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Dad's Army Dad's Army's Captain Mainwaring and his gentlemanly warriors. Photo: BBC

Miss Patricia Makes Britain Great Again
Or is that Grate? The wicked Miss P looks at what makes a Brit a Brit ...and of course what makes an all-American girl feel American
Published on March 10, 2018

As there have been many months of headlines such as 'Put the Great Back in Great Britain', the question on thin British lips has been 'What makes us British, exactly?'

I think Britishness might best be illustrated with some of their greatest quotes:

"If one hadn't a few acres in London in these times of agricultural depression, I don't know what one would do." – The 9th Duke of Bedford, referring to all of Covent Garden

"We always have been ... and I hope that we always shall be ... detested in France." – The Duke of Wellington

"Publish and be damned." – Wellington again, in response to a blackmail threat. Yes, he IS one of my favourites. I have long enjoyed picturing airport security trying to get Wellington to remove his boots due to terrorist threats. He'd soon put a stop to this nonsense!

"I'm going outside and may be some time." – Antarctic explorer Captain Lawrence Oates, sacrificing himself to better his companions' chances of survival

"I've seen those little dots before and always wondered what they meant." – I can't recall which peer said this, upon being told that a missing decimal would cause a mistake of a hundred times, but if one tries to Google the answer, one finds only acne products.

"Swaziland was like Wales, but with sunshine." – Lady on my train

I love the patriotism that is still untainted here in Britain, whereas back in the Western USA, cynicism took over long ago.

Dad's Army is a favorite Britcom filmed decades ago, when everyone's grandfather was still around to bore the family with memories, so the scriptwriters were able to portray wartime quite accurately. Most interesting to me were scenes of everyday life during the war: people queueing with their ration books, or trading on the sly for black market treats. The jokes might be a bit dated, but the comic characters are lovely ... aging village gentlemen who have volunteered for the Home Guard, they meet each week and drill in preparation for a potential German invasion. Everyone in Britain knows someone represented by the beloved characters.

'Captain Mainwaring' is someone every English person recognizes: ridiculously pompous, fussy and self-important, he believes he is doing what's right, and is also stoutly loyal.

In one episode, the men go to the cinema together, all in uniform, and at the end of the film, 'God Save the Queen' begins to play over the speakers. The 'show' audience scrambles out to avoid having to stand for the national anthem, and the real TV audience laughs in guilty recognition of themselves. Mainwaring, however, stands solemnly at attention for it, even though he is alone in the room and no one can see him.

Character is revealed by what you do when no one's looking.

THAT'S British. Just last week, friends were telling me about the scope of Britain's influence in the world despite its small size, and they proudly detailed all the good they felt had been done in various parts of the world (although India during the partition might have been in opposition).

I wish I could feel the same about the USA ... but ... 'America: Love It or Leave It'. Our relationship might be going through a rough patch.

Here are things that make me feel AMERICAN.

I went to a wedding in Colorado last year, and a sign outside a church read 'Our Prayers are with Sutherland'. I was tempted to suggest a taller sign, so they could just cross out the latest mass shooting and paint in the next one underneath. Now it would be two storeys tall.

The recent attack on YouTube was especially sensitive in our household, because our daughter works there, but weirdly, I didn't feel all that alarmed at the time. For one thing, the same digital world that attracted the 'shooter' (as they are now rather romantically titled) also provided instant reassurance through the Facebook feature of 'I'm Safe'. For another, I felt confident that she could hide in one of Google's office nap pods, or she might escape quickly via their giant play slides. And if those plans failed, she could be rescued by colleague Zach Vorhies.

Mr Vorhies is a 37-year-old software engineer at YouTube, and when he realized what was happening, he took off on his SKATEBOARD and accidentally went the wrong way toward the incident. So with three emergency plans in place, my daughter's totally safe.

One of her classmates at an International School in England announced that for his summer vacation abroad, he got to be the driver for his dad's arms dealing business. Where we come from, boys spend the summer brushing cows for the county fair. Well, that, and watering their marijuana plants, and my dentist says he often gets paid in cash that smells like dope ... dental work is not usually deductible so requires no tax record, unless your last name is Kardashian.

'Kardashian' is a name first made famous when Dad Robert reactivated his law license in order to help defend buddy OJ Simpson, who was accused of nearly beheading wife Nicole. What are friends for?

' ...Old family values like trust and friendship are increasingly rare,' Kardashian said in one interview. His old family values included divorcing his wife who then married Bruce Jenner who then also divorced her so he too could be a lady. Daughter Kim, after providing replacements for herself and her third husband, then hired a girl to have a spare baby in case the first two don't work out.

NOW I feel American again!


Kim Kardashian on a dollar bill © Nikko Russano

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