Tag Archives: british

Consider the Source

I’m a British news convert.  I’ve always read the news, whether in print format or online – but I’ve noticed a difference in presentation, so I tend to stick to British sources now, rather than US papers and websites.  I suppose that’s partly due to my location, but in this digital age there’s nothing stopping me from clicking over to CNN more often or even Fox (sure, that’ll happen).  Televised British news seems so much less sensationalist and so much more impartial – It’s still more about the News and less about vicarious horror-tainment or getting your Five-Minute-Hate going.  If I wanted that I’d read Stephen King or George Orwell.  The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is my personal preference if I’m on the net or if I’m watching the Evening News.  But I think even ITV and Channel 4 are reasonably impartial in their reporting.

I remember when I first moved to the UK, how I was struck by the absence of a constant single-story feeding frenzy.  In the US, if there’s a huge news story, it’ll be televised on all the channels, most of the time, regurgitated and re-analyzed, ad nauseam, until the public is thoroughly desensitized to the original, often tragic, event.  I have not seen this happen in the UK since I’ve lived here, and certainly hope that this abstinence from repetition continues.

Most Americans are familiar with the BBC, or the Beeb, as it’s sometimes fondly called.  But they may not be as familiar with British newspapers – I wasn’t before I moved to the UK.  So I’ve decided to post a run-down of the major British newspapers and tabloids.  This list is not at all exhaustive.  I’m sure I’ll offend the Scots and Welsh and Irish among you by completely omitting your regional papers.  Not to mention the Northerners who might read the Manchester Evening News.  But I know even less about these publications than I do about the ones I’ve listed below… and the list was getting way too long anyway!  How much do you expect me to write on this topic?!

There are also a plethora of local newspapers in Britain, some of which have been around a very long time.  These can be invaluable for local historians and genealogists.  Usually, local libraries hold copies of these on microfilm.  Yet another reason it’s important for libraries to remain open.

In the UK it is customary to pay a visit to your local Newsagent to buy a newspaper, along with your Jelly Babies, and Yorkie and Dairy Milk bars.  If you want a paper delivered to your door, you’d also go through the neighbourhood Newsagent, who’d take care of the daily delivery.  I am told that this service is becoming more rare – which maybe doesn’t bode well for the newspaper business.  People are lazy.  If they don’t have papers delivered to their doors, they will use the internet and television to get their news.  Heck, I do.  On the up side, I never get pestered to take out newspaper subscriptions, like I did in the States.

Again, I’m going to focus on major newspapers and Tabloids here – ones available in print – not just online.  And I’ll avoid mention of glossies/magazines, such as the venerable Economist.  Oops – I just did.  Print media has had a tough time all over in the last several years, but is still hanging on in the UK.  Newspapers and tabloids are National Institutions – like so many other things in Britain.  The British seem to love their scandals and rows, which give the papers plenty to be outraged about.

Of course every source has its own angle and political leanings.  Using immigration as an example, here is my take on what those leanings might be:

The Guardian: Immigrants have rights, and here is all the data supporting that, so that you can intelligently decide that Polish builders and people of colour are probably no threat to you, and we can all live in harmony in this Great multicultural nation.

The Times: Immigration policy should change; the government does its best to make sure this is an equal-opportunity country for all, but it’s a crowded little island and people should stop coming here.  We have faith that a cooler head will prevail; but we would prefer it if the Cool Head were a Conservative.

The Financial Times: Immigrants are probably detrimental to the country’s economy; or maybe they’re more profitable than we think.  We will analyse and editorialize this for you on pink paper.

The Telegraph: We are benevolent towards the immigrants who bring valuable services to our country.  But enough’s enough.  Now we should consider immigration quotas and maybe the immigrants already here should all go home.  Perhaps we can deport them.

The Independent: All this talk about immigrants taking your jobs is scare-mongering.  Immigrants bring money and skills, and are not responsible for all the terrible stuff for which they’re blamed.  Still, immigration reform is an important issue.

The Evening Standard: We will tell you that immigrants might be taking your jobs, and do it in a cost-free, London-cenric way.

The Daily Mail: We will all be murdered in our beds, and it will most likely be an immigrant who wields the cleaver.  Furthermore, government incompetence is responsible for this butchery.

The Daily Express: Immigrants are taking your jobs, many of them are Muslim, and it is the EU’s fault.  Foreigners generally shouldn’t be trusted anyway.

The Metro: Here’s a story about an immigrant who saved a pedestrian who was about to be run over.  But we know you don’t have much time to read it, because you’re using public transport, so we’ll keep it short.

The Daily Mirror: It is possible that immigrants are taking your jobs, but Labour leadership will do better than the Tories at preventing this.  Anyway, wouldn’t you rather read about footballers and celebrities?

The Daily Star: Immigrants are taking your jobs, but to console you, here are some naked girls in full colour!

