Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Anyone Still Interested . . .

leave a comment »

. . . in writing their life story

can get started in the weekly writing class

at 1:30 p.m. in the 2nd floor multi-purpose room.

= = = = =

I’ve always felt it’s

better to be thought of as being

abreast rather than behind.

= = = = =

Getting to Know the British Mind

By Igor Lobanov, Mature Life Features

British dramatist George Bernard Shaw is credited with remarking that “America and Britain are two nations divided by a common language.” But different word usage is perhaps the lesser part of the split. If you’re contemplating a trip to the British Isles, learning about differences in how we and the English think and act may help make the trip more enjoyable.

Pittsburgh native Jane Walmsley, who is married to a Brit and has lived and worked as a television broadcaster, producer and journalist in England for more than two decades, has compiled several different customs and characteristics that set Yanks and Brits apart.

Starting with the way we look at life. Americans, Walmsley notes, think death can be delayed by aerobics, prune juice, and plastic surgery. Britons live life with a certain detachment and let events run their course and are “never be seen to try too hard.”  Simply, that means never run for a bus or skip afternoon tea.

Americans want lots of choices, she says, and want the right to substitute a tossed salad for French fries. In short, we like to live life a la carte.  The English keep their number of choices limited –  “dresses come in four sizes, shoes one width, ice cream in three flavors.” They believe that too many options sew confusion.

She sees Yanks as having a go-for-it mentality and adoring movers and shakers, even flawed ones. Many ask, “If I can have it all, why haven’t I got it?” Brits prefer to relax and enjoy working within life’s natural boundaries and find a lot of satisfaction from small successes.

Then there is regionalism. As Walmsley explains, the British Isles is about the size of Pennsylvania encompassing 11 distinct and potentially warring parts. These include Scotland, Wales, Ulster (Northern Ireland), Republic of Ireland, West Country (Cornwall, Devon, Somerset), North (Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds), Northeast (the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area), Midlands (Birmingham), East Anglia (Norfolk, Suffolk), South, and Central London.

In summation, Walmsley opines that the only two things that really matter for the British are the Royal Family and the pub, which is the great leveler. What really matters for an American is even simpler, and also a leveler, is ice cream.

In another view, Roger Axtell, author of numerous books/guides on differences in international behavior, points out the really basic difference between the Brits and the Yanks: the way we hold a fork while eating.

In England, they keep the fork firmly in the left hand. By contrast, “We appear juggler-like, cutting the food with the fork in the left hand, dropping the knife, flipping the fork to the right hand, holding it like a pen and finally eating.”

Our zigzag eating style has had its ups and downs. Down (and out) were many U.S. secret agents in enemy territory during World War II who accidentally fell back into their early-childhood table manners.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 10, 2023 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Britain, Travel

Tagged with ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: