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My mother, bless her, was a weirdly unabashed Anglophile. Both my parents had a strange affection for all things British, which was particularly odd since they were both descendants of groups of people who had every reason to hate them thoroughly and were pretty egalitarian in their views. I am mostly Scottish, with Irish, Welsh, Norman French, and Native American blood thrown into the mix, all people who suffered in one dreadful form or another from the heavy hand of British empirical aggression. Nevertheless, my mother had a keen interest in the royal family that she shared with us whether we were interested or not. She had a huge picture book celebrating the coronation of Elizabeth II and her ancestors that was prominently displayed that I can remember looking through as a kid, along with a great many volumes on British history. Wellington was a big hero with my parents and my mother used to regale us with tales of his brilliance and general greatness while simultaneously vilifying Napoleon as the worst kind of meglomaniacal tyrant . Saying anything good about Napoleon in my house was tantamount to praising Attila the Hun for his excellent manners. My mother lived in a very black and white world.
As we got older and did more reading on our own we all ended up rejecting our parents love affair with things English. It was not, if you'll excuse the expression, our cup of tea. Not that there weren't things that came out of British culture that we liked, like Shakespeare and Dickens, we just didn't buy wholesale into the whole business, particularly any admiration for the British Crown and royal family, which we found sort of silly. I suspect our mother was rather disappointed in our rejection of her Anglophilia, in fact, I know she was since she didn't hesitate to tell us so. I suspect my father really didn't care one way or the other, he usually didn't. He tended not to invest much emotion in things like that.
My brother mentioned to me the other day how pleased our mother would have been because every time you turn on the TV you see some British person on it. British actors are all over American television and there seem to be a growing number of British comedians, news people, and pundits on the tube. I don't have a TV and even I have noticed it. She would have loved it while we find it rather puzzling and somehow vaguely disturbing. I kind of get the British actors thing; let's face it, acting is their thing and they tend to be much better at it than we are. For one thing, I suspect they are far better trained. In this country, we seem to believe that good acting is somehow congruent with good looks, which just demonstrates how depressingly superficial we can be and clearly indicates that we have a rather low level of expectation in that regard. Bad acting is OK, just look good while you are doing it.
The news commentators and pundits are somewhat more confusing. I'm not sure that I get how someone born and raised in Britain is qualified to actually be one, but I guess it is a small world after all.
I confess to getting somewhat annoyed when anyone British feels compelled to be too critical of some of our policies, not because I agree with those policies necessarily, but because it seems to me that a lot of what we are can be traced directly back to our British heritage. I met a British person some time ago who was going on at length about what was wrong with us how much better Britain was and I got a little tired of hearing it. I told him that I didn't feel compelled to listen to anything he had to say since everything we knew about wretched imperialism we learned sitting on a tuffet at the feet of the British blood soaked throne and that our problems with racism were a result of their institutionalizing the whole business of slavery and building an entire economy on it as a commodity, which we were stuck with when we finally had the good sense to throw them out on their ears. I also pointed out that although they had given the world some great writers and brilliant scientists, they had also given us the Spice Girls and Mr Bean, to name just two things we could have happily lived without, and then I suggested that if he wanted to find a group of people to hold hands and sing the praises of theat useless group of inbred Germans they called a royal family, he might want to go outside, turn north, and walk to Canada, where he should seek old some older folks since the young Canadians were not so much with the 'Rule Britannia'.
I admit, it was a little harsh, and it could be possible that the poor guy had to suffer a little for the many years I had to sit and listen to my mother torment me with the latest news on the doings of the royal family. But still – I wasn't wrong.
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