Not too long ago I was sort of roaming around on the interweb and came across this video ~
~ from YouTube personalities Joel & Lia, discussing what they like about America. It was pretty friendly and funny, so I decided to look around a bit. Perusing their site, I saw that they seem travel to America a lot, therefore put out, amongst other topics, a fair amount of comparisons between the U.S. and U.K. (I confess I loved their language ones, which reminded me a bit of my fondness for using literally translated phrases from other languages into English to kid around with people.)
It also got me thinking in the opposite direction to what they discussed, and the things I like about the U.K., and it was pretty easy to come up with a few. While I admit my list is not exactly of the same flavor as Joel & Lia’s, which tends toward elements one might happen upon as they are actually traveling through American streets and society, I also point out that this is a deliberate move on my part, as there are many American readers who have not in the past or don’t have the chance very soon (or may never) to make a journey to Britain. I wanted to talk about things that everyone interested would have a better opportunity to look into or learn about, even if they have to do it from a distance. Of course, that could lead to something more up-close, which naturally would be fantastic. So let’s have at it! In no particular order ~
5. Loads of historical sites ~ Of course, we do too, and many (most) other countries’ sites go back further in time, as do Britain’s. Perhaps that my own family’s heritage comes from this little island is what draws me, but also there’s an angle I don’t hear many people discuss, and that is that we have a shared history. The events that brought America into being are also, of course, part of British history, and before these, our history traces back to Britain. So when Americans sift through history before, say, the Tudors, they’re also exploring their own country’s journey through time. And what a journey it was! I confess to being jealous of the ability to look at items, “in the flesh,” so to speak, that date back to Alfred the Great or Harold Godwinson or Richard III and those who lived in these times. The links between so many of these people, and even commoners, replete with twists and turns, is so fascinating to study and fills me with awe to know that someone who lived, monarch or ordinary person, 500 or 1,000 years ago wrote this document or purchased that item. I continually think about their ordinary days and what it might be like to have experienced life at this time. I’ve often heard it said that we are the descendants of survivors—our ancestors survived plague and rebellions, wars and massacres (and much more), and I often wish I could talk to the people who contributed to what and who I am today.
4. They have great music ~ Again, we do too, but I don’t think anyone can deny that the British Invasion of the 1960s, influenced by our own homegrown blues, was simply fantastic. The Beatles aren’t going away (my eighteen-year-old son thinks I’m crazy to rate them after Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd) and Traffic’s music reaches deep into your soul, as music should. As a teenager I was addicted to David Bowie, and there were a number of others who followed these larger acts that I later learned about and who fed my hunger for ideas (on various levels), music and identity.
3. Bubble and Squeak ~ If love of music is as universal as I believe it to be, then so is conversation around and about food, and one thing I’ve found I have in common with many people is that we all agree leftovers are simply fantabulous. Sure, it’s often the case that the spices and all-around flavors that group together overnight are more intense, and thus supremely delicious, the next day. However, I also believe it to be something in our psyche that gets touched, which is why even breakfast for dinner, or midnight eggs and toast at a diner, can be a memorable feast. It’s not fancy, but the company kept around the table, especially if any of the participants joined together to prepare the food, seals the deal. So is it with Bubble and Squeak, by definition left over, and by company something to remember for always. It doesn’t hurt that I simply adore repurposing food, which so often reminds me of my Scottish granny (who had her own version of Bubble and Squeak) in her tiny kitchen.
2. East Anglia and Dartmoor ~ I’ve never been to either of these places, but for some reason unexplained, I’ve developed an obsession with the first and own a growing interest in the second. I joke about having lived in East Anglia in a past life and that perhaps this explains my attachment to it. As for Dartmoor, well that surely traces back to having seen it discussed in a documentary about Edwardian times and leading me to contemplate how places now of growing interest to us were wild and frightening to our ancestors, places to be avoided. In truth, I’d probably be afraid if I lost my way in the middle of a moor, though also crossing my mind would be how we often regard my own land: a dangerous beauty that can reward one greatly with its bounties or bring devastation if its wildness is not respected.
Honorable Mention: Rain ~ We get rain, but it’s “spit,” as I’ve heard people from Outside call it. We rarely get thunder and lightning, and so whenever I watch a movie set in, say, London, with its famous rain pouring down, I long to cuddle with a book by a window and periodically look up to watch it streaking against the glass as it pours down, with the occasional thunder and lightning, the sort that people hide from under their beds.
1. Richard III ~ I enjoy history, but King Richard III is perhaps the most meaningful to have crossed paths with. Having embarked upon a study of him following “a quick read” (that has lasted now since just over ten years), I was intrigued to discover that we have him to thank, at least in part, for our perspective on justice, specifically pertaining to his legal reforms, including strengthening of the bail system and prohibiting the confiscation of property before conviction. This is linked to our belief in “innocent until proven guilty” held in great esteem in America today. He also strengthened use of the English language, especially and including in the printing of statutes. His removal of trade restrictions on books, paired with the aforementioned support of English, promoted the spread of knowledge, an enlightened and progressive attitude that I daresay even some today seem to work against.
Given that there is lots more to love about this island
nation – and in many more far-flung areas – I’ve already decided that
we will be re-visiting this topic, so stay tuned!