Sunday, 13 October 2013

Transatlantic swings and roundabouts

If there's one thing I really have no interest in whatsoever it's politics, but one thing that occasionally rears it's head is mention of this so-called 'special relationship' between Britain and the USA.
Funny thing is, nobody ever seems to be able to clarify exactly what is special about it.
I suppose we have a closer relationship with the American people than we do with, say, the French, but I daresay that may have much to do with language and history. Say no more....
When it comes down to it, perhaps it's simply about sharing a common language and way of life, although that does beg the question of why no mention is ever made of a 'special relationship' between Britain and Australia.
When browsing the web though, particularly on forums and suchlike, it's surprising how many people find it necessary to slag each other off based on ill-informed opinions on each other's geographical location. An endless parade of 'stupid Brits' and 'bloody Yanks' based arguments that do nobody any favours and only serve to make the individuals on either side sound ridiculous.
Yes, there are differences between the two nations and although I'm far from being any kind of expert I thought I'd see what I could come up with to show how different or alike we are either side of the Atlantic, and given that around a third of the hits this blog gets are from the US it's a golden opportunity to actually get some feedback. I've been doing this blog for quite some time now and I've not had a single comment. Just as well I do it mostly for my own amusement...

First of all I'm going to mention ice-cream. I've never been much of a fan of ice-cream, and for many years I've wondered what all the fuss was about American ice-cream. However, a couple of weeks ago the usually expensive Ben & Jerry's ice cream was on offer in the supermarket and in an uncharacteristically frivolous move I grabbed a tub from the freezer.
After dinner that night experimentation commenced and after just one spoonful I came to one simple and unpatriotic conclusion - British ice-cream sucks. Seriously, virtually every ice-cream I've tried in this country has left me unfulfilled, especially the normal cheap stuff in the big tubs which is so filled with ice crystals, the water content must be huge. So there's one difference - America can do ice-cream, but Britain can't.
That little victory can be offset though, because if there's one thing we do seem to do well it's chocolate. I've tried some American chocolate and frankly it's like the ice-cream scenario reversed. Dull, uninspiring and tasteless.
And let's not forget about beer. Britain has an incredibly long history of making great beer, although I've heard that there are a number of emerging micro-breweries in the US where they're making real ale. If they get it right then maybe the country will gradually be coaxed away from the standard lagers and enjoy some proper beer for a change.
Petrol is an area where Americans are very lucky. We often hear moans from them about the rising price of 'gas', but try having to pay the equivalent of 8.5 dollars per US gallon and see if you can still afford to run around in a five litre V8. In the UK, only the wealthy can afford to drive Range Rovers while the rest of us bimble around in frugal little euroboxes; not necessarily because we like them, but because the government will pull our pants down and do unspeakable things to our bottoms if we can't do at least 50 miles per gallon.
Personally, if I could pick any car I wanted and not have to worry about running costs, the top 10 list would include a Cadillac CTS-V, a Chevy Camaro (like Bumblebee) and a GT500 Mustang. I'm struggling to think of any car currently made in the UK that would interest me except perhaps the Ariel Atom.
If there's one thing Britain should be proud of, it's the National Health Service. We often grumble about it, with its long waiting lists and how the average GP is about as much use as a chocolate teapot, and although private healthcare is available it's incredibly expensive. But the idea of having to pay out extortionate amounts of money each month for health insurance like Americans have to makes me feel very lucky that I live in this country.
Americans have the right to defend themselves and their property with deadly force (yes I know laws vary from state to state), but in Britain if you were to have a go at an intruder you'd be more likely to do time than him. It's against his 'human rights' to be assaulted you know.... Yeah right - if every house contained somebody with a .45 and the legal right to use it, burglary rates would plummet.
Most of the TV programmes I enjoy come from the US, but I'm very glad that I don't have to put up with commercial breaks every few minutes.

So far then, this sounds like pretty much a draw. And that's what I would expect, because although we're separated by about 3000 miles of water our lives aren't really any different. It's not a case of one being better than the other, it's just two countries filled with a broad spectrum of people.
If this 'special relationship' really exists in some way outside of politics, its that we can appreciate aspects of each others lives and accept that when all's said and done we're basically all the same.