Sunday, 18 May 2014

In which I am so annoyed by a stranger's blog, I am moved to patrotism

I'm not generally a hugely patriotic person.  I feel incredibly fortunate to be British, and English - there's certainly something to be said for not growing up in a war torn third world country (although being from Essex I'm not entirely sure my experience was completely dissimilar). However, I do like my country, and I dislike arrogant idiots, so when in the course of researching an article for work I happened to stumble upon a blog whose author was being really very rude about London, England and the UK (she seems to think they're all the same place...), supporting her assertions with outmoded stereotypes and gross generalisations, my moron sensors were activated.  Alarm bells started ringing.  And I started getting annoyed.  Very annoyed.

I was tempted to leave a comment, but as that particular post was written three years ago, it seemed overly antagonistic (although I was disappointed to see she's still posting now, so presumably has not died in a fire in the intervening period).  However, I'm not much given to letting things go (beware, I bear more grudges /than lonely high court judges), and there were so many problems with her post that needed deconstructing that I decided the only appropriate way to deal with this was to fight blog post with blog post.  And so, here we are.

Final thing to note before we proceed: as mentioned, she uses the words London, England, and the UK interchangeably.  She bases her professed disgust with England on one five day visit to London.  I'll try to keep up with her mixing her proper nouns, but it gets confusing.

Let's start at the beginning.  With her intro:

"England has never been on my list.  It just seems boring and uninteresting."

Well, fair enough, everybody has different tastes.  However, I find this intriguing coming from someone from Colorado.  I'm just saying, people in glass states shouldn't throw boring stones.  You also shouldn't write off an entire country without ever actually knowing anything about it.  I've been to the States and I'd happily go again.  Hey, maybe I'll even go to Colorado one day, if I ever develop a desire to go live in the mountains like some kind of cave dweller (whoops, I can be really mean about somewhere I've never visited too!)

Next up is a complaint about our "unaffordable dental care".  Dental care is not cheap, I admit, even on the NHS.  I fail to see how it can possibly be more expensive than in a country where there is no social option and they pay privately, but never mind.  I will just say that I'll happily pay a bit more for a six monthly check up than maybe other countries do while I know that if I ever have anything seriously wrong with me, I have instant access to world class healthcare that is FREE at the point of use.  I will never understand resistance to socialised healthcare.  It seems at best counter intuitive, at worst backwards thinking.  *Cough* North America *Cough*.

I'm now going to quote something that may shock and offend some of you.  Please look away if you are of a sensitive disposition:

"Yorkshire pudding - have you tried that crap?  It's disgusting."

It's oven baked batter, and it's delicious.  How can someone be offended by something so simple, so pure, so....tasty?  Did she misinterpret the name and try serving it with custard as a dessert?  One cannot dislike Yorkshire pudding.  DOES NOT COMPUTE.  She's going to get far worse about an entire nation's culinary skills but for the moment I'm going to leave you with these images:

England gave the world this:

The United States gave the world this:

The KFC Double Down Burger.  The culinary expertise that went into that one!  Two pieces of chicken with some cheese in between!  Whatever inspired the great chef to think up this masterpiece?  And it only has 32 grams of fat and your entire RDA of salt!  No wonder Americans manage to keep their weight to a healthy 25 stone (am I deliberately making crass generalisations about an entire nation?  Yes, I am!  Hurts, doesn't it?).

Ok, so that was just her intro.  I'm moving onto the meat of the main post now.  So we really start with:

"The annoying, condescending accent."

THE accent?  THE accent?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?  This another incident of her confusing London with England as a whole, being as that's the only place she mentions having been to, but fucking hell, it's not like there isn't a range of accents in the metropolitan capital!  THE accent?!  And if she is talking about England as a whole....It's just indescribable, that level of sweeping statement.  THE accent?!  There is a Liverpudlian girl in my office and with no offence to any Scousers I know, I wish she came with subtitles.  Absolutely genuinely, I've had entire conversations with her where I've had no idea what's been said.  THE accent?!?!?  Scouse, Geordie, Mancunian, Lancashire, Brummie, Bristolian, Cockney, Received Pronunciation...All sound identical.  Who knew?

