Monday, December 14, 2009

My Americanization Of Britain

In 1964 the film “The Americanization of Emily” was released. “Emily” starred James Garner and Julie Andrews. Set in London, in 1944, the film is based on a novel by William Bradford Huie, a former naval officer and aide to an Admiral during World War II. In 2005 I joined Pogo, a gaming website that offers a variety of casual games, ranging from card and board games to puzzle, sports, and word games. While playing, you are able to “chat” with people from all over the world. That is where I met a lovely lady from the U.K. named Bev.

That is when I first embarked upon my Americanization of Britain.

And it hasn’t been a small undertaking. Not by any stretch of the imagination. This ambitious endeavor not only includes the Americanization of Bev. Nope, it has branched to the rest of her family and a couple of friends.

No big deal you say? Well, Bev’s family is nothing to sneeze at. Her parents, Alfie and Elsie, obviously had a favorite hobby. The results of their hobby were Sue, Margaret, Hazel, Christine, Carol, Beryl, Donald, Barry, Keith, David and Debbie. In that order.

Where is Bev you ask? Bev’s given name is Beryl, sibling number six of eleven. She might be the middle child, but she compensates for it with an abundance of nicknames. She is also Doris. And Bell. And B. And Coops. You get the picture.

Over the years Bev and I have become dear friends. I have gotten to know a lot of her family and have no less than ten of them as facebook “friends.”

The language barrier was the first bridge to cross. In England, football is soccer and soccer is also soccer. In America, football is football and soccer is soccer. We still struggle with that one.

Then there are chips and crisps. Okay, pay attention. The British call French fries, chips. They call potato chips, crisps. I am having more success Americanizing Bev’s family in this regard.

This was made obvious one night when Bev’s daughter Louise asked her if she could speak to me on Skype. Bev said sure. Louise sat down in front of the computer, said hi and told me that she had just been to McDonald’s. I asked her what she had.

Her reply made me grin.

With a big smile the young Brit said she had a burger and a milk shake. She then paused, and proudly added, “And French Fries!”

My hard work was beginning to pay off.

Other inroads in my effort to Americanize include providing Bev’s husband, an electrician, with an American-style nickname of his very own. He is now commonly referred to as “Sparky”.

Bev’s enchanting eldest sister Sue has become a regular reader of this very blog, leaving comments on a consistent basis. She is a big fan of my tales of Koos, especially when they involve the legendary Arno.

I have also introduced the Brits to my favorite sport teams, the Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Brewers. Bev loves it when I email videos to her of Brewer home runs at Miller Park, so she can see Bernie Brewer descend down his slide.

Bev’s charming sister Debbie is another member of her family that I have become good friends with. Here my attempts at Americanization are aimed mostly at Debbie and husband Scott’s rambunctious son, Jake.

Jake loves sports. On weekends he plays football (soccer) one day and rugby on the other. If that wasn’t enough, he takes swimming classes on both days. Oh ya, during the week he takes Judo lessons after school. With this daunting schedule, it’s amazing that Debbie has any time for games on Pogo.

Now back to the Americanization of young Jake. This past Saturday, Bev had a family get-together at her house. The function served two purposes. Not only was it a Christmas party but it also celebrated Jake’s eighth birthday. He was born on Christmas Eve, so in her infinite wisdom, Bev decided to combine both of the events at one time.

Bev had graciously extended an invitation to me, but unfortunately my schedule prevented me from attending the festive bash. Not wanting to be rude, I did however mail a present to the guest of honor.

If the pictures below are any indication, it looks as if he enjoyed the gift that I had sent to him. Quite American, don’t you think? It goes without saying that Jake is clearly the coolest kid in England.

A British Packer Backer

Prince Has a Fan "Across the Pond"

My efforts to Americanize Britain aren’t finished, not by a long shot. I think my next venture will be to have them consolidate all the different things for which they use the word “piss”. Don’t even ask. Until next time…from the booth.


Anonymous said...

First time ive had time to read this paul, and yes quite intresting, well it did involve , my family.
Will say football is football, if i was watching your side of the pond would call it american football(hmm at one stage there thought you were taking the piss lol oh thats the next one, must come back

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Thanks David! I am glad you had the chance to read it. I hope you get a chance to play "football" this weekend. I hear you are quite the goalie!

Anonymous said...

Oh my Paul you have summed up us 'English'. Altho you have a long way to go to 'americanize' us I feel we have even further to 'Englishise' you!! After all so many of our words have 'double' meanings. Stay with us and no doubt you will be able to write a book about us soon.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

I look forward to be "Englishised". I would be honored to write a book about you. You are a charming bunch! Thanks.

Leplume said...

I have a dear friend who lives in Manchester and she always gets a kick out of some of the words I come up with. Take for example, "bubbler" meaning "drinking fountain". I don't think they even say bubbler in other parts of the US! LOL

Having new family in Sweden, we often talk about the peculiar language differences between us. Tell ya what! You Americanized Britain and I'll see what I can do about Scandanavia! LOL

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

It's a deal Mary!