OK UK?: Sorry America, I'm Still English...

Wouldn't I make a great King...?
Wouldn't I make a great King...?

Sorry, Still English...

As my Father would always say, “Well you’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?” which is the English way of asking for permission before humorously decimating, well, just about anything or anyone.

Luckily I am six thousand miles away in California, so I’m unlikely to come to any actual physical harm, however, I am perfectly positioned to look at my homeland with an interesting perspective.

England is weird as all get out.

I know this, we are unapologetically strange, or as we put it "totally doo-lally-tap' (like using phrases such as that one, which everybody knows, but no-one can explain!)

We wear our nuttiness with pride, using words such as quirky or eccentric or creative. It is as if the entire island woke up one rainy morning (aren't they all?) and said "Bugger normal, let's all be a bit more bloody unique."

The idea, as I understand it, is to clearly define 'us' and ' them'. Them being foreigners. We loudly, and very rudely, declare all foreigners as strange beings with weird habits. And then happily eat their food.

This is all a hangover from when we ruled the world. We had a great plan, back in the day. It involved being very arrogant, very rich, had a Protestant God on our side, and the most powerful Navy in the world. (No, no, America is totally different!)

First you land, then you steal, then you help them find the right God, then you introduce cricket, and, once you are comfortably ensconsed, you call them derogatory names. This, unfortunately, backfires, with the name-calling being the proverbial last straw, making the natives really, really, angry and suggesting you go back to your island.

Back at home, we hunker down in our neat bungalows (stole that one from India) wearing our best pajamas (ditto) drinking tea (there's a theme here...) and declare the ungrateful natives to be "Bloody… (fill in the name here)."

That particular figure of speech has become so ingrained, former Prime Minister Tony Blair was recorded at a diplomatic function talking about "the Bloody French." the news hounds of the world reported this diplomatic faux pas in horror.

The island of Britain, gave a collective shrug, and said, "well, they are".

(Notice how the phrase for really cocking things up is, in fact, French?)

It is singularly shocking to leave the cocoon of England, and discover yourself through other people’s eyes. And, even though we coined the term 'politically correct', we actually meant it as a joke. This is the natural home of scarcasm , (sarcasm that wounds), with an entire country expert practitioners of the art.

We have whole books, written by genuinely famous authors like Churchill and Wilde, full of pithy put-downs, and scorching observational humor.

While much of our derision is reserved for foreigners, we maintain a healthy level of self-excoriation. Nothing is seen as going too far, taboo or sacred, and what remnants of decency that were left after the sixties, got used up by the Pythons.

In some cultures it is deemed insensitive to be rude to one’s host. In England, a well-timed insult is considered de rigueur. I learned the hard way that what is deemed normal in dear-old-blighty, goes over like the proverbial lead balloon here in Cali. There was much marital discord as I blithely insulted my wife’s horrified friends in the mistaken belief that I was being both friendly and funny. Can you believe it? An insult is taken as an insult.

This meant I quickly had to learn to play with the verbal equivalent of a straight bat, and it was not easy I can tell you. Fortunately, my wife was also friends with a pair of Scottish ladies, and in no time at all we were insulting each other with reckless abandon. What a concept; sanity through sarcasm (it’s also how teachers survive on a daily basis!)

It’s been twenty years since those rookie mistakes, and I now embrace my American persona (such as using words like rookie,) but the memories are still painfully fresh.

Here, I am told that I have a cute accent.

Back home for my Father’s funeral, I horrified the mourners by apparently speaking with an American accent, though I took great pains to ‘Brit’ it up.

I now officially reside in a linguistic no-mans land, but when I write, as my editor/wife regularly reminds me, I still have an aversion to the comma, and i always start in the passive voice.

Sorry, still English…


Dear Hub Reader


If you enjoy this hub, please check out my book,

Homo Domesticus; A Life Interrupted By Housework,

A collection of my best writings woven into a narrative on a very strange year in my life.

Available directly from:

http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/homo-domesticus/12217500

Chris


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Comments 28 comments

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

This is great. Two for two. You are funny. I LOVE the voice here too. And Churchill and Wilde are two of my favorites of all time, up there with our own, homegrown Mark Twain and Ben Franklin. I've often said that one of the most amusing things to witness would be a debate between Wilde and Twain.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Thanks,

The perfect way to "write what you know", dis your life. Which of course begs the question, do you actually know a vampire or two? Or was there some memorable insect bite and you went way creative?


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

More of a confluence between Reilly's hub and my need for absurdity. I see things that start looking like bubbles and must pop them.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

(You two are going to get along famously.)

Good work here Chris. One point reminded me of the Mum of my dad's business partner. She was so Brit we strained to understand her conversation, but she said when she visited back home her friends always commented on her Yankee accent. I remember once when I was about 10 she invited us over to dinner and served a very special steak and kidney pie which was totally "foreign" to us. We tried to be polite-- wish I had known about the propriety of britbats.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio

I loved reading this! I write on the British web site...ABCtales. I crack up at some of the conversations and feed backs...always so dry..yet so to the point....and often funny.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

It's strange 'being niether fish nor fowl', but if I can make someone laugh I believe I've done my job for the day. Thanks Rochelle and Tom for reading, and commenting, makes it even more fun as I feel I'm writing for people, rather than just sending stuff out into the ether.

