Happy St George’s Day!
Many Englishers ( ;) ) in America are celebrating ‘English’ day today. That’s because it’s St George’s Day, who is our patron saint. Sadly, the celebrations aren’t up to St Patrick’s Day style (British reserve, perhaps?!), but there is a whole host of stuff going on and the English in the USA are certainly very proud of their roots!
I’ll be having a cup of tea and a scone this afternoon and attending a village fete right here in Maryland!
So, what’s St George’s Day all about?
Read my piece on it here, folks!
It would be remiss of me not to mention that it’s also Shakespeare 450th birthday! The dude rocks here in the USA as well as in the UK. There sure is a whole lotta love for that fella here. And it is timely that I am performing in Romeo and Juliet this very week. So, naturally, I wrote a piece about it! Read it here :) .
There have been some brilliant moments whilst performing this show at USA high schools.
The best American-kid-in-the-audience comment for me was this one (we were talking to the audience before the show):
“Are you British?! OMG! Say ‘I’d like a cup of tea and a muffin’.”
I say it.
“OMG! I love that accent! She’s real, like a unicorn!”
The kids keep asking if my British accent is real. It certainly is!
BUT, for the first time in the USA an American told me that he couldn’t understand my accent. This kind of hurt me. How weird.
I speak EVER SO clearly in the Queen’s English, don’t you know! However, I wonder if it’s sometimes more to do with the colloquialisms that I often use rather than my accent. I’ll ask next time.
The white t-shirt issue
A lot of American men here in Maryland wear a white t-shirt under their shirts. I mean, a lot of men. This interests me because I don’t know any blokes in the UK who do this. When I joked about it, I was reliably informed that it is there to act as a sweat catcher because it gets terribly sweaty round these parts!
I was also advised that some men think it’s gross that British men DON’T wear a t-shirt under their shirts because then sweat patches are on display.
Well, I prefer my men* with their shirts off, that’s all I can say ;)
(* most men ;) )
In this series, we’ve met a whole host of British expats, and John is one of them. Cor blimey, there are bloody loads of us out here!
John lives in the Bible-belt area of Louisiana, an area I am very keen to visit.
This is his expat story.
1. When you arrived as an expat, what were your initial impressions of the USA? Has it changed much since you’ve been here?
It was much warmer than England, I first went to the San Francisco bay area and it was late June and I remember just walking around at 6 in the morning thinking ‘My God, this is nice!’
2. Tell me a little bit about your area of the States, and what you love about it, and what drives you nuts!
I’m in Louisiana now and it is a French Cajun culture down here, the music is crazy good and the food is fantastic and the people are very eccentric (nuts) They are very friendly indeed but very insular and they ask me the dumbest questions like “What language do they speak in England” but I love them.
3. What things really highlight the differences between our cultures?
Pretty much their fierce patriotism and the way they think world ends at New York and California I suppose that’s why they call the Superbowl winners the world champions because America is the world to them.
4. How is your life different from at home? What are the challenges and frustrations you encounter?
I left Hull, England during the Thatcher years of the coal miners strike and the dockers strikes because I couldn’t find a job for love nor money. I was just sick to death of signing on the dole every week and there simply wasn’t enough jobs to go round. The biggest frustrations for me here in the USA are: living in the Bible belt (big time); people wanting to lay hands on me and praying for my soul; and the discrimination that’s still goes on today down here for both white on black and black on white.
5. Do you actively seek out a British community?
Oh hell yes! There are not too many Brits in Louisiana but the few I know get together on a regular basis for a Sunday lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire puds and maybe a football game on a weekend.
6. What’s your favourite British saying that you keep uttering? And which Americanisms have you adopted?
I like to say ‘They or he/she is taking the piss’ when they ain’t trying hard enough at work or asking for something they have no right to be asking for and I do find myself saying ‘Y’all’ once in a while.
7. Tell me 3-5 things you would take back to the UK from the USA.
Well, obviously the Cajun creole cuisine, the fantastic music scene they have round here, and the sunshine.
8. And 3-5 things you think the USA should have/implement from the UK.
Well, better schools is a big one; fish and chips, of course, with real fresh fish not bloody fish fingers; decent chocolate not the Hershey stuff made with wax; and probably a few better manners – Americans tend to be a bit rough in the social skills department.
Thanks John. As always, I welcome your opinions on expat interviews, and if you would like to participate, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org