Guest Post: 7 Reasons The United States of America is Better Than Great Britain
Today we are joined on the 7 Reasons sofa by Simon Best who, when he isn’t committing treason or thinking about trains, is a Youth Worker. Simon’s fantastic tweets can be found here. They are as fine a guide to tasteful living as you will find anywhere.
1. The Weather. In Britain we love talking about the weather but, frankly, the British weather is pathetic, insipid and dull. For 5/6 of the year the weather in Britain is predominantly cloudy; In America they get real weather – winters with feet of snow, scorching hot summers and spectacular fall colours. They might not make a great fuss about it but America actually has proper seasons rather than shades of grey with slight temperature variations.
2. Television. Yes, we have the BBC, and American TV is frequently accused of dumbing-down and being full of cynical product placement; It is also true that the Jerry Springer Show originated in America, but while they have given Britain television masterpieces like the Sopranos, the Wire and Sesame Street, we have given them Wife Swap and Simon Cowell. On behalf of the nation I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all Americans for this affront to your dignity.
3. Roads. As America is the nation of the automobile this might not be a surprising inclusion, but I’m not talking about the quality of the tarmac. Roads and road trips are part of American life. From Kerouac to Chuck Berry, from travelling salesmen to wandering preachers, American roads have enriched western culture; Britain has contributed Chris Rea singing about the M25. It is also impossible to imagine anyone getting excited about a road trip from Plymouth to Inverness, driving the same distance as a journey from Chicago to Memphis – a journey anyone would rather make. In America you can drive for hours and only see four guys with shotguns in a Ford pickup; you’re likely to spend most of any UK road trip stuck behind a caravan driven by someone called Maurice who wears string-backed driving gloves. Drive from Land’s End to John o’Groats and that East17 album your ex put on your iPod is bound to repeat at least 3 times. You can drive across the USA 25 times without that happening.*
4. Music. America is often derided for the schmaltz of Country and Western and the aggression of rap, but it has produced many of the finest musicians ever: The Beach Boys, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Miles Davis, Rock and Roll, Pop, Blues and Jazz were all born in America. America has given the world its record collection. Britain gave America Acker Bilk and Leo Sayer (who both amazingly reached number 1 in the Billboard top 100). Obviously we gave you The Beatles and The ‘Stones too, but they were just copying black American music.
5. Pancakes. American pancakes are, plainly and simply, superior to British pancakes; Thick, fluffy and the size of a plate, they’re delicious with maple syrup. No wonder they eat them all year round. Here in Britain we have our pathetic thin and flimsy efforts once a year – with a lemon.
6. Sporting Spectacular . Americans know how to do sporting spectaculars. The Super Bowl is the American Football equivalent of the FA Cup Final, yet as an event it is more comparable to the Last Night of the Proms and the Lord Mayor’s Show with the viewing figures of a royal wedding. Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Prince and U2 have played the Superbowl half-time; Wembley gets the marching band of the Coldstream Guards and some majorettes. The opening ceremony for the Los Angeles Olympics featured a man arriving on a jet-pack, the best Britain has achieved was the opening ceremony for the 1999 Cricket World Cup when the fireworks failed to go off, Tony Blair’s microphone fused in the rain and Prince Philip spoke. It’s a good thing that China doesn’t play cricket. There is a serious risk that when London 2012 starts, the Olympic torch will be carried into the stadium by Boris Johnson on his bike.
7. Monuments & Memorials . There’s really no contest here. The United States has the Washington Monument, Mount Rushmore and a 500 foot high statue of Crazy Horse that is being carved out of a mountain in South Dakota. Britain has Nelson’s column and what else? The Diana Memorial was a shambolic failure that had to close because people kept slipping in the water, in fact, Britain is so bad at building monuments that for much of the past summer we put living people on a plinth in Trafalgar Square; America would have taken this opportunity to commemorate a former President, a Civil War General or a Baseball star. America doesn’t just stop at statues, pretty much everything is a memorial to someone noteworthy: bridges, schools, highways, parks, buildings. Can you imagine Mansfield opening the Richard Bacon Memorial Roundabout or Norwich naming a new underpass after Stephen Fry? No, of course not. In America these fitting tributes would be a stone cold certainty.