Also, "annoying and condescending"?  No one can put you down without your permission dear.  It's a bit of an old stereotype that Americans suffer an inferiority complex with regards the class and culture of the motherland, but this women does little to dispel it.  To quote Nicky Wire, we're just naturally fucking intelligent.  Deal with it.

And so, we circle back to the food:

"English food is bland and weird".

Sweetheart, "bland" and "weird" have diametrically opposing meanings.  Pick one, because you can't have both.

"Oh holy hell!  Who would put a disgusting kidney in a perfectly good pot pie?!"

I don't know.  My grandmother did, but I haven't had it since because I'm not EATING IN THE 1950S.  Maybe some places still serve steak and kidney pie, I don't know, I don't look for it so maybe I don't see it, but don't pretend that you can't get plain steak pie, or chicken pie or whatever else it is you get in pies these days (I'm not a big pie fan, in general.  I guess I hate ALL English food, huh?), it's just dishonest.  And I refuse to believe that anyone could have a problem with roast beef and roast potatoes.  Think it's bland? That's what horseradish sauce is for, they keep it right on the table.  And you hate full English breakfast?  So Americans hate bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns and sausages?  Because I'm pretty sure I saw a burger in the States that had all that in it.  Fish and chips?  Yeah, Americans are totally opposed to anything served in batter, those health nuts.  Cheddar cheese?  Gross.  Bangers and mash?  Don't be ridiculous, Americans would never touch complex carbs.  Dairy Milk?  Ew.  Everyone knows Americans like their chocolate to taste of vomit (seriously, try Hershey's chocolate, it tastes exactly like sick).  I could do this all day.

Next up, we decide to round upon the English fashion sense, because again we dress exactly the same and London is representative of the entire nation:

"They were the biggest congolmerate of some of the most unfashionable people I've ever seen.  It's like the English get dressed in the dark or something."

Again, England/London, same place, apparently.  And I'm not convinced she stopped to check the nationality of the majority of people she saw walking down the street.  And that's relevant because like all American tourists (stereotypes are FUN) she only went to the big tourist attractions, meaning everyone she saw there was a tourist.  In fact, is she certain she wasn't looking in a mirror?

Here are some designs by English fashion houses:

Alexander McQueen:
Urgh, THAT dress.  Can you remember the global furore about how much everyone hated it?

Stella McCartney:
Wouldn't be caught dead in any of these.

Classic tailoring, schmassic tailoring

Paul Smith:

Well boring.

I could go on.  I thought I'd do side by side comparison with some famous US designers, but I couldn't think of any, so here's a picture of a Kim Kardashian:

America: keeping it classy.

Think posting images from professional fashion shoots is unrepresentative of actual English fashion? So's posting a picture of one man on the tube with shoes that don't match his suit.

Onto the weather:

"The sun doesn't come up until, like, noon, if it ever does."

You visited in November, moron.  Except the sun still rises around 7.30am even in the depths on winter...Wait is she sure she wasn't in Finland?

And then the press:

"You'll have to wade through the crap to get to the financial section."

Or you could buy the Financial Times?

"Guess where the tabloids first debuted in 1900?  England"

Guess where newspapers in general debuted in the 16th Century, brainbox?  England.  You can still buy broadsheets, like I don't know, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, off the top of my head.  And you can buy tabloids that aren't red tops, like the Independent or the i.  But much easier to pretend they don't exist to prop up your negative view, I guess.

And music:

"The good days definitely ended with punk"  (Backs up her view with existence of the Spice Girls)

Yeah, I  forgot Britpop never happened, that was a dream I had.  The Smiths?  Morrissey probably made them up, like he did the whole game-changing New Romantic/Electro scene.  David Bowie?  Who's he?  Certainly not one of the biggest musical acts in the entire world, who saw the best of his career in the 1980s. Adele?  Not my cup of tea, but she's in the Guiness Book of Records about 12 times for all the musical awards she's won and records she's broken, but maybe she's secretly from the States?  

