The opening line ("The first thing I ever heard about Americans was that they all carried guns. ") reminded me of the kids I was teaching when I decided to leave for the US for a couple of years - in every class there was at least one kid who responded to my announcement with a comment along the lines of, "Ooh miss, you'll get mugged!"
The author of this article, Geoff Dyer, would clearly like to be American.
It turns out that the qualities that make us indubitably British — that is, the ones that we don’t share with or have not imported from America — are no longer conducive to Greatness. They actually add up to a kind of ostrich stoicism that, though it can be traced back to our finest hour (the blitz, the Battle of Britain), manifests itself in a peculiar compromise: a highly stylized willingness to muddle on, to put up with poor quality and high prices (restaurants, trains), to proffer (and accept) apologies not as a prelude to but as a substitute for improvement. We may not enjoy the way things are, but we endure them in a way that seems either quaint or quasi-Soviet to American visitors.Sadly, it's too long since I spent any significant time in the UK to really be able to comment on this, either to agree with it or refute it! Of course, Geoff Dyer's audience for this article is primarily Americans as the article was written for the New York Times and that may have something to do with the slant of the article.