You like potato and I like potahto, you like tomato and I like tomahto…
But wait. Let’s not call the whole thing off! We’re alike in so many, many ways. But we only notice the different bits (and sometimes have a bit of a frown about it and call the other party a dibble).
So; in celebration of us all still being cousins, let’s examine what we actually have in common.
Imperial measures – Hah! I do hope you didn’t fall for the “England’s gone metric” hullabaloo back in the seventies, did you? Because we never did go metric, you know. Which is a shame in some respects, as I spent my entire education learning things in centimetres, metres, grammes and litres, only to have to re-educate myself in inches, yards, pounds and pints as soon as I left school. So yes, you’ll find roadsigns in miles and although shops may show the price of cheese in grammes, we still all ask for half a pound (and get it!).
Valley Girl Jokes – If you’re a fan of these, the good news is you can tell them all to English people who will guffaw with laughter. The only slight change is you’ll need to tell them as Essex Girl Jokes.
Unpronounceable names – Now don’t go blaming all the silly names on us. I know we have plenty of places that look straightforward and are anything but (Warwick is pronounced “Worrick”). However, you chaps have the same thing going on. Yes you do, too! Arkansas. Connecticut. Poughkeepsie. There.
Football – Okay, so yours is played by big chaps (who look even bigger due to the get-up) with what we would call a rugby ball and ours is played by comparatively weedy-looking specimens on a different pitch with a round ball, but both types can dominate Monday-morning conversation at the office, engender somewhat ferocious loyalty and occupy some males for hours on end in tactical discussion. Oh, and all the players are overpaid but end up owning bars.
Hallowe’en – In truth, we’re only just getting the hang of this one. When I was a girl we would get wildly excited about playing bob-apple and if we were very lucky indeed then someone might know someone who grew pumpkins and we’d get to make a lantern. Now our old folk get to cower in fear in inner cities as huge youths bang on their door wearing “scream” masks and I melt in gooey rapture as my neighbour’s two-year-old daughter knocks politely wearing her fluffy spider costume and giggles delightedly at being given a piece of flapjack.
Being Thin – We have definitely caught on to this one. In fact we’ve now reached the point where our two nations are so in agreement I can’t determine whose celebrities are the thinnest; American or British? All of them trying to out-diet each other and reach the all-important size zero. But oh. There we do have a difference. For your size six is our size ten. Which means your size zero is our size four. Which means for a British celebrity to be a British size zero she’d be a US size minus-four. And that’s too painful to contemplate; I’d better go and have a nice cup of tea and a few biccies (cookies) to calm me down.
Queueing – The British are known throughout the world as being queuers. Politely waiting in lines for the bus, for a Rolling Stones ticket, to pay at the grocery store, whatever. But whenever I’ve been in the States, there you are too, all standing oh-so-politely in very neat lines. Now you wouldn’t catch an Italian doing that.
Patriotism – We all know the Americans are patriotic. You’re famous for it. In England we’re a bit shuffly-footed about it, but it’s still there. Just try hanging the Union Flag upside-down and see how long it takes for the comments to flood in! N.B. The Union Flag is what you know as the Union Jack, but it’s only really called the Union Jack if flown at sea.