Defending the English when you’re not English

Posted on April 19, 2010 by yankeebean


I feel like Alice through the looking glass… I have encountered the assholiest American of all time and I am PISSED OFF.  This must be how British people feel when they meet people like this… I’ve gone down the rabbit hole.

I’ll start at the beginning, shall I?

I’m in the States right now visiting family, and we went to see a friend of mine who was singing at a local bar.  They were pretty good and it was fun… UNTIL the guitar player thought he’d improvise a song about how bad England is and how wonderful America is.

It was HORRIFYING… And it went on for a LONG time… And Mr Nice Guy (who, in keeping with his title, is a very nice guy) was FURIOUS.  And so was I.  In fact, I still am – to the point that I’m still having imaginary fights with yankee-arse-face in my head.

OH, how I wish that was the end of the story… but no… no it’s not.

We saw him again on Sunday morning and this is how the conversation went (imagine his parts spoken in a really snotty assholy way)

Me: Hey man, how you doing?

Him: So what’s with moving to England?  What’s so great about England?

Me: Are you serious?  Have you ever been to England?

Him: Is America not good enough for you?  You’re too good for America now?

Me: Have you ever been to England?

Him: No.  But my friend has…

Me: Why are we even having this conversation?

Me and Mr Nice Guy got outta there pretty quickly after that.  I was bright red with embarrassed rage and Mr Nice Guy was steadily swearing under his breath.  Mr NG is a peaceful man, but I do think that if we saw him again he’d actually result to violence.  I bet this is how the American Revolution started…

I don’t know if I want this A-hole to leave the country so he can get a friggin’ CLUE, or if he should be forbidden from leaving so he doesn’t act as an anti-ambassador.

Please, dear readers – share you’re tales of woe with me.  I can’t be the only one who’s tried to defend their secondary nation…

What a jag-hole…

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What Others Are Saying

  1. April 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Defending the english when youre not english.. Corking :)

  2. Anne-Margaret May 21, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Man do I understand this! I have lived in Germany twice and on multiple occasions I have had to deflect, ignore, or downright defend against “Nazi” comments. It’s now to the point that I avoid telling people I’ve lived in Germany and speak German until I know them well enough and know they are not ignorant bigots. I have yet to experience this in regards to my moving to the UK but I am sure I will eventually encounter it. I have had some strange responses when people find out my beau is a Brit…usually regarding dental hygeine. (As if I and he’s not heard it all before!)

    I have learned that the people who most often make these comments, truly are ignorant. They have never left the US and often times never even left their state or immediate region. I guess the fear of the unkown is what breeds this type of thinking. In some ways I feel sorry for these sorts of people, but then I hear a “Nazi” comment and any pity I feel is replaced with blind rage.

    In the words of Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

  3. Lucy April 29, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    I’m sorry you had to content with that. I’ve heard as much from my own family members — none of whom have been outside the US — who think our reasons for leaving were an example of “getting above ourselves”. No, my husband was offered a job by a friend that provides a damned sight more security than anything we’ve had in the States, and our son’s partner has Irish citizenship (they’re headed back to Paris soon) and we wanted to be close enough to help them in an emergency.

    I’ve tried to explain how we’ve benefited from this: I have genetic health issues that were NOT covered by our medical insurance in the States but are fully accommodated by the NHS. I can’t drive because of those issues, and it’s easier for me to live a full life here without a car (I recognize that rural areas are a different case).

    GingerGirl, I’ve heard a lot of “What do you mean you hang your clothes out?” comments, too. I have a tumble dryer, and use it when necessary, but why shouldn’t I save wear and tear on my clothing (not to mention my mains gas bill!) by putting them on a line?

    Chin up, ducks! Folk such as your acquaintance are damned by their own IQs — leave them to nature.

