Thursday, April 26, 2007

Writers on America

I've just started reading the articles at Writers on America from the US Department of State. It looks as though there is some interesting reading there. I noticed that the site has been translated - but only into Arabic. Clearly a propaganda piece, yet not entirely 'rah-rah'. Julia Alvarez, for example, talks of the difficulties she and her family faced on their arrival in the United States, and I would guess some of the other articles are equally honest about the imperfections of the American 'melting pot'.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I remember someone telling me once shortly after I arrived in the US that a big difference between the US and the UK is the can-do attitude over here. If someone in the UK said they were thinking about maybe writing a book, the reaction would be, "What, you?" If someone in the US said the same thing the response would be "Go for it!"

I wonder how much that has changed with bloggers like Tom Reynolds, Petite Anglaise and others getting publishing deals now and becoming celebrities?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The British Abroad

To balance my earlier post on why some Americans shouldn't be allowed to travel - the British on vacation abroad don't have a particularly good image. Charles Bremner wrote in his Paris Weblog
In the old days, the Americans stood out among the visitors, for dress and behaviour. Now les anglais often draw attention to themselves while the Americans -- on the defensive in France -- try to blend in more.

Magwitch writes :
"unfortunately the most hideous people I’ve ever met when travelling are ignorant, load mouthed Brits who won’t attempt the language, the food or the culture and are generally obnoxious to everyone."

NoJags Neil writes
The perception of the British abroad is not a good one, and the absence of pissed-up promiscuous British twentysomethings on our recent holiday to Egypt was refreshing.

I don't think it's so much the individual Brit abroad, or even small groups, but mostly the larger groups that create this poor image. The chances are much higher that a Brit on a tour versus one travelling independently will be an obnoxious twit. Ditto for other nationalities.

The dark socks with sandals - such an attractive look - not! And the lobster-colored skin - de rigeur when travelling to warmer climes. Do men really still wear knotted hankies on their heads though? I doubt it nowadays, though I think I remember my grandfather doing that when sitting out in the sun in his garden.

Adam Dalton has written a far more comprehensive article about the British tourist overseas than I have time to attempt: The British Abroad - Not a Pretty Sight!

Saturday, April 07, 2007


I don't remember a bunny ever having anything to do with Easter when I was growing up. He may have shown up at other people's houses, but certainly not ours, where Easter was a religious holiday. We got chocolate Easter eggs, but from our parents and grandparents rather than a bunny, and there were no Easter egg hunts. Dear Husband grew up with different traditions, although Easter was still definitely a religious holiday for his family. The Easter bunny always brought him and his brother things like balsa wood airplanes or a kite - toys with an outdoor focus. They always got a chocolate rabbit too. I would bet they got Peeps most years too as my father-in-law loves them. Sometimes the bunny brought them a toothbrush!

For the moment, the Little Americans in the house think Easter is all about the rabbit. The Little American probably knows more about Passover traditions than the religious nature of Easter even though she does have a book of Bible stories that she enjoys reading, and often reads the stories aloud to her brother.

As the kids were going to bed tonight they wanted to be sure that their baskets were put out in the living room and some carrots left for the bunny. They then had a very intense discussion with each other about how the bunny is going to get into the house. "Well we don't have a chimney, so he can't get in that way." "He can't come in through the door because the alarm would go off. He must come in through the window." They are evidently unaware of the concept of a motion-activated alarm or what the little boxes with the red lights in the corners of the rooms are for. They also haven't noticed that all the windows are locked. Hmm - I'd better go and check and make sure they haven't UNlocked any! I wouldn't put it past them!

I've just finished filling plastic eggs to hide around the back yard in the morning. The raccoons would find them if we put them out now! I don't know what they'd make of plastic eggs as opposed to the real thing (which I know they love), but I'm sure they'd check them out pretty thoroughly!

Dear Husband is looking over my shoulder and comments that he had contemplated going outside to collect some of the wild rabbit droppings from the lawn and leaving them next to the baskets in the living room! Fortunately, he decided not to bother.

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