The English are not like you and me. Sure, they speak a form of our language, but the resemblance more or less ends there. I recently received a vivid lesson in this by watching the UEFA soccer finals in a bar full of Brits. Though the game was broadcast from Moscow, on the field it was strictly limey-on-limey violence, with the “Red Army” of Manchester United facing down the blue “Headhunters” of Chelsea. Seven or nine beers later, I knew quite a bit more about our colonial sires, as gleaned from the frequently intelligible comments of a roomful of expats that included my drinking buddy Phil and a number of his colorful “mates.”
Beer: believe the hype. I can’t remember when I’ve seen so much beer put down in a few hours, and I practically live in a brewpub. No wine, no margaritas, no sex-on-the-beach, just Bass and Newcastle by the gallon. A dishwasher burst into flames trying to keep up with the dirty pint glasses, and the waitresses were zooming around like RAF tankers hauling all those suds. On a related note, soccer matches don’t have commercial breaks like American football, so the line to the loo was unbelievable at halftime. Note to Stadium Pub management: one men’s W.C. is not enough for a chunnelful of beer-piss.
BBC America: Wrong. For starters, Doctor Who is not a real person. And great comedy shows like That Mitchell and Webb Look, The Catherine Tate Show, and The League of Gentlemen are apparently more popular here than they ever were in the UK. So if you want to watch TV like a Brit, tune your telly to the latest episode of MI-5, and complain bitterly about all the sodding commercials.
Ronaldo: Portuguese. Man U’s star player, the mono-named Ronaldo, is affectionately known as “Ron,” except when he screws up a penalty kick, and then he’s called “Wanker.” Don’t even think about calling him Brazilian. You will be firmly corrected that he is Portuguese. Like Port. Which no one drinks at a footie match because they’re pounding down all the beer in Creation.
Things not to mention at a table full of Brits: Bad teeth. Huge scary eyebrows. Didier Drogba “girlie slapping” Nemanja Vidic. The 4-5-1 lineup. Kim Philby. Brazil.
In short, everything I ever thought I knew about Jolly Olde E. was a complete load of rubbish. I was all bollixed up, but I’m better now.