I read a very odd story a few days ago on Front Page Magazine called An American in London, in which Carol Gould recounts how she and other Americans have been repeatedly subjected to anti-American abuse in London.
What I find so frightening is that I cannot conduct business or even take a taxi ride in London, Bournemouth or Edinburgh without a scathing tirade about the scurrilous Yanks. The day after 9/11 I was obliged to keep a consultant’s appointment and the minicab driver informed me that the ‘yellow Americans’ on the four hijacked planes were typical of the way ‘the Yanks do battle’ — they chicken out and let the Brits do the dirty work.
Now the title of my article might suggest that I do not believe what she wrote to be true, but that is not what I am saying. If she says that is what people have said to her, then I will take her at her word. However I also know a significant number of Americans here in the UK and I am puzzled that they do not tell me that they have shared Carol Gould’s experiences. In fact a fellow Samizdatista who is an American, is living in my house most of the time and we often go out places in London both casually and for business and although we talk together (and thereby announce to all nearby that she is an American), I have yet to see her nationality pique the slightest bit of interest from anyone at all. Here in London Americans are like taxicabs… they are just normal part of the fabric of this enormous and most cosmopolitan of cities.
Now I realise that Anti-Americanism exists in Britain… hell, it exists in America (and amongst the same ilk of people generally), but I must say that Ms. Gould describes a Britain that bears very little relation to the one I see every day. No doubt if I actively sought out the people who despise all things American I could find them in so diverse a metropolis, but then I could say the same about almost any set of views. However I suspect I would say the same if I still lived in Manhattan (which I did… and moreover worked in the World Trade Center at the time).
Ms. Gould says she knows many other expat Americans with similar experiences to hers. Well all I can say is we clearly know a very different set of expat Americans then. In fact, we clearly encounter a very different set of British people as well. I do not know what circles Carol Gould moves in but I do not think she has heard the real England speak.
And that is why it seems to me that if we are both in London, then the two of us must be existing in alternate realities.