The first time was for the obligatory school trip to France when I was about 14. We got on a coach before the sun came up, went over to Calais on the ferry and did our best not to succumb to seasickness (some more easily than others), spent an hour with a group of French school kids who spoke as little of our language as we did theirs, went round a hypermarket where we were instructed to buy some typically French food (I brought chocolate) and then came home again. It was a very long, pointless day. The only thing I learned was that French chocolate was yummy.
The only other time I left England was to go to Corfu for a week with an old boyfriend. I was so unaccustomed to the heat that I was struck down with heat stroke on the third day and spent the rest of the holiday in bed.
However, neither of these experiences have put me off going abroad again. There are two places that I am determined to visit, and both of them are in America.
- I want to pay my respects at the site of the World Trade Centre.
- I want to go to Madison Square Gardens, Liberty Island and Central Park.
- I want to dance on the giant keyboard in F.A.O. Schwarz.
- I want to see a show on Broadway.
- I want to see the jumbo screen in Times Square.
- I want to have a hot dog from one of those stands that stand on the corner of the street like you see in the movies.
Images of America were a big influence throughout my childhood and teenage years, as it was for a lot of people of my generation. I grew up watching programmes like "The Kids from Fame", "Blossom", "Beverley Hills 90210", "Saved By The Bell" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air". We were led to believe that Americans fell into two categories: they were either beautiful, slim and wealthy, with big cars, walk-in-wardrobes and ridiculously white teeth, or they were drug dealers who roamed around in gangs, carrying guns and selling drugs. Don't you just love stereotypes?
Of course, I don't believe in all that nonsense. From what I gather, the biggest difference between us and them are words. We are two countries divided by the same language. What Americans call jello, the English call jelly. What Americans call jelly, the English call jam. Sidewalk = Pavement. Crossing guard = Lollipop Man/Lady. Apartment = Flat. Sneakers = Trainers. Eraser = Rubber. Etcetera, etcetera.
(Oh, and we pronounce herbs Herbs, because it has an H in the front!)
Anyway, the point of this blog is that 99% of the followers of this blog are American, and I wanted to ask my American friends how they perceived England and the English. I'm genuinely curious to know what you think of us. So, if you don't mind, could you tell me...
1. What are the most common stereotypes of the English?(For example, a common misconception over here is that Americans are either obese or addicted to plastic surgery, and they all have access to guns. Again, I know this is nonsense, but this is what some of my lesser intelligent countrymen/women would believe. Idiots.)
2. What have you heard or do you believe about England as a country?(And please don't bother with the obvious one: Yes, it rains here. A lot. The English truly are obsessed with the weather. It's very, very boring.)
(Because I can tell you, most of us don't really give a damn about them in all honesty. Half of us won't bother watching the upcoming royal wedding.)
4. Without Googling it, do you know who our Prime Minister is?(Americans seem to be much more into government and politics than we are.)
5. Who is your favourite English (or British) band/singer?(My favourite band is Def Leppard, but a majority of music I listen to is by American artists.)
6. Have you heard of any of these people (again, please don't Google them first)?
7. Do you have a favourite word or phrase that you've only heard used by an English person? And are you sure you know what it means?
(This may seem like a strange thing to ask, so I'll explain... I'm a massive Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, and some of the words Spike used would never be allowed on English television before nine o'clock in the evening because they're too naughty. It made me wonder if the writers of the show knew what the words really meant.)
8. Would you like to visit England? If so, where and why?
Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer them. I'm hoping to get responses from lots of different bloggers and do a follow up to this post at a later date. And if there's something else you want to tell or ask me about your thoughts of England or the English, please let me know.
I just looked out of the window. It's not raining. I think I'm in shock.
(Click here for Part 2... please?)