Being a miserable old sod is what we Brits do better than anyone. Recently, without really noticing, I have begun using Victor Meldrew, Stephanie Cole in Waiting For God, and Father Jack as my role models. I attribute this to several factors: a deficiency of Vitamin D, an impending birthday, the state of the US economy, and an increasing amount of jealousy towards young, fit, wired, connected, trendy people who make me look in the mirror and go "how the hell did that happen?"
The tipping point came on Sunday, after a tense visit to Church. I went because my daughter had been nagging me for a while, and I was kind of proud of her for that. At the same time, I would say that my life has become in many respects based around a lack of faith - in the Church, in Government, in people generally - so I had to do the 'happy act' thing which I don't really enjoy. Still, that's no excuse for spending the rest of the day acting like someone had crapped on my geraniums, so I decided to pull out a comedy DVD to lighten my mood. I selected the first ever episode of Only Fools And Horses, a show universally known by Brits and unknown to everyone else except the most dedicated Anglophiles. It was the kind of show I had not watched in quite a while - there is a reason why, in the US, "British TV" is a genre unto itself - and I was just getting into it when my stepson came upstairs and asked what I was watching.
I will be incredibly honest here and say that it is part of the national character (I think) to be a little embarrassed and sensitive about our own culture, especially when you live in the land of fast-everything, bigger is better, and reality show purgatory. For that reason, I often watch some of my favorite British TV shows by myself. My stepson (who is in his twenties now) normally likes shows like Family Guy, South Park, and The Simpsons. Stuff he grew up with, basically. So I guess, in a moment of snap judgment, I was unsure what he would make of Del-Boy and Rodders, of the Council Flat, of the Nag's Head and all the "ducking and diving", as Del himself would say.
By the end of 30 minutes, however, we had both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I correctly predicted that the "hooky" briefcases were locked from the inside and he predicted that Rodney would not be able to get to Hong Kong. I was explaining words in every other sentence - "khazi", "plonker", "dipstick", "bit of alright" - and in the end it was an enjoyable family moment. And I realized more clearly than ever that we all have our "culture" - parts of our history we are afraid other people will reject, or laugh at. And that's what makes us unique.
Now I have to hunt down some more OFAH episodes on DVD.
Probably the funniest bit of the show ever - the famous bar-fall
Trigger gets a medal