Another unwanted American import

black-friday-shoppers1Anyone reading my journal might be forgiven for thinking I have become obsessed with the Americans. I haven’t. But they do have an annoying habit of sneaking through one’s defences and getting under the skin. I think I have made my feelings about the crackpot President quite plain, and I have no time for their loud, in your face attitude or their belief that money can buy anything.

Of the many things that annoy me about our cousins across the pond, the one that I find the most unforgivable is their propensity for exporting their more inane ideas. And this week we saw probably the worst of the American imports, Black Friday. To me, this one event symbolises all that is wrong with the American culture, if there is such a thing, particularly as it follows immediately after Thanksgiving. The idea behind the Thanksgiving celebration is not new, events to mark the harvest and the good fortunes of the preceding year have been celebrated throughout the world for millenia. I have nothing against this idea and am happy to see our cousins come together in harmony and celebrate their good fortune. But to then follow this inspiring event with the most flagrantly consumerist binge is almost obscene. The founding Pilgrims would be turning in their graves if they could see what their ancestors had done to their original celebration of good fortune.

I should point out that I have no problem with what the American’s chose to do on their own soil. If they want to celebrate the excesses of consumerism as if it were some kind of religion, then they can do, just so long as it stays on their side of the pond. The trouble starts when these blatantly consumerist ideas start trickling over here, contaminating our British values of reserve and moderation. The images and stories one sees in the newspapers are quite frightening. People fighting over a new television or item of clothing is quite obscene and very un-British. Once again we find ourselves imitating the worst behaviour of our American cousins. Yes, I have read the headlines about the boost to the country’s economy, but at what cost?  It is by these small acts that we begin to lose our identity. Do we really want to become a mirror image of the United States?

It wouldn’t surprise me to find that within a year or two we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Not that I have anything against the thing itself, so long as it stays on the right side of the Atlantic. After all, we have already had rock and roll, Black Friday, school proms and baby showers. What next? I ask myself.

And what about all that Trick or Treating we saw last month? Whilst I have never been a fan of Haloween itself, at least when I was a child it was just about bobbing apples and maybe a bit of dressing up and a scary movie or two. Now it is all about greed. Haloween has become big business and just another excuse for excess and spending. And anyway, Haloween is one of those strange days that we really shouldn’t be celebrating at all. All Hallows Eve is a pagan celebration that has no place in a Christian society and the commercialisation of it makes the whole thing even worse.

Not that we are directly affected. It is one of the benefits of living where I do that casual visitors can’t get to us. But I know from what I have heard from others that these trick-or-treaters are a real nuisance, knocking on the door and demanding sweets with menaces! It is a typically American idea and one that we could well do without.

But getting back to imports from America, it is not only celebrations and commercialism that we had adopted. Our TV screens are filled with shows imported from the USA, our language has been infiltrated, and American-styled fast foods dominate our high street. There are some imports we really do not need, and the American culture is by far the most noticeable.

Unfortunately, there seems to be some kind of stigma attached to having a pride in being British. Well, as far I am concerned, I am British and proud of it. I am not some new-fangled, gender-neutral citizen of some imagined a global state. I am British and proud of it. Let the American’s keep their inane consumerist celebrations, we don’t need them and should not be expected to follow them.

 

 

Divided by a common language

Today I had another of those tedious meetings with one of my managers. This time I had the dubious pleasure of meeting the head of PR and Marketing, Miss Langdon. Whilst I openly admit that talking to my heads of Logistics and Human Resources had left me underwhelmed and a little baffled, today’s little chat was in a league of its own.  Where Human Resources mangle the Queen’s English in a manner that makes it almost unintelligible, the language of PR and Marketing is about as easy to follow as Esperanto, and twice as incomprehensible.

Not only did I not understand two-thirds of the things she said, I am convinced that she was making some of the words and phrases up as she went along. I mean, what is all this about “blue sky thinking”? Does she expect me to stare at the clouds and daydream? And who came up with the phrase “white eye time”? I am all too familiar with the red-eye but was totally at a loss to understand this particular direction of our conversation. And when did it become accepted practice to speak in abbreviations? On several occasions, Miss Langdon would prefix a sentence with “FYI”. It wasn’t until afterwards when I asked my secretary about it that I understood what it meant. Needless to say, I was decidedly unimpressed by what I heard, or at least by the little I understood.

