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So far as I can see, all Americans …
• … wear tight blue jeans, lumberjack shirts and mullets. Even if they're nuclear physicists, palaeontologists, psychiatrists, authors etc.
• … are given to turning up, mysteriously road-grimed, in some godforsaken little town in the sticks, learning that there's a motorcycle race or something, acquiring an old motorbike from somewhere, entering the race and winning against all opposition mostly by dint of looking very determined and screwing the throttle really hard. This despite the fact that all the other riders are experienced professionals who have been preparing for months, ride machines made of kevlar and titanium specially developed by Honda to produce three zillion horsepower and have really snazzy coloured helmets. Then they get the girl.
• … if they're in the army, answer back to their officers, shout at each other a lot and panic whenever anything happens - you know, a small Vietnamese boy steps out of the bushes and wham! they're running in all directions shouting instructions to each other and spraying the undergrowth with half the USA's annual munitions production. And then it turns out all he'd come for was to interest them in his sister.
• … think they can sing. Especially on "American Idol" which quite makes one warm to that nice Simon Cowell. And if they can't sing they have great "personality" which appears to mean they're fat, loud, vacuous and enthusiastic.
• … aren't quite sure about the geography of anywhere fifty miles from home. Why do they keep calling it "London, England"? It's not "London, England", it's just plain "London". England's where we keep it. Everyone in Europe knows where it is.
• … have no sense of time. They'll happily say "Oh, George? He and I go way back. Ooh, I must have known him … let's see … almost three years!" And they get married with incredible rapidity. Lose one husband/wife in a tragic shark-infested boating fire explosion? No problem, marry someone else three months later.
• … have enormous bottoms. That's because they eat steaks the size of Surrey. For breakfast.
• … are lawyers. Is there any other profession in America? Apart from nuclear physics, palaeontology etc.
• … have a strange idea of sophistication. I think I saw a film once where the suave hero went to a swanky restaurant and ordered a chilled Chablis and a burger with fries. Mind you, I'm sure it was a very good burger, and it probably took three waiters to carry it to the table. And who could seriously eat something called "squash"? Anthony Hopkins knew a thing or two about sophistication: "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti" - now that's real class.
• … think it's OK to hoot and holler at any public meeting. I suppose it saves having to listen, or think, or anything hard like that.
• … believe they have a God-given right to drive vast vehicles that use up the entire oil production of a small sheikhdom just going to the shops.
• … think hanging around the shopping mall is a constructive and adult way of spending an afternoon.
• … think "Friends" was funny. They can't understand proper humour, like Fawlty Towers or The League of Gentlemen. Mind you, Anne Robinson didn't last long over there, did she? I suppose that's a point in their favour.
• … are chicken. Someone only has to shout "fire!" or "shark!" to have entire town populations of six-foot husky men running for their lives, dashing women and children out of their way. All except the mysteriously road-grimed traveller with the cowboy boots, that is.
You understand, I am talking about America as we see it in films and on TV. I do know a few Americans, and none of them sport tight jeans, check shirts or mullets (though to be honest none of them are nuclear physicists or palaeontologists). They're quite ordinary people, really, and some of them are very nice.
Trouble is, they're naοve. They think that being the richest country in the world means something. Whereas we know that what counts is having several hundred years of history, wars, invasions, inequality, repression, prejudice and religion behind you.
And the World Series? What's that all about?


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