Since I’ve become Managing Editor of this here site here, there’s been one thing that the Magic Community at large has pointed out about me.
No, it’s not that I’m bald… though, of course, I am.
It’s not that I’m fat… though again, I can’t deny it.
It’s the fact that I’m, well… English.
“Goddamn,” you Yankees yabber, between polishing your guns and eating your apple pie, “The editor of StarCityGames is a freakin’ Limey? So the site’s gonna be flooded with cups of tea, boiled crumpets, and terrible dentistry? Why, I oughta moidah ya!”
Yes, I am English. And yes, I still flinch when I delete the “u” from the word “color,” and I have to Google a number of cultural references supplied in certain articles, lest I print something foolish. I’m learning, slowly: I know who Mr. Rogers is, and I know the rules of Baseball (if applied with broad strokes)… but sometimes the references are so obscure I flounder.
It’s not just the media references… Sure, I know that Kennedy was shot, and that you apparently sent men to the moon (whereas English “astronauts” get a column in the paper for climbing a staircase rather briskly), but I get lost in what you laughingly refer to as “history.”
The thing is, I like America. I’ve visited the place a number of times… mostly through Pro Tour trips, but once on a bona-fide holiday. Sorry, vacation. I plan to visit again, very soon, aside from any Pro Tour action I may (or may not) achieve in future.
When Ted visited London, he made no bones of his Anglophile stance. That said, in a SCG Daily article not long after, he was rather disparaging of a number of English foibles, not least our cuisine. Well, quite frankly, it’s payback time. Although it may be rather churlish of me (note for Americans: that’s a posh word for “rude”), here are couple of the myths of American excellence finally, and irrevocably, debunked.
1) America has great service, in restaurants and shops.
Okay, so this is largely true. Whenever I shop or eat over in the States, the service is indeed unsurpassed. However, the implication is that the English service industry pales by comparison. Absolute rubbish, my friends.
I live in the North of England (note for Americans: this is located somewhere outside London). The service here is wonderful. Everyone is friendly, asking about your day, waving you off with a cheery smile as you cart home your bag of egg and chips. Granted, service in the South of England, especially London, is far below this happy level. In the words of the great Northern comedian and songwriter, John Shuttleworth…
“When I go shopping in the North, I find
The service is always splendid.
A cheery smile you can count on, while
The correct change in being tended.
If anyone dares criticize their wares,
They never will be offended.
If it needs repairs, they’ll even lend you theirs,
While yours is being mended.
“But when I shop in the South, I find
The shop-girls are all so haughty.
Standing there with their nose in the air,
As if you’ve done something naughty.
My ‘how do you do?’ in the chip-shop queue
Was received in a stony silence…
And my ‘take care, cock!’ in the butcher’s shop
Was met with a look of violence.”
The thing is, bad service is something we English secretly love. We like complaining, even if this complaint is nothing more than an admonishing glare. Our national heritage is built around a stiff upper lip — how can we keep our defeatist cynicism when faced with “Have a Nice Day” and “Y’all come back now, y’hear!”…?
You lot can keep your smiley staff and forced platitudes. Give me bored apathy any day. At least we don’t feel bad when we don’t tip the waitress.
2) In America, everything is Bigger.
Again, this is true. On my recent holiday vacation to Florida, the hire-car we commandeered was larger than my mother’s house. We knew we’d need a map to navigate the mean streets of Kissimmee, but we never thought we’d need a map to navigate the car itself.
Everything is bigger in the USA. The cars are huge, the meals are huge, the people are huge… but again, the implication here is that this is a good thing.
England is a small country. In fact, it’s so small it’d probably fit inside the White House. As such, we’re used to small spaces and tight corners. Drive an American car on the streets of London, and you’ll either get stuck down an alleyway before you can blink, or you’ll have your shiny American hubcaps stolen by cheery ragamuffins dressed in Burberry.
And your buildings! My god! Are American architects all hung like mice? There’s some serious substitution going on somewhere, I can tell you. With all the space you have over there, I’m surprised you’ve not yet learnt to build horizontally. In comparison, English architects must be related to Ron Jeremy… the tallest building in Leeds has four floors, and three of them are underground.
We’re Magic players… we know that big doesn’t always mean beautiful. In terms of mana curve, England is a Llanowar Elf: solid, dependable, and Green. America is Draco: massive, ungainly, and mechanical. And only used in obscure combos that involve manipulation and trickery. Sure, England won’t win you the match, but at least it won’t sit in your hand being useless for half the war game.
I don’t want oversized cars.
I don’t want massive, comedy buildings a mile high.
I don’t want ridiculously-sized portions at meal-time.
Actually, that last one’s a lie. I’m a fat guy, remember?
As I’m sure you’re aware, the above is all tongue-in-cheek. In reality, I love America to bits. My girlfriend is particularly fond of the States, so much so that we’d like to move there one day. Not for a while, mind… but one day. She’s totally immersed in American culture. As for me, I’m sure I’d survive… as long as I could still watch the footy, and was guaranteed a steady supply of Tetley Tea and Hobnobs.
One thing I’d miss? The twenty-man PTQs. Boy, you guys must hate us for that.
Beneath it all, however, I’m happy to be English. Not proud, as that conjures up all sorts of images of Nationalism, with certain baggage I’d like to avoid… but happy. So you can continue the God Save the Queen jibes if you must… but beware, because every now and then, this Brit Bites Back.
Later in the week, I’m opening the column to an Ask the Editor feature. Anything you’d like to know? Send your queries to Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2. Be sure to put “Ask The Editor” in your subject line, lest I mistake you for a Nigerian Millionaire and delete you immediately.