I think that anyone who knows me will accept that whilst I am not always the most on the ball when it comes to current affairs and business, I am not stupid. My parents spent a great deal of money on my education and I am pretty sure it can’t have been all wasted. So why do I feel so out of my depth and confused following these meetings? Is it too much to ask to expect people to talk in plain, simple English? I am sure my father would not have put up with all this gobbledygook.

I mean to say, English is such a beautiful language. It is the language of romance, of poetry and music. It can be so lyrical and magical, a joy to read and to hear. Whilst I can understand why the chaps from the colonies, particularly the Americans and West Indies, have manipulated it to make it their own, there can be no excuse for educated people from the City to try to do the same thing.

And it’s not just in the office I see examples of our wonderful language being murdered. I hear plenty of conversations in bars and restaurants where the phrases and words used seem to be designed to confuse rather than enlighten. At least at the Club, the Queen’s English is very much the language of choice. You won’t hear anyone dropping the term  “blue skies” into a conversation unless of course, they are talking about the weather.

Of course, I appreciate that language changes with time. Like everything else, it evolves. Anyone who has read Shakespear or Chaucer will acknowledge that. Even the words of the great Charles Dickens can seem a little odd these days. But from what I recall from my school days, evolution is a slow and natural process, and I don’t feel there is anything at all natural about blue sky thinking and FYI! It seems to me that insecure managers have collaborated together to create a linguistic barrier to anyone else encroaching on their territory. It seems nothing more than a device to secure their own positions whilst excluding those they perceive to be outsiders. One needs to learn the lingo, so to speak, if one wants to join the club.

Well, I am not going to play their games. In future, it is plain old Queens English or nothing. I am going to make it my mission to rid the company of business gobbledygook once and for all.

Once I had finished my chat with Miss Langdon I spent the rest of the morning with my secretary Miss Drayton. I wanted to get her view on the people who run the various departments. After all, she deals with all of them and I have learned to trust her instincts. I have also often found that women tend to be better judges of character than men. I don’t know whether it’s the hormones or part of the mother instinct, but they do seem to be able to see beyond the facade that some people manage to build for themselves. Miss Drayton is particularly astute at spotting those who have things to hide, or who are not quite as they seem. Actually, it makes me wonder why our head of Personel (or Human Resources as they like to call it) is a man. Surely this is a role better suited to a woman? Anyway, according to Miss Drayton, all the various department heads are very reliable and loyal. That doesn’t mean to say she trusts them all, but she says she knows how to handle them, and when they can be trusted and when they can’t.

I did consider taking Miss Drayton to lunch, but after what happened last time, I decided against it. It seems that it is not just our language that has changed beyond all recognition in recent years. These days a man can’t take his secretary out to lunch without his intentions being misconstrued. My father often took his secretaries out for meals and such like and no one thought anything of it. Or at least, if they did nothing was ever said to me. Ah well, I suppose that is the modern world for you. Maybe it is time I returned to the old family homestead in the country for a short while. I do love living in the city, but sometimes I like to return to the old estate, just to recharge the batteries and regain my perspective on life. Perhaps once Dorothy has left for Edinburgh on Saturday I could take myself away for a couple of days. I can’t be away for too long of course as I am attending an event at Hope’s gallery next week.

Anyway, I must dash, I am meeting Dorothy and Angela for a farewell dinner. I believe that we are being joined by a couple of her friends. I just hope they aren’t those theatrical types. I have had a stressful enough day without having to deal with a room full of lovies!

 

 

 

A frank exchange of views

One of the things I really enjoy about the Club, aside from the excellent food and extensive wine cellar, is that one never knows who is going to be there and which way conversations will go. There is such a variety of views that discussions are never boring, and can at times become quite heated. However, there is one thing that unites almost all of the members, and that is our concern over the terrible state our country is in at the moment. What we cannot agree on is the cause of the problem and how to fix it.

Quite a few of the chaps, and I include myself in this, are getting just a little impatient with the government over the whole Brexit thing. I will be the first to admit that I am not always the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to politics and finance, but even I can see that things aren’t going so well. The media is constantly referring to it as a divorce, which I suppose in a way it is, with both sides fighting over the family silver. My worry is that whilst the Union chappies seem fairly united in their approach, we are still fighting amongst ourselves over what we want to get out of the process. We can all see that despite what the Prime Minister says there is very little unanimity even in her own government.