Chris


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

Yes chris i'm in Melbourne trying to hide and you still nabbed me. The aussies have a bit of a different sense of humour but they love being put down as much as us so we don't have to apologise the next day after a BBQ. I can't imagine playing with a straight bat but i'll remember that if i ever manage to make it to the US. Every time i go in a shop and i'm asked. "How are you?" i always say something daft like, "absolutely......average" Sometimes they appreciate it and other times they start looking for security. I still do it anyway of course being a nutty Englishman. Top hole hub my man. Cheers


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

I think you have it all wrong. I insult everyone I meet. It always results in my delight. Most often the whole crowd is laughing. My wife says that it is just nervous laughter, that they are just scared because it could be them that is next. I have lots of friends. I can count them on one hand, well at least on the hand that has one finger missing. Those people are true friends. My wife keeps telling me that they are drunks, and that they will laugh at the dog crossing a street. But I don't agree. These, my best friends, are intelligent and enjoy my witty repartee. Even if I often struggle to understand their utterances.

It is a fact, humorous attacks will elevate you in your social standing right here in America. (Except maybe in New England)


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Thanks for the responses, well except for StevoMc, his comment was crap (dont forget to roll the 'r' on the word crrrap - where would we be without Mike Myers?)

I will never forget the look on the face of my wife and her friend, along with the involuntary intake a very sharp breath, when visiting a friends house. My wife, a Cali girl, said the usual "what a nice home you have," and my response, naturally, was "Yeah, it's alright I suppose."

It was probably one of the most spectacular homes I'd even been in, honestly, they didn't know that?

I'm way more Cal-PC now, but in my heart...


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America

Rated Up and many other remarks.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Patty,

Thanks for reading. Have to ask, how often do you have to spell your name out for people?

Chris


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, Chris, absolutely bloody brilliant! hee hee I was laughing away to myself. You have got us completely right, and this was really funny! rated up and everything, cheers nell


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Nell, Thanks for the positives, I've been enjoying your work too.

Chris


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! You can check your email for the official notification as well or simply follow this link and read the Hubnuggets for this week...woohoo http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/Red-Carpet-Hub... Enjoy..


LAintheLBC 6 years ago

Chris,

I really enjoyed reading this! As I grew up on Derek & Clive...I totally understand the difference between Bloody good English humor and just "the other English" humor. After watching the BBC show Coupling last night for the 100th time...as nothing here is worth watching...lol I find your writing a refreshing cornucopia of humor. Keep us laughing!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

ripplemaker - needed to be careful typing that one - many thanks!

LAintheLBC - oh, I've got plenty more! My friends, the human one and the dog, are glad as perhaps I'll stop telling the stories to them. The dog still laughs, but he knows who feeds him...

Chris


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

Voted it up, Mr. Funny Guy. Great Fun! Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination and welcome to the Hubpages Community. Looking forward to reading more of your work. :)


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Denise,

Thank you. I'm really enjoying connecting with so many new, and truly interesting, friends here on hub pages

Chris


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

Very amusing! No skimming this work.I read every word!rate up! Congrats on being nominated for a hubnugget.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

bayoulady,

Thank you for the response. After reading some of your work, I realise that what I do lacks that level of gravitas, but if I can make somone laugh, it might make the world seem a little lighter,

Chris


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Totally enjoyed this and kudos on your nomination. It is fun having you aboard. My favorite tv star is Hugh Laurie - love that he can speak American English and use it with his weird (rude) sense of humor.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

You'd better be careful when you're typing in Cali girl, or the phone won't stop ringing!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

elayne001

Thank you for the positives. If you ever get a chance to hear Hugh Laurie play piano, go for it. He is an amazingly talented man. I just want to slap his character at times!, Aloha right back at you,

Chris

attempted humor, I noticed that! I type in a way larger font on my computer, and when it gets to Hubpages, things shrink, and a quick glance changes my wife's profession dramtically!!

Chris


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

Hi Chris,

Poor Little Expat.... What can I say ?

If being American is considered Normal, then I don't wanna be...!

Great Hub, from a fellow Brit who insulted the World in 25 years of travel. Stick to Sarcasm, it goes over their dumb heads, all you have to remember is to smile as you say it.

"Have a Nice Day !"

I'm smiling.... See it works.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Merlin,

Careful, now...

I'm happily married to an American, who is smart, funny, and beautiful, and have met many who truly appreciate clever humor.

I'd rather make someone laugh than poke them with a sharp stick, and as I point out in my other Britbat blogs, "our" version of normal resides in an alternate universe!

I'll enjoy the Cotswolds vicariously through you...

Chris


philmaguire profile image

philmaguire 6 years ago from Jersey, Iles de la Manche

I am surprised that you have not re-named it Limey County


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

philmaguire,

That would get me even deeper in trouble...

(Never actually thought of that particular fruit though!)

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment,

Chris

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