Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

That special relationship

I write articles for a magazine called TIM. I was writing one this afternoon and I used a quote from the Bogart/Bacall film To Have and Have Not. "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow."

Maybe it's just me but I think that quotes from films are a part of everyday conversation. Do you recognise these? "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," "Show me the money!", "May the Force be with you." Maybe you don't but "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

These quotes are all from foreign films. Movies made by Hollywood. They are not British films made at Ealing or Elstree.

The first time I went to the United States I had great difficulty communicating, the difference between scotch and whisky was the first flashpoint but there were others. It was GBS who said, "The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language" but the truth is much of my cultural heritage comes from the United States. From American authors, photographers, music, TV and places. Show me that tower and we're in Seattle, the red coloured bridge is in San Francisco but the black one is in New York. I know who Babe Ruth was and the NYCs and even the New England Patriots. I hum along to US songs and I watch their TV. I even know some US politicians. I am certain that the main reason is that we share a common language, whatever Shaw thought, and even that language is greatly influenced by the US. When I was a boy they were wagons, they are still lorries to me but I understand and use trucks just as I used movies above.

America - I always find it remarkable  that a country was so certain of itself to choose to use the adjective American to call its citizens - is just a part of my life.

It's not quite the same for Spaniards. When they listen to Bogart doing "Of all the gin joints in all the world" the voice is José Guardiola and it was Constantino Romero who took the voice for Rutger Hauer in the death scene from Bladerunner: "I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe... Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion." It's not the same, it's not as strong. The influence of the States just isn't as strong for Spaniards as it is for me and presumably for other Britons.

So I understand that Spaniards don't know about British things like Sheperd's Pie or making tea properly but I'm consistently surprised that Americn authors or TV shows don't figure much in their lives either. I just presumed that the United States was everywhere by giving us all baseball caps, Google and McDonalds but maybe I misunderstood that language was maybe just as powerful in blocking those things.

The first time that Churchill stressed the special realtionship was in the "Iron Curtain Speech" in Fulton Missouri in 1946. "I come to the crux of what I have travelled here to say. Neither the sure prevention of war, nor the continuous rise of world organization will be gained without what I have called the fraternal association of the English-speaking peoples. This means a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States."

So you see even Winnie agrees with me about the language.

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