The Sun: Immigrants are taking your jobs, but more importantly, there’s a girl with big tits on Page Three!

It can be both fun and educational to read from a source that’s different to what you might be used to.  We have the advantage of speaking a language that is used all over the world to relay a myriad of opinions and ideas.  Why just read or listen to American (or insert any other nationality here) news?  Isn’t that a bit ethnocentric or nationalistic?  Or at times even xenophobic?



Filed under News and Media

A Voyage of Discovery

There are so many things I didn’t know about the UK when I moved here.  Previous to my leap of faith across the pond, I actually thought I knew quite a bit – I mean how hard could it be?  I spoke the same language (of a sort), and I had watched Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, so I assumed that I had sufficient exposure to the British culture via the media.  I was to discover almost immediately how very wrong I was, and how vast the cultural differences could be.

I had only visited England twice before moving to the Southern Counties, so I wouldn’t say I had had a great deal of contact with the British people.  My perspective may be somewhat unique – but not entirely so; there are quite a few American expatriates in Great Britain.  Primarily, I would say, we live in pockets around RAF bases, where American Airmen are stationed, and, of course, in London and the larger cities.  I have only ever met two other Americans who live in my area.  One, I have never seen again, and the other I see semi-regularly because she and her British husband visit my workplace on a routine basis.

These are a few things, in no particular order, I knew nothing – or next to nothing – about when I moved to Great Britain:

  • Coronation Street and British Soap Operas
  • Television and the TV Licence
  • The National Health Service (NHS)
  • The West Country
  • The Class System
  • The British Demeanour
  • The Lake District
  • Holidays and Little Britain
  • Football
  • Rip Off Britain
  • Music and Radio
  • Pubs
  • Ale and Cider
  • Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Crime and the Kray Brothers
  • Four Countries Within a Country
  • Walking and Rights of Way
  • The Immigration Backlash
  • British Politics
  • The European Union
  • Carry On Films
  • British Slang and Expressions
  • British Regional Accents
  • The Pantomime
  • Christmas Celebrations
  • British History
  • The British Perspective on the Two World Wars
  • Allotments and Gardening
  • British Scientists and Science
  • Perspectives on Pets and Animals
  • British Sexism
  • Hobbies
  • Property and Holiday Homes
  • The British Plumbing and Central Heating Systems
  • British Newspapers and Tabloids
  • The British Education System
  • British Cuisine
  • Public Transportation

I daresay that this list is shorter than it could be, but it will take me quite some time to exhaust these topics.

I think many Americans are under the impression that they know more about Britain and the British than they really do.  The same could be said about what the British think they know about America and Americans.  My own ignorance has stunned me over the years, but I have been stunned in equal measure by the ignorance of the British people regarding the country and people of my birth.  Of course, I’m generalizing here.  I don’t like to tar everyone with the same brush, but for clarity’s sake, I will.

I cringe nearly every day at the things I hear about Americans as expressed by the British public at large, as well as in news items, and on television.  Some of these statements are grounded in anti-American sentiment, and some are born of pure ignorance, and others are even well-meant blurts.  I once was asked, “Is America as bad as everyone says it is?”  Examples like this are too delicious to pass up.  After suppressing my horror and internalizing a strong guffaw, I responded diplomatically by answering the question with a question.  “To what exactly are you referring?  Politics, crime?  You’ll have to be a little more specific.”  I have also been asked whether Canada is a part of America.  I will let the Canadians and Americans out there sort through their North American Continental minutiae and draw their own conclusions.

I may be chastised and corrected by my dear readers who are of British origin as I write about these topics, and more.  Please rein in your desire to whip out a great red pen and slash my text to bits.  It will ruin your screen if you do so.  Accuracy is important, so you are free, of course, to comment on any factual errors you perceive, and also to disagree with my point of view, but please use a degree of respect.  That goes for you Americans out there and nationals of other countries too.


Filed under Prologue

A California Yankee in Queen Elizabeth’s Crib

This is yet another blog written by an expat living in a country that usually displays its various wonders either smack-down-style or burbling-stream-aaaaah style.  Or perhaps most of the time with neither of these styles.  I get confused, since the British culture is sometimes challenging.  Although the title of this blog insinuates that I will lie about everything I write here, I may just be generous with the truth at times.  And I will certainly dollop extra helpings of facts on top.

Let me make something very clear.  This blog is in no way related to the song of the same title.  You may like Skyclad.  And you may have even stumbled across this blog by mistake.  I wish you and the band well and wave you on your way to where your musical tastes will be better satisfied.

For those of you who are not here in error: welcome.  I can only hope to keep you entertained for a brief moment, when you probably should be doing something much more productive.

Now then.  Are you sitting comfortably?  Then let the lies begin.

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Filed under Prologue