Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The American Chauvinist's Traveling Companion

Having friends all over the world, I can tell you - if you are the type of American who *knows* the US is the only real country, that the US always knows *best,* - that you will undoubtedly, accidentally, say something to offend "the natives" when you travel to, say, Great Britain.

As a personal favor, let me impart information sure to catch the attention of the locals when you visit, so you can fit right in. Words and phrases sure to incite- er, inspire them to take you in their arms and show you the side of their British culture not seen by the average American tourist.

When in England, you'll often hear the term "mate." In this case, a mate is not a partner, husband or wife, a mate is a friend.

Another term to be affectionately shared among the British, used with store clerks, tattooed teenagers roaming the streets, "Bobbys" (police), vicars and all Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy: "wanker." A similar colloquialism used interchangeably: "tosser."

Used in a sentence with, say, a store clerk: "Thank you. Have a nice day, wanker"

When the clerk, not understanding your American accent, responds, "Say what?" Here's your chance to shine with, "You git, have a nice day, tosser!" Your smile will say it all.

"Git" is the affectionate description of a family member, your boss, or most politicians.

To the gang of hormone-oozing tattooed teenagers, especially if they frighten you, smile and say, "Hello, tosspots!" Tosspots, of course, meaning "tea drinkers." If they frown, laugh (loudly), offer a cigarette (always carry cigarettes for the locals) and ask, "Shag?"

If they respond with, "A shag and a fag?" Be aware that in the UK, "fag" means "cigarette." it is not a disrespectful term for gay men and "shag" is an invitation to a tea party. You're offering a cigarette and a cup of tea.

If they continue to display anti-American sentiments, giggle, "Belt up! No need to throw a benny because you're bent as a bottle of chips!" Translated: Relax!

One of the most popular tourist sites in England is Coronation Street. You can say you are from Coronation Street, and watch all your new British friends light up. "Where you from?" they ask. You say, "Coronation Street, born and raised."

If, once again, your American accent elicits a round of quizzical looks, simply smile and respond, "I'm off to visit my favorite neighbours (always speak with a "u" in words that are really spelled without them), Blanche and Vera."

Seriously, this may bring your new BFFS to tears, because everyone knows about them in the UK.

There's so much more, but this will get you off to a good start.

It's generally considered inappropriate to discuss politics in other countries, *but* -- in the UK, universal health care and gun control are not considered political subjects. Believe it or not, they are considered moral, public health and safety issues - can you believe it?

So if you want to express your disdain for the "socialist Obama" and their government's agenda of providing health care for all it's people, the outrage of not being able to carry guns into a British Starbucks - or grocery shopping for that matter, talk it up!

Or as the British would say, "Have yourself a good chin wag" about these American policies; insist they are the best in the world and why, and that other countries should adopt them.

One thing for which you will be particularly grateful: if you do happen to injure yourself or get sick while visiting England. They will provide proper health care for you - at no cost.

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