I love that Britain is old. I mean, olde. You can hear it in the language, see it in the architecture and in the landscape with its hedgerows and fields. You can live it in its customs. The past is never far away, so unlike America, where we seem to forget the past on a daily basis. There will always be an England!
Yes! One *feels* history in Britain. The sensory input is everywhere! By comparison (in my mind), the US seems like a gangly, rootin’ tootin’, cowboy teenager! (While Britain is the aged, wise adult.) Of course, history textbooks for youngsters on this side of the pond focus on “U.S. History,” which is just over a couple hundred years old. If we focused equally on the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, the “native Americans,” our own history would instantly age! (But, alas, the native Americans did not leave a legacy of medieval castles and churches that we can visit today.)
Surely British and European history belong to Americans every bit as much as they do the to us in Europe? The colonisatation of America didn't begin until the early 17th century so up until that point we have a shared history. From the early 18th century Africa people were brought forcibly to America as slaves and with their emmancipation the notion of an America began to change. The melting pot of the United States brought people from all around the world and thence was created the contemporary notion of the American however this was a late 19th and early 20th century notion, in 1776 the founding fathers of the United States: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton were all technically British and they considered themselves British until it was obvious the only way their cause was to progress was via revolution, they viewed the Revolution very much in terms of an act of reformation of Britain. Washington spent his entire military career serving in the capacity of British Army Officer, the intellectual underpinnings of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights come directly out European and moreover British enlightenment thinking and it is highly unlikely that there would have been a revolution at all without the input of Thomas Paine. The founding fathers didn't want a war of revolution they wanted a peaceful governmental settlement that would have given them self determination whilst remaining British.
Without the Revolution it highly unlikely that the French Revolution of 1789 would of happened. Without the loss of Americans colonies it also unlikely that British liberal reformers would have come to the fore and turned the United Kingdom into a democratic nation state. Without the progress made in England in terms of the industrial revolution America would not have gone on to become the worlds great industrial power. We truly share a history, the castles and cathedrals of the Norman conquest or the history of Rome are as important to American history as they are to ours, we share this. I've always believed that it is this understanding that's made Americans and Britains so culturally connected. It was black American blues musicans that inspired Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones and The Beatles that revitalised Rock 'n' Roll in America. Regardless of race, ethnic, religious or cultural origin some of us in both Britain and America see past the narrow confines of national history and pride to a deeper understanding that history is our story.
Buildings. Castles and palaces. Manor houses and cottages. Doorways, windows, and roof lines. Old and new. Over my stove I have my photos of buildings that fascinate me in the UK. One is a bank in Stockport, Cheshire. Just an old building that in most American cities whould have been torn down and rebuilt in a modern form. But the bank just left the outside and redid the inside. Brits seems to value their past more than Americans.
This can be a challenge to us Yankees. Dressing for dinner surpised me when when visiting friends. Not that we wore anything more formal than we did all day, but changed for dinner, especially when going to a restaurant.
Nice of you to say so. I am an Englishman who lives in the midlands (Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire/Peak District) There are many 'Stately Homes and of course Nottingham Castle. I profess to be what we call 'old school'. Change for dinner, always walk on the outside of the pavement (sidewalk) when with a lady. (this is a throwback to medieaval times when the gentleman walked on the outside to protect the lady from being injured by coach and horses and splashed by mud on unmade roads) I dont even own a pair of jeans (denims) and always give up my seat for the elderly or a lady when on the bus or tram. It is how I was brought up by my parents. Several years ago I went to the US on a business trip to Briggs and Stratton engines. We were the only two who wore a shirt and tie all week when it was in the 70's and above. At 65 years old I can't see me changing !!!
Manchester, of course. Forget London (and the south in general), and see the real UK!
On a more serious note, I love the wide variety of regional dialects in spite of our small size and also the vast differences & rivalries evidenced between the 'home countries'. Being English, I tend not to be much of a fan of Wales, or Scotland, or Northern Ireland. We may be one state but we're far from the best of friends. Being labelled as a Brit is, however, a source of irritation. If you must, use Briton but we tend to prefer being English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish. Don't lump us all together or there'll be trouble lol
I also love pasties, cheese and onion in particular!
Ian, I totally agree--many Americans, fortunately, embrace their British/European heritage and recognize the shared history. Being of that ilk myself, you can imagine my horror a few years ago when certain "elements" in American society coined the term "freedom fries" to replace "French fries" (which the British call "chips") so that we Americans would not have to utter the vile word "French." (My high schools French eludes me; what's the French word for "silly"?)
Of course, not everyone in America shares a European history--as you pointed out, this non-European trend began with freed slaves who had been brought from Africa. And the non-European trend continues today, at an accelerated pace, as the Asian and Hispanic populations increase. I do feel fortunate to live in the great Melting Pot of NYC...and the size of the Melting Pot is particularly vast in Brooklyn, where I am. It's difficult to live here and not be global in outlook!
Susie, it sounds like your eye gravitates to the beautiful and poetic. How lovely! I, too, greatly admire how the British revere their historical buildings and past. Years ago, I used to be involved with archaeological excavation and research. On the excavation sites in the US, we had to hide the fact that we were excavating--so that the site wouldn't get plundered at nighttime when we weren't there. (We would do crazy things like take different paths through the corn fields every day, as we headed to our site beside the river, so that we wouldn't leave telltale signs of a trail.) But when I joined excavations in the UK, they put up signs, announcing that an excavation was going on! They knew that people would then leave things alone! To me, that cultural difference was enormous!
I love so much, it's impossible to pick just one thing! The fact that it is so old is wonderful. Thatched cottages and ancient pubs--how can you get better than that? But there is also the cultural legacy: scholars and authors and inventors, etc. And the food...what I'd give for some fish and chips right now!
Yes Gina, I totally agree with you, 100%!!! In England, they restore and save old buildings and sites. They put them in the National Trust, so that they can never be torn down. The British care about their heritage and culture, and do whatever they can, to preserve it! But not here in the states! Here, they're always tearing down the old, to make room for the new. so sad! In England, they embrace their past, and work hard to incorperate it into their present and future. Here, the "in" thing seems to be to build new, new new, which just moves us farther away from our past! Why are we so keen to forget where we came from??
British/English manners faded away not long after the war. Most people here are now rude, ignorant, arrogant, impatient, aggresive and most sleep around. Britain is only nice when there are such things as royal weddings, the London Marathon and the London Olympics. This is when I love England and her people; everyone turns out to show their support; this is true Britishness. London, the English countryside and the patriotism of its people and the humour are the things keeping me here. Especially beautiful, historic London.