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Lost In Translation: Five British Things Americans Don’t Understand
Sometimes, we Americans can’t ignore the fact that there are a handful of things we just don’t get about our dear Brits. For instance, how did morris dancing even start? Why are crumpets so great? And how come Mary Poppins isn’t real? Anyhow, in keeping with our recent Lost in Translation series, here are five British things that leave some Americans confused.
1. Take That
When girls across Europe were fawning over Gary, Robbie, Mark, Jason and Howard in the early ’90s, U.S. tweens were adorning their walls with pictures and posters of Jordan, Joe, Donnie, Danny and Jon (a.k.a. New Kids of the Block, of course). And later on, it was *NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys. But why weren’t these English boys embraced too? They’ve certainly got the looks and they’ve got the songs. And let’s not disregard the fact that they’ve sold millions and millions of records overseas. But by the time they made any kind of impression (just barely, mind you) on this side of the pond with the 1995 single from Nobody Else, the radio-friendly ballad “Back for Good,” Robbie Williams had already bitterly split and grunge was still in full effect. Even after their 2006 resurrection without Williams, and their latest reincarnation with the rabble-rousing entertainer, stateside interest failed to take shape, which is a shame really, since their new album, Progress, is one of their best.
2. Katie Price
Obviously the same rules applied to Kim Kardashian can follow here. The English glamour girl, once known as Jordan, never fails at making the UK tabloid headlines. Whether she’s hawking a new book or fragrance or trying her hand at music or reality television, the girl does have a knack for being front and center for the next paparazzi shot. Here, not so much, although Perez Hilton does try to change this from time to time.
3. Coronation Street
I know there’s plenty of Americans who love their Corrie, but generally the much-loved British soap opera — which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010 — hasn’t really resonated in America. Any why? Well for starters, those lucky Yanks who’ve been able to watch have either relied on Canada’s CBC or they’ve scoured YouTube or the web for torrents. And maybe Coronation Street is a little too folksy and ordinary for those Americans who tend to crave the over-the-top, glitzy drama featured in our own soaps. Example: we’ve been putting up with General Hospital‘s resident mobster Sonny Corinthos for how long now?
4. Boxing Day
I suppose the decision to include this particular British holiday here is to more or less to grumble about the fact that Americans don’t receive an extra day off after Christmas. But what is Boxing Day, really? I understand that the literal practice should see others sharing good tidings with their employees and with those less fortunate (i.e. presenting gift boxes with a generous cash donation or other fine goods). I’ve also heard it likened to United States’ blockbuster shopping day that comes after Thanksgiving, a.k.a. “Black Friday.” Still, wouldn’t it be grand to have an added day of rest after all the holiday hoopla?
So ok, one of America’s favorite pastimes isn’t all that different from one of Britain’s most historical sports. Instead of having nine players on a team, cricket features 11. Our bat is round and thin and theirs is flat. When a batter strikes out, that’s a wicket for their batsman. Perhaps some of the English lingo trips us up a bit? I cannot wrap my mind around the idea that some of cricket matches can last several days. And do cricket players really head to the clubhouse for tea and sandwiches during a rain delay? At the end of the day, we should give dear ol’ Blighty some major props for crafting the beloved bat-and-ball game. If not, maybe we wouldn’t be downing cheap beer and hot dogs in a open stadium on a sunny summer day.
What British something do you not understand? Tell us here.