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
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.