Wishing a happy 4th July to everyone celebrating American Independence Day!
If you’ve read my About me page you’ll know I’m British, was born in Uganda, of Irish heritage, I now live in England and have lived in Austria, Germany and France. Every one of those countries has characteristics to be proud of. One day the world will be one single nation, governed by one body. And if we could pick out the ten best things from each country to keep, and make one brilliant whole, here are the ten things I love most about America:
- Americans are polite. I have a big thing about good manners. Here’s an example of American courtesy: when I was living in Germany there were a lot of US troops stationed near where I lived (this is going back a lot of years :) ) A friend of mine was dating an American soldier, and she invited me round to her house for dinner with her and some of her boyfriend’s mates. When I walked in her room, the Americans all stood up. They introduced themselves, shook my hand and made polite conversation. What well-behaved young men. It may not sound a big deal, but common courtesy isn’t actually that common. Americans pretty much always show natural good manners.
- Americans are full of positivity and enthusiasm. Everything is achievable, and they don’t moan about all the stuff we moan about here in the UK. Remember how it was before the 2012 Olympics? We were convinced it was going to be crap. We even had a TV series making fun of how rubbish it all was, before the Games had even started! None of this carping happens in the US. (Although I did think the sitcom was hilarious.)
- Barack Obama. I suppose this one is a bit like thinking other people’s parents are far cooler than yours when you are a teenager. If you actually had to live with them, you might feel different. On the other hand, when Barack Obama came to power it really seemed like a symbol of change in a new country, a sweeping away of old prejudices, and it literally brought a tear to my eye. Also, he’s very good-looking.
- The TV shows. Here are some of my favourites: Frasier, Cheers, Fargo, Twin Peaks, The Simpsons, Heroes, and my all-time favourite television series ever, The Wire.
- Hollywood. From Gone with the Wind to the Coen Brothers, and Paul Newman to George Clooney. Hooray for Hollywood!
- All sorts of things that are massive. “Everything’s so much bigger over there.” I thought this was just a saying, until the first time I visited and saw the Hudson. Now I know what a river is. It’s not the Thames, it’s the sort of river you can land a Boeing on. And there are lots of other massive things, too, like fridges in people’s houses that are the size of a small room, canyons, highways, states that are bigger than the whole of the UK. Where we take a trip to the seaside, Americans take a trip to the ocean. That says it all.
- Knowing how to put on a show. Before the FA Cup we sing a couple of verses of Abide with Me. In the US they have Prince playing live at the Superbowl.
- Fabulous wildlife. In England pretty much everywhere is either urban or intensively farmed. If we see an urban fox, it’s an exciting day, so this is one I really envy. Chipmunks, porcupines, raccoons, bison, alligators, iguanas, coots, all sort of creatures great and small. (We’ll leave out the snakes and scorpions, though.)
- The diners. If I had a local diner, you’d find me there every day, chatting to the waitresses and eating my weight in pancakes. And who knew bacon and maple syrup actually could taste this good together? Genius.
- Friendliness. Strangers stop and help you, and people you don’t know strike up a conversation. When I pulled my map out in New York to check my bearings, two people came over and asked if I needed help. This would never happen in London. Also, people actually like my English accent.
So wishing you a happy fourth July, and I hope you enjoy celebrating in the way you know how!
Do you agree with my list? What things do you love most about America? If you have anything to add to the list, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!