I've always had fun mocking the English (this is Greg writing), mainly their accents. If I go too far with it I explain that I'm a quarter English and that gives me permision to have fun at "our" expense. This past two weeks Kori and I got to see for ourselves what the British are really like. We loved the experience. Here are some things that Kori wrote up about our encounters with my "kinsmen".
1.) They’re NOT snobs
Somehow I (Kori) had in my head an austere and critical people. This is probably a misinterpretation of their humor, combined with the fact that we Americans are, of course, their rebellious but successful adolescent kids. Turns out, though, they are generous with their smiles (okay, smirks), and more than willing to stop for a chat. We have often had complete strangers engage us in conversation, and they’re always ready to cheerfully give us directions, throwing in a “That’s alright, dahling” to boot.
The pastor mocked the French, the Scottish, and the Czechs from the pulpit. I was called a kook by my waiter for being gluten free. But it was all with a hidden grin that let me know that instead of excluding, they were including. It’s not PC, but it sure is funny.
3.) Giant freakin’ roses
I felt like I was in Alice in Wonderland. Rose arches, roses climbing buildings like ivy, the biggest, more beautiful, richest colored roses I have ever seen. These Brits aren’t kidding around with their gardening.
Take courage Americans! We are not the only country that doesn’t bother to learn another language! Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m learning my fourth language and I would be the first to laud the benefits of being able to speak more than English. But I’m tired of Americans talking like we’re inherently stupid or egotistical because of this flaw. So we were born into the world’s universal language. That doesn’t make us better than everyone, but it also doesn’t make us worse. The English live in Europe, for goodness sake, and (with numerous exceptions, including immigrants) they get by with just English.
From a 800 year old pub (!!) where Bill Clinton “did not inhale” to skeletons seeing the light of day for the first time in 1500 years, the whole country is layered with memories of people who have gone before.
6.) The rain in Spain…
More than once I’d be walking the streets, overhear people chatting, and wonder whether they were speaking English. For a geographically tiny country, there sure are an awful lot of British accents. Some of them are even intelligible.
7. Fourth of what??
Turns out, the English don’t celebrate our Independence Day! Okay, so it’s not much of a surprise. But it was quite ironic, spending the Fourth of July in England. One impromptu “Star-Spangled Banner” from our little American contingent was the extent of our celebration. As Bradley put it, “Celebrating the Fourth of July in England is like waiting for someone to tell you “Happy Anniversary” after the divorce is finalized.”