  4. Denise April 28, 2010 at 5:44 am

    I’ve really enjoyed your post, the discussions above and I love your blog. As an English woman who has lived in the States for 34 years, I have occasionally come across similar comments from people but not for a long time thankfully. I think people are people and no matter what country they live in, there are going to be those who like to stir things up by saying outlandish things, just to get a rise out of their unfortunate ‘victim’. It can get awfully boring and I remember my last response in such a predicament, when someone was ranting away at me without any provocation on my part, and tiring of the situation quickly I remember saying to him, “Well, I suppose your mother loves you”, at which I turned on my heel and found a much nicer person to chat to. My passive/aggressive stance I suppose but life’s to short to hang around such people.

  5. Andrea April 26, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Ah, as another ‘Shamerican’ chick in London, I wholeheartedly agree.
    I love the States. I love England. I’m absolutely mortified, however, when I’m out and see a couple of drunk American chicks acting so…stereotypically American. //shudders.
    Just the other week, I was in Central London and saw three girls, quite obviously hammered and acting as though they owned the place, talking down to the staff and making wildly sexual comments and gestures to the boys around. I could only shake my head and roll my eyes to my hunka-hunka Brit man. He laughed it off. I noted, ‘It’s no wonder the rest of the world thinks we Americans are obnoxious boneheads. Sigh.’

    I sometimes feel the need to apologise for such behaviour of my compatriota. Meh, or maybe it’s just that I’ve just forgotten how I acted at 24, too..? (winks)

  6. Expat Mum April 23, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Let me defend my second home by saying that I don’t think it’s just Americans who can be this blinkered. I know a lot of Brits who go abroad (not necessarily to here) and think that they’re in third world countries when they’re really not.
    There’s not a lot you can do with tossers like the guy you encountered but I stopped getting worked up about them a long time ago. They’re not worth the energy and fortunately, although yes, many Americans think this is THE only place to live, they’re not as rude about other countries.

  7. dyana April 23, 2010 at 9:52 am

    that reminds me of how hard it was to convince my mother to NOT buy me a coffee machine.

    when she got back home she ended up buying an electric kettle!

  8. GingerGirl April 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Most of the time the comments I get from friends who start to question why I live here are things that I wondered about too when I first moved here. The first time they came to visit they just couldn’t fathom having to turn the sockets on and off, having a teeeny tiny washer and no drier, making do without a dishwasher and no coffee machine. And to have such expensive rent for a flat with none of these things! However, they don’t have the opportunity to learn how nice it is to be responsible with your energy use, that even though they can be scratchy clothes smell so dried out in the garden and that washing dishes isn’t the worst chore in the world and that coffee from a French Press is both more fun to make and tastes better! A lot of it has to do with the standard of life they are able to enjoy back at their homes that is simply different then the way I choose (and can afford!) to live my life here.

    Sometimes it does get a little grating because all of those things have become, to me, not the important things in life and I am willing to make those tiny sacrifices to work in a great job unique to the city I love here. I know its because they haven’t had the same experience that I get from living here and they haven’t found a place that caused them to fall head over heels in love with and can’t imagine living a life not there!

    There is something to be said about American ignorance, willful or otherwise, of what life is like in the UK and I think that part of it is that you don’t get to live here until you get to live here! And until then it can be hard for people to appreciate a life outside their comfort zone or that lacks things that they think are necessary. And while you can lead a horse to water, likewise I don’t know that you can force anyone to think that living in a country outside America is as wonderful as it is if they don’t want to see it as such. Which is incredibly frustrating when you just want to shout “Open your mind!” and list all the millions of wonderful things that Great Britain, and any other country in the world, has to offer.

  9. Frugal Queen April 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Hi – Love your blog xxx

    Britain is a funny old place as it’s four countries and each vies for superiority!

    I’m one of the Celts – Cornish, we think we’re unique and we are decidedly anti-English (not me personally) Unfortunately there are blinkered anti-American attitudes in the UK; you know the stereotypes…..everyone’s fat, can’t walk anywhere, materialistic…blah, blah, so there are plonkers in every country I’m afraid.

