Home Page

carol gould

Join our email list for updates.




We hope that you'll feel our website is worthy enough to contribute a few pounds to the bandwidth bills.



I Would Kill for a Philly Soft Pretzel
Last uploaded : Friday 24th Oct 2008 at 01:08
Contributed by : Carol Gould




October 24, 2008

Notwithstanding the fact that I have lived in the United Kingdom for thirty-two years and for a brief time in Israel, there are moments when my homesickness for the United States is unbearable.

One of those moments occurred last week when I accepted an invitation to join two very sweet English ladies for dinner after a church service. We went to a pleasant Italian restaurant and after ordering I asked them whether they thought Palin had ruined McCain’s chances. They looked at me with blank stares. I said ‘Sarah Palin.’ Silence.

Now, the reason why I tell this story is because I have suffered for decades the barbs of British scorn about the general stupidity of Americans, their lack of geographical nowt and their insularity (‘they never buy passports.’)

These two dear ladies, both from working class backgrounds, had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. For a fleeting moment I wanted to fly out of the trattoria, get my passport and jump onto the next aeroplane to my native Philadelphia, where my beloved Phillies were about to be crowned league champions, and where I could walk into any bar, say ‘Palin’ and start a hearty conversation.

Back at the London dinner engagement: I tried in vain to engage my fellow diners in a discussion of the Governor of Alaska and her views on abortion and Creationism but to no avail. One of them asked me if Alaska was part of the USA or Canada. I realised neither woman knew who Sarah Palin was. They also wanted to know ‘who is this Osama chap?’ and if he can run for President if he is a foreign national. Okay, you will say, there is a big Rush-listening crowd out there (Rush Limbaugh, for my British readers) that believes Obama is Pakistani or Nigerian and that I should not get upset about two Britons being uninformed.

I could see that I was going to get nowhere in my naďve attempt to start a debate about whether Palin was being impaled by the media Hillary-style, so I moved on to the story of ‘The Jewel of Medina,’ the novel Random House had cancelled because of objections from Muslim pressure groups. Because my novel, ‘Spitfire Girls’ is being published next year by Random House-Arrow I thought these two ladies would be keen to discuss censorship and the future of this banned book. Though this story had had considerable coverage in the British press -- tabloids included -- neither lady had a clue. After awhile they just sat and stared at me.

Later, back at the church, one of the elders turned to me and bellowed, ‘Well, Americans still can’t speak English, can they?’ I guess I was feeling homesick and miserable and full of pent-up aggression so I really let this poor old coot have it. I reminded him that the average British footballer can barely string three words together whilst his average college-educated American counterpart is highly articulate. I reminded him that even the most cultured British broadcasters have begun to say ‘I was sat there,’ an ubiquitous expression that grates from dawn until dusk in the British media.

I stayed up until 5AM London time last Sunday night to watch my Phillies beat the Dodgers and gain entry to the World Series for the first time in fifteen years. I have tried to get my British friends excited about this but they have no idea what I am talking about, and I only get the usual barb about an American-based baseball tournament ‘having nothing to do with The World.’ I try to point out that a vast array of baseball players hails from Cuba, Japan, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Canada, Mexico and the rest of South and Central America, but this does not work. My British friends cannot understand what on earth I am going on about. My Phils are in the Series! Nobody cares. Nobody to have a beer with.

My intense homesickness, as a monumentally important American election campaign nears its climax and as my home team plays in the iconic World Series, is painful. It reached an all-time high yesterday when a school friend in Philadelphia told me she was going to both Phillies rallies in center-city hosted by the Mayor and by major hoteliers, with free Philly soft pretzels to go. I so wanted to be there but I have to stay abroad because I am too poor to travel (my three British investment plans crashed and my British property won’t sell) ; the reason why I cannot stay mad at the natives is because a group of British friends and neighbours has rustled up enough money for me to get by for a good while. They are good people and I will have to forgive them for not knowing who Sarah Palin is, wondering why I am bleary-eyed watching the World Series or why I would kill to eat a mustard pretzel.

Carol Gould is a Philadelphia-born broadcaster and author based in London. Her book, ‘Don’t Tread on Me -- anti-Americanism Abroad’ is out in the UK and USA in December and her novel, ‘Spitfire Girls’ is out in May 2009. She has appeared on the nationwide BBC News debate ‘Any Questions?,’ on the BBC World Service and on Sky News.


Read more Editorials    go >>



Web Design - Web Designers
© current viewpoint .com

All Rights reserved.
No copying of any text or images allowed in any form digitally or otherwise,
without the prior written consent of the copyright holders.