It’s an oft-shared observation that Americans aren’t ones to hide their light under a collective bushel. Indeed, while there are plenty of people willing to hold their light high for all to see, it’s arguable that there’s long been some kind of national bushel shortage in America (almost certainly prompted by the Truman government’s decision to raise bushel taxes to punitive levels in 1952). Put simply, if an American is good at something, they won’t be afraid to tell you (as well as the 73 people standing within a 400 metre radius).
America loves winning, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. It just takes a little getting used to when you come from a country that revels in the exploits of renowned losers such as Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, and regularly turns on its most successful sons and daughters as soon as they achieve long-sought-after success. Let the world know about your victories in America and you’re a hero; tell a Brit that you won a competition in Whizzer & Chips, and you’re arrogant or full of yourself. American immigration officials should seriously consider issuing all UK citizens with their own trumpet to blow, for use immediately upon entry to the United States.
Of course, if you’re going to say that you’re the greatest at anything, then you’ve really got to live up to the tag. And to be fair, many Americans are more than capable of doing exactly that – Muhammad Ali being a particularly fine example. The flipside is that if you start boasting that you’re going to whip somebody’s
arseass and fail to do so, you have to be prepared to endure a certain amount of schadenfreude. Yes Mary Decker Slaney, I’m thinking of you and your unfortunate meeting with Zola Budd’s foot in Los Angeles in 1984…
Fortunately, as I’m not the greatest at anything in particular, I’ve got precious little to live up to myself. Although I did once win a wheelbarrow race on school sports day. My ‘barrowing partner was Phil Collins. Genesis must have had a break in their touring schedule that day.
But it seems that I can now achieve greatness by association, as – according to a few references that I’ve seen over the last few days – I apparently live in The Greatest City On Earth.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love New York City. I’ve been coming here for fourteen years, and after London and Chester, it’s probably the city I’ve spent most time in during my life. But clearly I missed The Greatest City On Earth competition when all the nations of the world gathered round for a democratic vote and declared my adopted home the premier location on the planet. The good folks of Basildon must have been gutted to have narrowly missed out.
A Google search on “the greatest city on Earth” throws up Paris, Buenos Aires, Detroit, Chicago, and indeed New York, as possible locations for the greatest city on Earth, so clearly the title’s still under dispute. Whether or not New York really is the greatest isn’t particularly important. But you can’t help but admire the sheer cohones of city residents for seizing the tagline as their own, rather than waiting for anyone to bestow it upon them.
I’m going to start calling this site The Greatest Blog About US-UK Cultural Differences Written By A 6ft 2in Bloke From Chester. It may actually only be in the top five in this admittedly narrow category, but if I say it enough, it might even stick.