Fr0m U.K. to U.S.A. A Brit Talks about England
SusyLuvsPaul last edited by
(Note: This is a feature story of mine from 1986 I wrote that I found among my newspaper clippings. The guy Terry Graham uprooted his family from England to the Southern county seat town I was born in and I chatted him up on his thoughts on the big move. Will Brits here agree with him on some things, I wonder, also wonder how England has changed since then.--SUSY) Expatriate Brits the Terry Graham family have given -------county and -------the ultimate compliment by choosing this for their new home, braving oceans and miles of bureaucratic red tape to get here and become United States citizens. Terry's wife and two children came across with him five years ago. They drove up and down the East Coast scouting out sites for relocation before deciding on ----------- as desirable for settling down. Terry's parents, Doreen and Dennis Graham, moved here over a month ago after they "came out for vacations and fell in love with the country," his brother is moving here too, "and my sister's over on an extended holiday and we're hoping to get her papers," said Terry. Why here? Terry took time out from his busy foreign car repair business to talk. "There's a place in Long Island that's just like England, but it was the weather we were after, and the slower pace of life. I never wanted to knock meself out and work meself to death, don't care about being the millionaire. I like this town. I was born in Watford, a suburb of London, it's like saying I come from Forest Acres here. London's composed of small subdivisions. When I came here, I had to slow down my speech, when I did, people tended to get more precise. My youngest, five years old, speaks 'Southern American.' I notice some Olde English dialects in the speech of Native Americans here." Terry compared the entire U.S. to "Disneyland, it's amazing, and keeps your interest. America's so big. Things are at least one-half price cheaper than in England, and England is cold and rains a lot, so life there is more in than outside the house. An Englishman's home is his castle, cause the weather is so miserable! You go down to your local pub to get cheered up, to see your neighbors and have a social life, throw darts, it's not so much to drink. You can't have cookouts like you do here. You can't rely on the weather." "I'm not real homesick," he said. "I'm not so stupid I don't realize that when you're away from a place, you tend to romanticize it a bit. I've noticed history more, because this country's so young. In England buildings over a thousand years old are still standing and being used. This is better; this is my home now, and I would never leave America. Life is so easy here compared to Europe. "In England, my wife and I held four jobs between us just to have a house." Terry discovered his mechanical ability at an early age when his father brought three motor scooters home. "I was a disaster area, always taking things apart, but I could put them back together again." Auto mechanics must be "electronics experts" now to keep up with their trade, he noted, "with the cars coming out nowadays." Terry's Michael Caine-ish accent makes all his statements sound bright, which they really are--trying to match him verbally feels like being on a roller coaster. It's evident he is deeply thoughtful, considers all aspects, notices things. He praised the strength and practicality of his native countrymen. "The English stock is made up of all sorts, the Gauls, Brits, Romans, Saxons who were forever invading the land many centuries ago, and it really made us tough." The English Channel, he added with a laugh, proved an inviting challenge for outsiders in ancient times. A man came in to chat about Rolls Royces. "There are about five Rolls Royces in town now," Terry explained. He betrayed a soft spot for the British royal family. "They're very good for England. It's like a fairy land in that way, we still do things with Kings and Queens and bring out carriages and horses and the guards, and it's about the last country where the royal family's held so high...the British Royal Family has got a lot of German in them. Their faimly has always been connected with kings and queens of many countries; the way peace was kept was for one king's daughter to marry another king's son from another land to keep peace together." Before WWII, "Germany considered England a close friend, but what was going on with the Jews was a bit much, and we had to intervene. Some of my family joined up and were killed in the war. The Germans had been taken over by a dictator and would be shot by the SS if they said anything.The Nazis certainly shot their own members as well, if they dissented. Most of the German people and others were unaware of the Nazi death camps until too late. France was the only country that allowed the Nazis to invade. That's because the French were chicken. The French Resistance, the underground, was actually mostly composed of other nationalities, especially British. I think the French will always go with whomever's winning and that they're cowards." The ultimate horror of Northern Ireland's troubles, he thinks from his English perspective, is that "the I.R.A. (Irish Republic Army) is a terrorist group that loves violence for its own sake and took advantage of the situation," fighting between Irish Catholics and Protestants, to inflict violence. " The I.R.A. sends propaganda over to the U.S. which many Irish Americans believe. They send hundreds of thousands of dollars over to the I.R.A." Terry provided inside scoops on life in England and ways it differs from the United States, and on misconceptions. Lesser royalty than the Royal Family such as nobles, lords and ladies, et.al., "are just normal people there, not considered better than anyone else, just regular folks who have titles and are often penniless because their fortunes went into keeping up big castles." "The English educational system's a lot deeper than it appears to be here, it's more comprehensive and intense. The English take education very, very seriously. We're a tough bunch. England just about ruled the world--we went around ransacking especially in India and Africa and had the vast English Empire. We were taught about other countries. There doesn't seem to be that great urgency to learn about other lands, over here. A lot people here are uninformed. I like that you appreciate America here, but it's a shame not to know more about the entire world." Terry said he wishes that marriage was taken more seriously in the U.S. and divorce is far less common and casually undertaken in England. He also noted gun control is practiced in the U.K. with handguns and rifles mostly forbidden. "These weapons are everywhere here." Socialized medicine there can also be viewed as plus. But "the cost of living is doubled, the job market is very tight, a good balance between imports and exports is lacking, taxes are a lot higher," and England must be crowded--"England has 60 million people and North Carolina's got about six million, and England as a unit just about fits in N.C." All in all, concluded Terry, "England is nice to visit but I'd rather have sunshine. And we've enjoyed fantastic hospitality here in the South."