Time Flies – it’s 12 Months now

They say time flies when you are happy, so we must have enjoyed our 12 months as foreigners in America.
I sat the family down last night to celebrate 12 months in Denver, and asked them for their highlights. Ben at 13 wasn’t impressed. 3 road trips was all he could recall – 3 road trips, do they know how lucky they are?
It’s hard to top an American Road Trip, 2000 miles, dodgy hotels, fantastic sights. My most memorable sight was probably at the Grand Canyon. No, not the “big hole in the ground” as Jake called it. I am referring to the lady pushing her dog round the rim of the canyon in a pram. Americans really love dogs.
My favourite thing in America? Undoubtedly the service.
It is difficult to explain the service one expects in a London pub to the majority of Americans, bearing in mind most haven’t made it to Europe. In fact, some don’t even make it out of their State. But no American could comprehend the way that food gets thrown at you in pubs in London or the way barmen insult you all over the UK. In America, service is wonderful almost everywhere.
The maddest thing we have done? Well we started very strongly in the “stupid Englishman” stakes, pushing 16 large suitcases, our entire possessions, across the vast spaces of Dallas airport. That was one connection too many, who on ever thought that was a good money saving idea?
Americans are obsessed with cars, every kid in Jake’s class of 17 year olds have a car (apart from him poor boy). So is there a correlation between the standard of driving and the standard of the test? Our Colorado test record so far is 10 minutes, with no engagement of reverse gear. And the examiner was the driving instructor. Yep, that proves it.
Of course the biggest difference between the UK and the US is the role of the church. I am warming up to this one, I am just starting a mapping project to work out exactly how many churches there are in our area. But there are certainly over 8 in a 3 mile radius. And most people go to church on a Sunday (or Saturday), whilst the church plays such a small part in life in the UK. One I need to explore.
Regular readers will be waiting for my continuous rant about guns, and I have to report that I am working hard to get to the bottom of this, the most illogical of issues. I am now consuming literature about the American Revolution, and taking training from a student of American history, our Jake. There has to be links to the pioneer spirit, and to the way the settlers over threw us English, fed up with “taxation without representation”. The “right to bear arms” in the constitution certainly comes from their fear of invasion, and there are many in places like Texas who still believe that their guns are required to ward off the forces of the hated Federal Government. Yes, it sounds idiotic, but they believe it.
I obviously got off to a bad start with my neighbours, middle class Americans are lovely people, but they do need their personal space. Consequently I no longer kiss acquaintances, in fact, there are only 2 American ladies who I kiss hello and goodbye, and their husbands have promised not to shoot me. I have always realized that the majority of the inhabitants of this fine land will never get the sarcasm and cynicism (let alone tactility) that makes up an average Englishman, but despite all this, we have made good friends here.
I still think Healthcare systems in this country are absurd. It makes no sense in a Capitalist society to be paying twice as much per head to target a life expectancy that is over 3 years less than our own. The sugar content of foods is unbearably high for our English palates and we are still embarrassed to see people out and about with oxygen tanks despite it being a regular sight.
The weather in Colorado is lovely. Over 300 sunny days makes one so much happier. It rained this month for a week, which no-one had seen before, and therefore very ill prepared for. Like having the “wrong leaves” on the train tracks. However despite all the scientific reports, only 42% of Americans believe in the concept of global warming, and considerably less believe something should be done about it. The reason, and the biggest problem in American society is the role of “interest groups”. Whether it is the oil lobby, the NRA (National Rifle Association), or the vast Health industry, the amounts they spend on influencing opinion, and buying politicians is enormous. They now want to scrap the $123,200 limit on how much one individual can donate to a candidate.
US government is once again within 3 weeks of running out of funds, because the two parties can’t work out a compromise. All politics in Europe is a compromise, but Washington is paralysed, due to the interest groups driving the politicians, every one frightened to lose his seat.
Well, I’m off down to the gym now (yeh, right). OK, it’s Friday, so I’m going to have a few drinks while watching a game of Aussie Rules football with a bunch of lovely Americans, and a few from down Under. Might try my continental greeting on some more of the ladies and give a couple of the men a brotherly hug. Please send flowers if I get shot.

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