Sunday, May 1, 2011

Why America's Anglophiles Are Missing the Point of the Royal Wedding

Anglophilia, like pornography, is one of those things that are hard to describe but you know when you see them. With the marriage of the vague, amorphous Prince William and the seemingly unemployable Kate Middleton, Anglophilia is on full display all over the world, particularly in the U.S. As two diabolically bland human beings plight their troth, or whatever one does with a troth, Anglophiles from Chappaqua, N.Y., to Redondo Beach, Calif., have a thrilling opportunity to drop to their knees, moisten their tongues, pucker up their lips and grovel before the British upper classes.

Anglophilia is an obsession not with the English per se but with that stratum of them best described as positively smashing. It is characterized by a fixation on the royal family, a fascination with vintage porcelain and a tendency to confuse a drawing-room accent with actual intelligence. [...]

I thought Joe Queenan was missing the point in this essay in Time magazine. His definition of 'Anglophile' was a little too narrow. I'm an unabashed Anglophile for way different reasons than their antediluvian Royal and class system. I like their motorcycles*, which were the world standard at one time. They got popular here after the WWII GIs were exposed to bikes that had great power, cornered like a weasel in a drainpipe, weighed about 300 pounds less than the Harley-Davidsons and Indians they were used to, and they could shift gears without taking one hand off the bars and one foot off the boards, an instability-inducing requirement that can come exactly when you don't need it. Their bikes were drawn with an exceedingly sharp pencil as opposed to a piece of charcoal out of the cave fire like ours. Sadly, they never sharpened the pencil after great initial success.

*My big thrill of the month came just now when I changed the picture on my Classic Triumph Calendar from a 1937 Speed Twin to a 1967 T100C Sports Tiger. Ohhhh...

A final word on Triumph motorcycles: I will never forgive Hitler for one of his greatest atrocities, that of bombing the Coventry Triumph factory flat in November 1940. He destroyed the prototype alternator-equipped machine and stuck us with those goddam generators for another 20 years, the heartless bastard.

The absolute best book about what happened to the Brits in general is What Ever Happened To The British Motorcycle Industry?. Shorter: The inability to read the handwriting on the wall if it wasn't in English, and to pooh-pooh it as jealousy if it was.

To sum up, anyone who can come up with a cockamamie idea like The Great Panjandrum, build it, and actually think it might work is OK with me. The Brits are great engineers but it has been said that they can't build most of what they can draw. But I digress.

Queenan came up with a line that sums the Brits up perfectly:

You have only to be in a room or a marriage with an English person to understand how the English conquered the world; nothing deters them, and you cross them at your peril.

Nothing deters them. No shit. Ignorance, lack of common sense, reality, nothing. We have people like that here too, but the most dangerous man (or woman) in the world at one time was an English cartographer with a ruler and pencil. The stuff those guys arbitrarily/politically committed to paper in the last century is fucking things up all over the world still.

I could go on and on about the Brits, but suffice it to say that the average Joe Six Pint gets along with a lot less of everything than we do and we could learn from that if we weren't spoiled me-first brats.

Queenan irrevocably redeemed himself with the last paragraph of his tongue-in-cheek piece:

My wife had an uncle who was a wing commander in the RAF. He was named after Gordon of Khartoum, who lost his life battling Islamic fundamentalists in the Sudan in 1885. Uncle Gordon, who had helped ease the Nazis off the stage, lost his legs when he was in his 70s. He never complained that life had treated him unfairly; he had the very stiffest of upper lips. Hoping that some of this will rub off on our son, we named him Gordon, after the kind of Englishman that made England great. You won't see many of them at the royal wedding.

Bloody fookin' right, mate! 'Gordon', a truly proud name for distinguished heroes, is an old Gaelic name meaning "he who will be carried home on his shield". I couldn't actually find that reference on any origin-of-name sites, but what do they know anyway?

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