Adele: has not won multiple Grammy awards.


"Luckily, culture is everywhere in England. After all, it is the birthplace of William Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the English language. Says who? Says Wikipedia. So it must be true. His plays were translated into every modern language. And you'll be happy to know that the rich tradition of live theater lives on here. The evidence of it is everywhere. Big, pink posters declaring Legally Blonde "fantastic" and "blows other musicals out of the water". Uh, REALLY? Now I didn't actually spend any money to see it, because I hate musicals and being raped by the Pound, personally. But, (and I'm just guessing here) it's no Shakespeare. So it's yet to be determined. Will Legally Blond be pronounced legally dead or will it be translated into Swahili? I'm on the edge of my seat in anticipation and sitting here reading the dictionary while I wait for the verdict."

"Raped by the pound"?  Everyone loves it when you diminish the status of rape as a serious crime.  Did feminism not reach North America yet?  But, pushing that aside, I'm intrigued by the assertion that because there is a Legally Blonde musical there is obviously NO GOOD THEATRE ANYWHERE IN ENGLAND.  I guess I fucking dreamed seeing Corialanus live from the Donmar this year?  And Hamlet at the Young Vic.  And The Islanders in Bristol.  And A Doll's House and Miss Saigon in Birmingham. Cos, I've been dreaming about a lot of plays lately.  Maybe I should see a doctor.  Pretty sure I did see Avenue Q at the Noel Coward Theatre though.  The very, very, American musical.  I thought it was hilarious personally.  But to quote someone we all know far too well by now, "it's no Shakespeare".

Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus: not a thing that happened.


Onto the traffic:

"But, the most treacherous thing about London traffic? It's walking across the street. You see 99% of the world drives on the right side of the road. And by right I mean right side of the road. And 99% of those crossing the street in London are foreigners. So, 99% of people are going to look left, even if your condescending crosswalk reminder says to look right."

How is it condescending to give helpful advice on how to not get hit by a car?!  I suppose we shouldn't fucking bother.  And because "everyone else does it", is that really a good reason for us to change?  If all of her friends were jumping off cliffs for fun, would she?  Probably, actually.  And 99% of people crossing the road being foreigners is an interesting one, but I have to give it to her.  I have a confession to make.  In my 31 years on the planet, I have never crossed the road in London.  I've remained on the left.  I see all these foreigners doing it (and miraculously not being mown down by the traffic?) but I've been too scared.  Oh, to be a brave American!

"And who the crap looks down at their feet when crossing the street?"

Uh, you did?  Else you wouldn't know about our "condescending" (there's that word again.  Feeling inferior, much?) signs, or have been able to take the photo of one you posted.  Idiot.

"Not my brother, a casualty of looking left when he should have looked right, who got assaulted by a mirror on a double decker bus right after we said goodbye on that fateful day. Don't worry, he's ok (sic)."

Oh thank Cod, I wasn't hoping he'd died just out of spite, by this point.  Assaulted is an odd choice of word when she admits it was her brother who deliberately stepped out into traffic after looking the wrong way, rather than the bus driver targeting him because he looked like the wanker he almost certainly is.  I mean, this sentence pretty much sums up this woman's woeful world view.  Goes to another country, doesn't observe the rules of that country even though they're clearly written for everyone to see, then blames us when she (or in this case, the brother, gets hurt).  I mean, SERIOUSLY?  If bet she's at some point been to Australia, ignored multiple signs saying not to approach wild kangaroos in wildlife parks, and then blamed "stupid Australia" when one kicked her in the face.  Although the head injury might explain a lot of the subsequent blog posts, I suppose.

My point?  I was brought up to believe that if you didn't have anything nice to say, you shouldn't say anything at all, but I suppose ALL AMERICANS (gross generalisation status: active) weren't quite so well brought up.  

In other words, shut your mouth, you rude, mean, stupid, uneducated, ignorant and nasty piece of work.

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