and lacking in character, as must be the people who wear them, but I have to admit that they are now as “British” as any other common accoutrement.

    My default reaction (an unfair one, I agree) is to dislike Americans on sight but I have met many charming and intelligent and admirable examples. Prejudiced, moi? Yes, apparently, but on occasion I manage to overcome it.

    A list of British “exports”. Now that would be a challenge, Tiger. I can think of a few things I would like to send there, starting with the bloody ‘royals’ who they seem to love so much. ;-)

  7. Terri said

    I really enjoyed this post! And I must say….I agree with you on all we sent “over there” that wasn’t good. Unfortunately, we’re still stuck with the bad stuff here.
    And I also agreed on the good things that’s come out of this country. You hit all the things that really mean a lot.
    Great post, John.
    Not sure I ever mentioned…but my dad was engaged to a girl from England during WWII…gee, just think, “I” could be speaking with a Brit accent now, rather than my Bostonian one, devoid of any “r’s” in my vocabulary.

    ‘Your dad was engaged to a girl from England’ … Blimey! Terri, I thought every G.I. was. :lol: and a lot of those ‘G.I. brides’ finished up in those backwoods with the ‘banjo players’ when they thought that they would be living in Beverly Hills or Palm Springs.. ;-)

  8. Terri said

    LOL…yup, I’m sure that’s exactly where those girls ended up.
    Yeah, her name was Jeanne Powell….I still remember that..lol He was on his way to send her a Western Union from Salem, Mass. after he returned home, to send for her. BUT…he met my mom that evening and well….the rest is history.
    And you made me go and REcheck the spelling of JURA…..lol I thought I was right.

  9. Red Baron said

    Ah, well you know me, and I’m as Listerine as the next European!!!

    Many things have come out of the US, but when it comes to the intellectual input much of this has been in spite of not because of. I spent a lot of my childhood over there and I loved it then because it was all big and brash and that appeals when you’re young. It’s the lack of substance that made me grow out of it. The mainstream culture has very little depth, that’s not always the case but it is the default anywhere outside the East coast.

    Speaking as a Paddy tho’ I think the English talking about what the world could live without from elsewhere is a moot point!

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