What some of the chaps are saying is that they are more worried about the uncertainty and bickering than they are about Brexit itself. Like any divorce, each side wants to get the best it can for itself. Even the most amicable of separations will inevitably result in some conflict of interests; not that I have much experience of this kind of thing. What most people seem to want is certainty. I know one or two of my friends have business interests in the City and they are the ones most concerned about all the dithering and in-fighting. Apparently, the uncertainty about what is going to happen after Brexit is having an impact on investments and trade. I suppose I am in the same boat having investments of my own in City properties. Which reminds me that I really must talk to Aunt Murdock about this when I see her next.

There is still some disagreement amongst the chaps about how best to go about the Brexit negotiations. On one hand, there are those who want Mrs May to take a very firm stand and refuse any kind of compromise. On the other, and these are mainly the same people who supported the remain argument, there are those who want us to take what they refer to as a more pragmatic and open approach. I am not entirely sure which will be best for the country, but I suspect that it is somewhere in the middle. Even I know that there is never going to be a deal that satisfies the demands of both sides completely so we will have to accept some form of compromise. I am sure the debate will rumble on at the bar and, if the past week is anything to go by, it will only get more heated.

It is not just at the Club that the subject of Brexit rears it’s ugly head from time to time. Dorothy and Angela have been very vociferous in their support of remaining in the EU and are still very angry at the result. Angela has even spoken about getting herself a German passport. It seems that her mother’s family are from Germany so she can claim dual nationality if she wishes. I know that a number of people have done this recently, but to me, it seems a little futile unless one is actually planning to move there. I am not sure Dorothy would be too happy about that, but I am not going to interfere with their relationship or plans. What Dorothy has said on more than one occasion is that she is embarrassed by the whole thing. She has a lot of foreign friends and says that they can’t understand why we would want to leave the European club. I have tried to explain about sovereignty and the British standing in the world, but for some reason, she just can’t seem to understand it. I know that some people have implied it is some form of nostalgia for the days of the old Empire, but, at least as far as I am concerned, it isn’t that. It is just about being in control of our own destiny and our own laws. We should not be dictated to by other people. The rules and regulations we have to accept from Brussels are scandalous. For me, it is all about being able to decide things for ourselves. No one likes to be dictated to by outsiders who don’t understand our history or our customs. The French, Spanish and Germans have all tried to defeat us in war and failed; we can’t let them succeed by the back door.

Another subject that seems to have been creating something of a buzz at the bar this week is that of the Prime Minister’s position. I didn’t follow the events of the Party conferences – far too boring and narcissistic for my liking, all that self-congratulation and pompous self-righteousness does nothing for me – but those who do were very critical of Mrs May’s performance and the way she has been treated by the Party. I have to admit to having a great deal of respect for Mrs May, but even I am beginning to think that maybe she isn’t up to the job of leading us through our current troubles. Not that there seems to be a great deal of choice for replacement at the moment. With the Party so divided over Europe I don’t honestly think that there is anyone else capable of uniting all sides, and as far as I am concerned, unity is far more important than anything else right now.

There is only one subject at the moment that seems to have almost unanimous agreement with the chaps at the bar, and that is our mutual distrust of the American President, Donald Trump. Whilst he may be successful as a businessman – and there seems to be a little disagreement even over that – as a politician and diplomat he is very much out of his depth. The man seems to have absolutely no idea of how the world actually works. Several of the regulars at the Club have financial interests in the aircraft industry and are very angry over Trump’s recent announcements over the imposition of tariffs on Bombardier aircraft. One gets the feeling that he makes these announcements without thinking them through first. I certainly get the feeling that he doesn’t discuss things with his staff before taking to social media to make is pronouncements. I suppose that he is used to having complete control of his businesses and can’t seem to grasp the idea that his decisions have to me about more than just making money. America is not a business, it is a country, and it cannot be run in quite the same way. Having said that, Americans can be a little odd that way, putting financial gain ahead of everything else. I have said it before, they are a nation with no history and no idea of social etiquette. It is unfortunate that they have so much power and influence or we could just ignore them and let them get on with playing their silly games.

