Friday, 6 April 2007

Core Blimey!

I see that a campaign has been launched to designate a part of New York City as 'Little Britain'. Apparently, New Yorkers feel they'd like to have an area of their fine metropolis that, in the way their Little Italy has come to be a haven for Italianophiles, will resonate with all things British.

On paper, the idea does seem to have legs. The idea that Brits, when visiting the Big Apple, might find a safe harbour, is a sound one.

I suspect, when our American cousins think of Britain, they imagine a small state where everyone (at least the women) wear the latest outfits designed by Twiggy, we all drive minis and where we drink copious amounts of tea.

The reality, however, is much different. I trust they will not be alarmed to find that the Little Britain they create is merely a microcosm of their own fair nation. So Americanised have we become, that we are now much more likely to be dressed by GAP, to drive a huge 4x4 and to be sipping, even if a little self-consciously, from a plastic beaker of foamed milk and a shot of coffee.

It got me thinking about what 'being British' really means. It's a brave man who accuses Bill Blunt of not being a patriot, but I fear that any notion of Britishness has long gone - if, indeed, it ever existed.

Still, if it makes them happy, I'm pleased to add my still, small voice to the campaign. I shall have a word with Thomas Hamburger Jnr, too, to see if I can't persuade both him and his fictional creation Harry McFry to lend their support. Harry looks to me like the kind of guy who would look for the first 'British' pub he could find whenever he was abroad.

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