Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Encounters of the Pyjama'd Kind

There are few sights so mesmerisingly arresting as a grown man in pyjamas. And polka-dot pyjamas at that. Such was the vision I was met with while on my morning jaunt around the neighbourhood. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t as though he were in his house or outside his house or anywhere near his house. He seemed, like me, in the midst of a bracing walk in the morning air. Had this happened in England, I should probably have called the police because in all likelihood, this was someone’s Uncle Malcolm who had wandered off while on a family day out. Instead, I exchanged cordial greetings with this man in all his polka-dotted splendour and went on my merry way.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Way We Think Now

Generally speaking, thinking is an activity I try to avoid if I can help it, but every now and then I’ll come across something that really gets the brain cells quivering. My most recent brain-tingler is the book I’m reading, Tickling the English by Irish comedian Dara O’Briain. It’s hilarious. In case you haven’t read it (and I recommend you do), it presents a wittily insightful view of the British from someone who’s not. He asks probing questions like ‘Why do the English pretend to be unhappy all the time?’ and notices things like the fact that we Brits have the worst view of ourselves, even though – surprisingly enough – we’re really not pants at everything.

As far as I know, we’ve always thought of ourselves as losers. And this mentality is ingrained in us from the time we’re tiddlers running around in our underpants. Even at school, I remember my Latin teacher giving us vocab. tests with cheerful titles like ‘England Hasn’t Got a Hope in Hell’ or, a worryingly common one, ‘You’re All Going To Fail.’ No wonder we think we suck. The Americans, however - and as we all know, never think this way. They’re blissfully unaware of the fact that only they think they’re cool! Annoying as this may be for the rest of world, perhaps there’s something in this unshakeable self-belief stuff. Maybe if we start thinking we’re good at something, we might possibly be good. Hmmm...