Mind you, we do have to be careful when discussing the Americans, and their President in particular, if my old chum Dorchester is around. Apparently, his American girlfriend is a Trump supporter (a Trump-et!) and he is very defensive of her views. According to Annabelle, the President can do no wrong. She fully supports his positions on immigration, North Korea and protecting American businesses. And whilst I can sort of see her point and some of his decisions, I cannot support her misguided view that Donald Trump is the saviour of the western world. The man’s a fruitcake I would hesitate to leave in control of a Sunday School, let alone a country.

Changing the subject completely, I had a call yesterday from Hope about some event or other she is holding at her gallery in a couple of weeks time. Apparently, it is one of those evenings when new artists get to display their work and she has asked me to go along. Of course, I have accepted the invitation, but I am not sure it is really my kind of thing. I have seen some of the work she has on display and it is all far too modern for me. My taste is more conservative I suppose, but she has been kind enough to ask me, so I will definitely have to go. I had thought of inviting Dorothy to join me, but she will be in Edinburgh by then.

 

Back from Wimbledon

Good evening everyone. I am back now from my week at Wimbledon and it’s time to catch up a little. Now, Wimbledon is one of those quintessentially British events that no one else can match. There are plenty of tournaments on the “tour” but none have the prestige and glamour of Wimbledon, and to be there, to be part of it, is something special. And this year we had the benefit of some excellent tennis. It was a shame to see dear old Andy Murray fall by the wayside before the semi-finals, but I suppose you can’t have everything.

It was also delightful to see that fine young lady Johanna Konta play so well. I hope that this time next year I will be celebrating a new British ladies champion. Such a lovely young lady.

It was a delight to meet up with the usual crowd. I had more than one interesting afternoon in the company of Sir Cliff and the wonderful Mrs May. Cliff is looking his age these days, I think the events if the past year have really taken their toll on the poor man. I have to admit to being slightly in awe of Mrs May. She has also been through quite a lot over the past twelve months or so, so it was a relief to see her so relaxed.

I do enjoy my time at Wimbledon, but this year it was spoilt more than a little by the presence of a very loud and even more opinionated American. I made the mistake of inviting my good friend Dorchester and his new lady friend, Annabel. Whilst Dorchester and I have known each other for many years, I only met his latest conquest last Saturday. Spending so much time in close proximity to a friend and his lady love is not something I would advise. It has been a frightful experience that I have no intention of repeating any time soon.

Spending the week with an American has done nothing to change my opinion of them. If anything, it has strengthened my views. Not only are they loud and opinionated, they have also managed to butcher our beautiful language. Not only have they changed the spelling of perfectly good words, they have started inventing some of their own. Annabel got rather upset when I pointed these things out to her, especially after she had told me her family were in Real Estate. I mean, what on earth is “real estate”? Do we have any unreal estates? And where did the job title Realter come from? What’s wrong with a good old-fashioned Estate Agent? Annabel took exception to my criticism of her fellow Americans and refused to speak to for the rest of the evening.

Americans are a strange breed. I have heard it said that we are two nations separated by a common language, and I can honestly say from my own experience this week just how true that is.

But, aside from problems with my guest, it turned out to be a very good week. The weather was very kind to us this year with beautiful sunshine for virtually the whole week. Despite going out early, I did see Murray play some wonderful tennis. And to watch Federer win a record breaking eighth Wimbledon title was a real privilege.

Once again, I am glad to be home. I have a couple of days before I travel north to catch the final two days of the Open. Time now to catch up on what has been happening down at the Club.

4th July, not in very good taste

Normally on a Tuesday evening I would make my way to the Club for a social drink or two, maybe even play a game of snooker. But yesterday I was persuaded by a small group of close friends to join them in visiting a rather new and apparently very good drinking establishment a little up river. Being the obliging chap, I am I agreed to what I thought would be a jolly evening.

Well, what they neglected to tell me was that the establishment in question is an American themed bar which, it being the 4th July, was rather busy with a mixture of real and would-be Americans celebrating their “Independence Day”.

I know that Americans tend to make a lot of this particular anniversary, but I think the whole thing is in rather bad taste, particularly when it is being celebrated here in England. I mean, we are supposed to have a special relationship, are supposed to be friends, yet they insist on making a big song and dance about the day they broke away from us, over 200 years ago.

