I have a bad habit I need to confess to.
Well all right, I only have time for one today, but I need to get it off my chest. I think my problem became very clear to Heather, my lovely wife, some 20 years ago when we went to meet with one of our clients, up in the North of England. In Rochdale to be exact.
After lunch, the boss man took Heather to one side and said (I won’t do the accent), “if Mike continues to take the micky out of me, I am going to knock his block off”. But I wasn’t taking the micky, it was just the first example Heather had experienced of my terrible problem.
When speaking to anyone with an accent, within minutes I will be attempting (but badly) to speak in the same lingo. I wonder if there is some kind of 7 steps process that can help me.
To be serious for a moment, the key difference between the UK and the good old US of A is the attitude to guns. Like most Europeans, I find the amount of gun deaths in America to be very disturbing. The quoted figures of less than 50 in the UK, to over 11,000 in the US has to indicate that this is a key problem. But, no matter how many times I try and discuss the issue with sane and grown up Americans, I simply don’t understand the huge commitment the majority have to owning a gun. I am still working hard, but it is something deeply cultural.
If you haven’t seen it, go to YouTube and view some of the Piers Morgan interviews of the last few weeks. Piers is a man that few us in Britain liked, and most were happy to see leave for the US to take up a nightly TV interview slot on CNN. But he is has really come to life in my view, although not in the minds of most Americans, who have started a petition to have him deported.
On a show last week Piers interviewed a Larry Pratt, who looked perfectly normal, argued quite sanely, but when Morgan put the gun death numbers in front of him, he suddenly announced that the UK figures were rigged, and really there were 790 gun deaths a year in the UK. The problem is that people believe these things.
Earlier in the week Piers interviewed an Alex Jones from the NRA (National Rifle Association), who foamed at the mouth, and with bulging eyes told Piers that he needed the guns to ensure that the UK didn’t invade again, invoking the American War of Independence. Bizarre in the extreme to an outsider, but lots of people see him as a hero, people keep telling me they need more guns, not less.
Some of the differences about living in Colorado are a bit weird. When Heather came to give me a kiss earlier, she gave me a shock. I mean an electric shock.
Denver is a mile above sea level, and despite freezing cold temperatures on occasions, it is very dry. The sun shines for over 300 days a year, and it has only rained once in 3 months, both of which make the freezing temperatures more palatable. But the climate, and the wall to wall nylon carpets, creates static electricity like I have never seen before.
The lack of air also means my tennis is hopeless, the balls fly out, and even a short rally leaves me lying on the floor gasping for breath. At the Broncos game this afternoon, some of the opposition footballers were given oxygen on the side lines to enable them to cope.
I needed a bit more than oxygen to cope, football is a great game, but after it went to extra time it took 4 ¼ hours for 1 ¼ hours of action. Unreal, particularly at – 12 degrees C, 75,000 fans created a fantastic atmosphere, but they don’t have a roof. It snowed. And they lost in extra time.
And there were opposition fans in front of us who everyone chatted with, and they even survived the home team managing to lose a game they were 100 – 1 to win at one point.
Earlier in the day we took the boys to have some jabs, they have to have a huge number in order to be allowed to be in school. The fire station where they were giving the inoculations was in a suburb called Aurora, much more of a mixed community than the enclave that is Greenwood Village.
Walking in to the temporary clinic, a couple of the locals greet me, calling out in support of my Broncos shirt, Go Broncos.
As I say, I have this terrible habit of copying the way people speak, honestly, I don’t mean to do it.
And now I can add Jive Talking to my failings, and my family thinks I am a rude and dangerous person.
Anyone know of a cure?