  10. Sabrina April 21, 2010 at 8:31 am

    What a lovely post. I couldn’t agree more. I am frequently surprised by the sideways comments that even close friends and family make about living in the UK….to my face. Many of these people haven’t even been to England. Even more irritating is that most of these comments are based upon massive stereotypes of England. Ah yes, and what I love about those who make these comments is that they are laced with arrogance.

    Thanks so much for your blog. It has been an invaluable resource for me as I have settled into life here. You have provided moments of laughter, comfort, and sanity….

  11. Lis April 20, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Ugh, what an arrogant, ignorant prick. I think Americans get so stuck in this mentality that America is the WORLD and there is absolutely nothing better out there because it is so isolated when compared to the rest of the world. We’re just sort of hanging out on our own continent with only Canada and Mexico for neighbors. People in Europe seem to have a much better grip on the world in general and what’s happening across the globe, whereas Americans are mainly caught up in only things that affect them personally. Sadly, that is usually news concerning who is winning on American Idol or Dancing With the Stars. Living in America has turned me off to politics and patriotism extremely. I hate those superior kind of attitudes. I’m sure people living elsewhere have the same mentality that they’re country is the best and everywhere else is crap, and I’ve had plenty of hatred thrown my way when I’ve been traveling, simply for being American. That’s something I really hate. That feeling that I have a neon sign over my head saying AMERICAN whenever I travel to other countries. I certainly can understand why some dislike Americans so much,but I wish to be judged as a person, and not where I come from. Not everyone living in America watches Fox News or voted for Bush.

    Oh! Btw, She’s Not From Yorkshire won an award! You can claim it here:

    I know it’s not much, but I hope you enjoy it! :)

  12. Very Bored in Catalunya April 20, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    OOh now I really want to know what the man said about England. To be honest, most of us Brits, Americans etc think our nation is better and can find a billion and one faults with all other countries but a bit of mutual respect goes a long, long way. It’s like criticising other people’s children… (say it in private and out of earshot). Great blog.

  13. Yorkist J April 20, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Honestly, attitudes like that are part of the reason I wanted to move away from America. I realise there are plenty of English folk who are the same way about their own country, but in my experience, they do a better job of hiding it (or at least being civil about it). I have this theory that people insist on letting their attitudes be determined by outside sources; this being a perfect example, in which a person says, ‘I was born in America, therefore America must be the greatest nation on Earth!’ They forget that they have the option of choosing for themselves.

    Yes, there are good things about America, but there are good things about England as well, and I wish people would see past their petty pride to realise it. You have my sympathies.

  14. Almost American April 19, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    People with an attitude like that usually take it with them when they leave the country. They see nothing good in the countries they visit, and return convinced of their own superiority :-(

  15. smittenbybritain April 19, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Well naturally, I do it all the time. You can talk until your face is blue and they will never get it. They can’t pull their heads out of their own asses long enough to think that there might actually be a world outside of the U.S. And hey, people in these other countries actually LOVE their countries too and are well proud of their heritage. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to live in America. I would bet this guy spends his days listening to Rush Limbaugh. I wouldn’t waste another thought on him.

  16. Chania Girl April 19, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Since I’ve moved to Greece, I’ve (sadly) encountered similar sensibilities in some Americans I have met, both here and back in the States. The ones I meet here tend to cloak the criticisms, though, in “Everything’s so f***ed up here. Things are better in the States.” And then they proceed to buck and rail against the system, find other similarly narrow-minded folk, form an enclave and never truly experience life here as good as it can get (which, despite its flaws can get pretty damn good).

    It’s sad to see, and embarrassing for me, and really helps me understand anti-American sentiment sometimes when I meet it.

  17. Lady Who Lunches April 19, 2010 at 10:18 am

    You know. I think in many ways – Americans have an inferiority complex against the English and the English sometimes have a superiority complex going the other direction. I remember having some Americans saying to me that same thing “Is America not good enough for you?” Ultimately, sounds like that guy has some issues with pride, ignorance and a bit of arrogance.
    On the other hand, the amount of times I’ve heard the English make fun of America and get really feisty and passionate about this fact – well, it’s happened probably more often than the other way around…

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