It’s not as if they had it bad. Far from it! They were enjoying the fruits of British ingenuity, commerce and science, and they threw it all away, all over the price of tea! And for what benefit? In no time they were reduced to being cowboys (nothing much has changed there).

The trouble with the Americans is they think they are better than everyone else. Well, let me tell you, they are definitely not. Yes, they are a big country, and undoubtedly a powerful one these days, but they owe everything to us.

One thing the Americans will never have is class. For them, money is everything. They like to think it isn’t, that there is more to their social structure, but really there isn’t. The acquisition of wealth has become the goal, and the route to power. Without money, you are nothing. If you have money, you have social standing, without it, you don’t. Thankfully that does not apply here; breeding is breeding, whether you have wealth behind you or not.

Just look at the way they revere our Royal family and the way they are continually searching for links to our great families. They have no history of their own so are trying to steal ours. Whilst they play at being republicans, in reality they are jealous of our monarchy. They could learn a lot from those pesky French who have at least embraced republicanism with real enthusiasm.

nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runnersNot that all Americans are bad, just so long as they recognise, and stick to, their place. And that’s where I have problems with their current President. On the one hand, you have to admire the way he has built his fortune. He is a single minded and ruthless businessman who seems to own most of the states. But on the other hand, he is an ignorant oaf and a bully. I can’t be doing with bullies; I had enough of them during my school days and can’t stand to see it in leading public figures like Trump. He is brutish, disrespectful and has no idea how to treat a lady. He epitomises all that is worst with modern America.

For me, last night became something of a chore. And to think that Dorchester is seeing an American at the moment. I wonder if they spent the evening in a similar bar celebrating with other former colonials. I think I should pay more attention to the date in future when they chaps suggest a night up river.

 

Shock news for a Friday night

Before I say anything else, I have to admit to being a little the worst for wear today. It was a rather long and lively evening at the Club and I am not at my best this afternoon. I can’t help feeling I must be getting old when a drink or three over the odds leaves me feeling a little delicate.

I was at the Club when one of the old retainers sidled over to me and passed on the juiciest bit of gossip. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not one for idle chitter-chatter and would normally have shushed the man away, but as his news involved one of my particular friends, I just had to hear him out.

Well, it seems that my old chum Dorchester has gone and got himself engaged to be married.

I know! It’s quite a surprise. I almost dropped my glass of Glenlivet when I heard. The strange thing about it is that I only saw him at the weekend, just before we left Ascot, and the blighter never said a thing.

Sure, I had heard he was getting very close to a young foreign lady, but I had no idea it was serious. Who would have thought it hey? The scourge of the female dorms brought to heel by a foreigner.

Mind you, he isn’t the first to fall for their exotic charms and even more exotic ways. I’ve seen it all before, and it always ends badly. I mean, these foreign women just don’t understand our ways, and, why should they? Even European women can be trouble on the matrimony front, but the further east you go the more trouble you are asking for.

And that is what worries me about Dorchester’s proposed nuptials. You see, according to old Neighsmith, the lady in question is from the far east – the Philippines he believes. We all know that Filipinoes aren’t for marrying. They make excellent domestic help, apparently, but you should never consider marrying them. That just isn’t on.

Neighsmith has it on good authority that his new-found lady love has actually come to him through some kind of online agency. I have heard that online shopping is all the rage at the moment, but I hadn’t realised you could actually buy a bride this way. Of course, Neighsmith could very well be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time the poor chap has grasped the wrong end of the stick and got his hands messy.

But why would a decent chap like Dorchester want to marry a Filipino for heaven’s sake? I mean, by all means take one as a domestic or whatever, but not as a wife. It is a ghastly idea and I do hope it is all a bit of a misunderstanding. If it is true than I really do worry about the future for our great country. I for one have no intention of heading down this particular path. Heaven forbid!

Of course it goes without saying that I am not a racist. Anyone who knows me will tell you that. It is just that we need to keep up standards or what will become of us all? I think it is safe to say that all the chaps are of the same mind as myself over this. I am hoping to see Dorchester whilst at Wimbledon this year. Hopefully then I can get to the bottom of this.

In the meantime I think it is time I called it a day and got myself ready for the evening. Aunt Murdock has invited me to the theatre to see some play or another. Not sure what it is, but I have to keep the old dear happy as she has her hands on the old purse strings so to speak.