Rant: Coming to America by Simon Burdus

Simon Burdus 31 January 2008

certain traits are quintessentially British and I love them. I actively embrace them; I drink tea, I discuss the weather at great length, I believe a handshake is as good as a hug, I’m not forthcoming with praise and you can’t beat a good queue. I recently went on a cruise ship which was predominantly American and I’ve returned to England, not with a tan and a smile on my face but with a nervous tic and a grimace. I can’t cope with Americans, its official; they are not our ‘greatest allies’ but are in fact the antithesis of the British man.

My dislike for the American began whilst queuing in the airport for my flight from New York to Miami. There was me, standing with my passport and boarding pass in hand forming a line, and it was a very good, exciting, nice line. I would go as far to say I was enjoying it. The queue was moving forward but I know my queuing etiquette and thus was allowing people their personal space. Then, a man in a leather hat, ex reptiles on his feet and a wife the shape of a tumble drier took it upon himself to move into the gap in front of me. “Excuse me, you’re pushing in there” I stated, but was acknowledged simply by a grunt. He showed no remorse for taking my space. To make matters worse another queue began forming next to the queue I was in and began filtering into our queue at the boarding station. Filtering is not acceptable in any situation; get in line! But being British I bit my tongue and didn’t complain.

I made it on board, settled in and headed down to the cocktail lounge for the evenings entertainment. Big mistake. I took the lift, yes the lift, not the elevator, it’s called a lift, and was immediately squashed by a group of what must have been scientific experiments gone wrong. They again had no spatial awareness but what really annoyed me was the level of decibel at which they all talked. Chuck talked to Baaawwb (BoB) at great length about a ham he had eaten, evidently in one mouthful. Why make sure that everyone in a 17 mile radius knows exactly what you’ve eaten? They don’t appreciate innocent bystanders. I got out the lift feeling anorexic, and headed to the lounge to sit at a table to listen to the cabaret act. I ended up next to a table of Germans which was actually a respite – that’s how bad it had got.

The act entered that stage, a bleach blonde singing impressionist from Las Vegas. What wasn’t to love about this act? Well I’ll tell you; he was American and like all Americans he thought the whole world revolved around the US of A. He told jokes about highways, did impressions of people from Gilligan’s Island (eh?) and the I Love Lucy Show (what?) and then he really took the biscuit with his finale performance. He sang the American National Anthem; this was a holiday for all nationalities yet he thought that everyone on board would appreciate this routine. I was regretting not bringing a rusty needle with me to shove in my eye. However, it did make all the Americans stand up, which to be fair, would have made them easier targets for me.

After the “performer” we were subjected to a Karaoke. Now in Britain, as my friends know, I’m partial to a bit of a sing song in the Karaoke bar. But when we listen to the other singers we say when people are shit, reluctantly clap people who can actually sing and give an all round unimpressed face. This is not the American way. A young girl, about 16 sang typically a Shania Twain number about not being impressed about something; I certainly wasn’t – she sang like a French goose but to my amazement there was a standing ovation. This isn’t the British way: we don’t encourage people who are rubbish we tell them they are rubbish, and that’s what makes Britain great. I was shocked.

Up next was George from Miami and he apparently was too sexy for his shirt; I can assure you he certainly was not. I attempted a little ‘boooo’ when he finished and I felt so many hands reaching for their guns (only to realise they had left them at the security desk at the airport). I didn’t do it again. Americans love themselves so much they tell each other how great they are. This is how they operate in life, thinking they are great at everything. They think it makes them respected, it doesn’t it makes me annoyed.

This continued for two weeks and has made me return to Cambridge a quivering wreck. I love being British and appreciate being told when I’m shit, having my own space and talking about being caught in a gale. We can not live with our closest neighbours; they disagree with the basic British principles. There has never been a better time to take back the colonies.

Simon Burdus