Friday, May 28, 2004

# Posted 1:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

REALITY FAR MORE RIDICULOUS THAN ONION: Get some Americans together in Oxford, and it will take all of four minutes for one of us to complain about how condescending the British are. In that vein, The Onion has published an article entitled "US Gives Up Trying to Impress England". (Why "England" and not "Britain"? Is the United States still committed to impressing Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales? Or do the Scots, Irish and Welsh empathize with Americans because they have suffered so much from English condescension as well?)

While the Onion's missive gives an occasional nod to the reality of British condescension, its real message is that Americans are vulgar and that it is the United States which is actually guilty of treating other nations in an arrogant and childish manner. As for vulgarity, one might consider the following observation about British undergarments, one which fits quite nicely with my own observations as an erstwhile UK resident. And with regard to diplomacy, one might consider the following bit of correspondence from an advice column in the Spectator (via BG):
Q. Some mega-rich American bankers bought the house opposite and have outraged the neighbourhood with two solid years of construction work — endless daily noise from a circular mechanical digger gouging out a second basement, thick dust, meaning endless trips to an expensive carwash, endless window-cleaning, blocked street, lost car parking, and rude and aggressive builders — without a hint of an apology at any time. The traditional form here is to send a charming note apologising in advance or wine (relating to height of inconvenience) in retrospect.

How can I show these dreadful vulgar people that they are universally loathed and completely unwelcome while staying within the law? Have you any suggestions for killer insults which would not be actionable (these people are New Yorkers)?

Name withheld, London W11

A. As you live in the Notting Hill area you doubtless have a wide circle of friendly neighbours who work in the media, most pertinently people who produce reality television. Simply arrange for the offending neighbours to receive a letter from a production company announcing that they are to be the focus of a forthcoming Neighbours from Hell shockumentary (which is in the very early stages of production) and requesting an interview in which they will have the opportunity to hit back at their critics in the surrounding streets. ‘Please telephone to arrange a suitable time when we can film you outside the property when the diggers are in action.’ Even if you do not see an end to the noise, you will have the satisfaction of having unnerved the offenders and possibly put them to the expense and inconvenience of issuing an injunction. You may even find someone who genuinely wants to make such a documentary. The haves would enjoy feeling outraged as they watched and the have-nots would enjoy for quite different reasons.
Gotta love that special relationship.
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