Award-winning writer: Jackie Papandrew
Airing My Dirty Laundry!
I’m a big fan of the English. They are highly civilized, rich in culture and history. If only they’d learn to drive correctly and speak the language properly, they’d be a perfect people.
My family just returned from a visit to Merry Olde England , and I’m sorry to report that her inhabitants still insist on driving on the left side of the road. This is their way of paying America back for that little matter of a tea-party tantrum. Every time one of us Yanks looks the wrong way when crossing a road over there and steps into oncoming traffic, as one member or another of my family did repeatedly, the Brits have a chance to pick off yet another descendent of those ill-mannered colonists.
If you manage to survive this drive-by assassination attempt, the Queen’s loyal subjects will then do their best to make you loopy with their lingo. Despite having been native English speakers for quite some time, England has evidently failed to develop along appropriate linguistic lines. It calls potato chips crisps and French fries chips. It labels what is clearly a cookie as a biscuit and what is brazenly a biscuit as a scone. Spelling is handled haphazardly, as well, with the letter u added to words – like colour and honour – that have no business with a u. And an extra e is sprinkled into all sorts of words that would be far better off without it, while re is used to spell terms that everyone knows need an er. It’s enough to keep an American on the other side of the pond.
Then there is the bizarre nature of British food. On our first morning in London , we each bravely ate a dark, circular breakfast item deceptively named Black Pudding. This was served with what is apparently used to flavor all food in England – the ubiquitous Brown Sauce. Turns out, Black Pudding is a sausage made by cooking pig’s blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. No wonder these poor people tried to colonize the world in earlier times. They were simply seeking more tasty cuisine.
The Pig’s Blood Affair, as my children took to calling it, almost spoiled our appetite for exploring the Sceptre'd Isle. But I assured my crew that, in spite of a few foibles, the English are a lovely and lively bunch. And so we set out to savor the civilization that produced both Shakespeare and the Spice Girls. We went to palaces and castles, museums and galleries. We gazed upon statues, paintings and sculpture far older than our own country. We heard exciting tales of monarchy and mayhem.
We trembled with terror at the thousand-year-old Tower of London as we listened to stories of long-ago torture in the dungeons, of queens who lost their heads, kings (like a certain multi-wived Henry and the cranky, colony-losing George III) with too much power and ravens who even today rule the roost on the Tower grounds.
Our mouths fell open with wonder as we checked out the crown jewels and marveled at the majesty. A colorfully dressed Yeoman Guard at the tower, popularly known as a Beefeater, cheerfully reminded the uncouth Americans in the crowd that if we’d simply paid our taxes, all the culture and history at which we were agog would still be ours. You’ve got to love the British.
We also paid a call to that most iconic of English institutions – the pub. The English spend a great deal of time drinking very dark, very strong beer in pubs with names that start with Ye. This explains their legendary jolliness and also explains why they haven’t gotten around to correcting their driving or spelling systems. But maybe we just need to give them some more time. Rome , after all, wasn’t built in a day. And Britannia may yet rule the waves. If she could only give up the Black Pudding.
~ © Jackie Papandrew 2007 ~
Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at: JackiePapandrew.com
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