America versus the U.K. is the subject of an article by Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North American Editor since 2014. He is returning to the U.K. after seven years reporting from the United States. In the article, he highlights some of the major events he has covered, and then offers lists of the things he will miss, and the things he will not miss. I found his insight in those lists both personal and penetrating.

     Winston Churchill once described the United States and the United Kingdom as two countries divided by a common language. Amusing, certainly, but as with most of Churchill’s one-liners, insightful and profound. Jon Sopel’s very personal comments are in the same vein.

     Sopel titled the article “The America I give thanks for (as I depart).”

What I’ll miss (not in any order):


National parks and the great outdoors

Skiing in America – so much better organised

Fabulous geographical diversity

Weather reports – so much weather here

Paved cycle trails through stunning countryside

College sport – particularly March Madness basketball competition

Being able to watch all the Premier League football matches you can – even the 3pm kick offs (which you can’t in the UK)

The singing of the national anthem

Burgers and fries

Can do attitudes/innovation


Washington museums and memorials

The device on petrol pump nozzle where it automatically clicks off when tank is full, so you don’t need to keep hand on it (not significant I know)

Epic complexity of Washington politics

Friendliness and kindness

Work ethic

What I won’t miss: (I have the feeling that these are in order!)

Guns – worst bit of my seven years has been going to all the mass shootings

Endless TV ads for prescription drugs promising miracles for first 20 seconds and warning of – in rare cases – catastrophic death in last 20 seconds

Endless political ads during election season that just make you want to live on a desert island

A terrible health system that only works if you have money

Hearing people in front of me at the pharmacy saying they can’t afford the drugs they’ve been prescribed

Seeming lack of interest in what happens in the rest of the world

Restaurants (this is a whole subsection)

– Food that is often too salty or too sweet

You feel you have to tip 20% cos (sic) staff are so badly paid

Ludicrous hierarchy where you can only talk to waiter/waitress allocated to your table, and not get service from anyone else

Also why is the person who pours your water never able to take your food order

– Surf and turf – do one, but not the other

Being asked my opinion endlessly about Charles and Diana/William and Kate/Harry and Meghan – the royal family is an obsession.

     I’m sure there are a multitude of other things that could be mentioned but it is interesting to hear America versus the U.K. from a person who has been on the forefront of reporting news for an extended period.

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