I’ve been meaning to post here at TNB for a while now. Today seems like as good a days as any… it’s not like it’s a public holiday or anything. It’s actually one of those rare days in the calendar where absolutely nothing of historical interest has ever happened in all the thousands of years of human existence… Well, there was that trivial little incident in 1776, but I’ve bored you enough with the history of cricket.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been drafting various posts on a range of topics. I never got around to finishing any of them because I was too busy being awesome at L.A. Noire and going to a cricket match. Seriously— this isn’t one of those jokes where I make fun of how English I am; I actually went to a cricket match. It rained, England won, and there was a ‘Tea Bar’ inside the ground. It was utterly spiffing.

I was going to write a long post about a play that I wrote, directed, and delivered a tour de force performance in a three minute cameo. But now it’s being staged again at a bigger theatre later in the year so I’m saving it for that.

Then I was going to write about how I quit Facebook and consequently became a better person. However that’s a subject that’s been pretty well covered recently, and far more intelligently than I could hope to be.

I even considered writing a lame emotional piece that would have been undercut with funny set pieces that would make it sort of like Bridget Jones’ Diary but with an actual English person and not a pretend English person with an American accent and the most French name anyone has outside of France/half of Canada.

But then I decided today would the perfect day for me to write an essay on all the things that make Britain great. I know most of you reading will be American and may find excessive displays of patriotism somewhat distasteful and unseemly. I can only apologize in advance, and include a link to the song Danger Zone for you to listen to if it all gets too British for you.

It’s not that I don’t love America. I love cheeseburgers, and I think my appreciation for Die Hard has been well documented. I’ve been to America and met many Americans, and I loved every moment and every person. I’ve been to Canada and even though we own it, it’s not nearly as nice. Everyone in Montreal is surly because they’re secretly French and the people of Toronto just haven’t been the same since Rush left.

I don’t have a bad word to say about America, or any of the Americans I’ve met. Of course I didn’t meet anyone like Charles Manson, Sarah Palin, Richard Nixon, or the new crazy Republican lady who should get Ted Turner to run as her VP candidate and use both Takin’ Care of Business and You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet as campaign songs. As far as I’m aware ‘70s rock musicians love it when right wing politicians appropriate their songs.

I genuinely love America, and I’m not just saying that because it’s your birthday either. Britain loves America like the accidentally conceived child it is. It’s okay, you might have been an accident, but at least you’re not adopted… like Canada…

Sure you could argue about historical facts and the cultural intricacies and immigration from other nations, but ultimately just as Davros created the Daleks, Britain created the nation of America… but in a good way. I’m not looking for thanks here. Casting Alan Rickman is Die Hard was all the thanks we could hope for.

I’m something of a history enthusiast, and one of my favourite historical events is the formation of an independent America…

Once upon a time we discovered America and then proceeded to populate it with potato starved Irishmen, the poor, the persecuted religious, and a couple of rich people to make sure no-one got out of hand. Unfortunately the horrible warmongering, America-hating French soon turned up and tried to kill all the Americans. Luckily Britain courageously fought the dirty French back so that all they had left was the shit half of Canada whilst we kept the half with Neil Young (and started spreading rumours that Chad Kroeger is actually from Montreal).

Britain and America then lived in peaceful co-existence where we agreed on everything from how awesome tea is, to how much tea should be taxed. Then one fateful day a shipment of tea disappeared from Boston harbour. The British were so impressed by the anger and frustration of the Americans reaction to this great loss that we decided you were finally ready to break out on your own. Shortly after that Britain gladly handed the USA independence.

But whilst you slowly developed into a mightily impressive nation, Britain is still superior for these four reasons:

1. Tea

Sure coffee looks cool. It sounds cool. It even tastes pretty good, and many, many diner scenes in movies and TV shows would lose a certain something if the waitress was pouring tea out of a dainty little teapot, but tea is still better.

For final proof, people often use ‘all the tea in china’ as an example of excessive reward that would still be too small to tempt them. There is no equivalent for coffee, because it’s not as good, and no-one actually knows where it comes from.

2. Action Heroes/Acting

American culture is littered with action heroes from the various ranch hands played by John Wayne to the sensitive amnesiac Jason Bourne. Between those two icons you’ve had John McClane, Johnny Utah, John Rambo, Chuck Norris, and the many roles of Arnold Schwarzenegger. A lot of them feature in pretty decent films. I love both Die Hard and Point Break.

In Britain we only have one action hero. We only need one action hero. We got the violence/sex/horrendous pun formula right the first time. Who wants to see Bruce Willis shouting obscenities in bare feet and shooting vaguely German terrorist when you can watch a fifty year old Roger Moore flapping his saggy jowls over the body of a twenty year old and making crude sex jokes?!

No American has ever played Bond. Meanwhile the three best known American comic book characters are all played by Brits because we’re all better actors than you. Yes, even Keira Knightley.

3. Colonization/War

We had an Empire. Despite our aesthetically displeasing dentistry we still managed to get our hands on most of the world and mercilessly exploit the local populations.

You can try and claim the two World Wars, but that’s like when you’re trying to open a jar, five people give it a go and then the sixth personally finally manages and takes all the credit and makes hundreds of movies about how great he is at opening jars. We were loosening those jars for a long time before you showed up.

The only war you ever won was against yourself. The War of Independence doesn’t count because it didn’t actually happen. Any evidence to the contrary is simply photoshopping and hearsay.

4. History

We Brits have history. America is part of our history. A fairly brief and unimportant part too, hundreds and hundreds of years after our Roman ancestry and walls to keep the Scots out.

The most important parts of American history aren’t even taught in our schools. I only know about it because I studied it a bit at university and read up on these things purely so I can make jokes about not being interested in the information I’ve researched.

Seriously though, it’s just sort of glossed over. Sometimes a teacher might tell the story about the shipment of tea failing to arrive if a student asks, but mostly we’re too busy learning about our rich cultural heritage, drinking tea, and dashing outside to play cricket during the brief periods when it stops raining.

So there you have it; indisputable scientific proof that my country is better than yours. Huzzah for Blighty! Let’s all celebrate with tea and scones! Spiffing!

I could have come up posting today and been very bitter. But today shouldn’t be about bitterness, it should be about celebration. I prefer making tea with tap water rather than sea water but… whatever… enjoy your cawfee…

But seriously, Happy 235th Birthday America— you’re looking good for it.

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James D. Irwin is a British writer based in the Hampshire countryside. His work has appeared online, in print, and on stage. He can be contacted at [email protected]

62 responses to “The British are Posting”

  1. Jolly well first! Everything in this article is correct. Actually I haven’t read it yet, but I will do so forthwith, post-haste etc.

  2. I really like Canada. Otherwise I fully endorse this article. Although there’s always Jason Statham.

    • I really like Canada too. An earlier draft had a postscript which apologized and retracted most of what I said.

      But the it isn’t funny anymore.

      I stayed in a hotel in Toronto. It was so cool. Their drinking age was the same as ours so I could order beers from room service. And buffalo wings. And obviously Rush are awesome. I was listening to Rush the whole time I was writing this…

  3. Amber says:

    Far and away the most accurate telling of America’s independence I have ever read. I have never been so proud of my English ancestry. I want to go colonize something right this very moment.

    *drinks tea while fireworks explode in background*

    • you should. It’s really quite easy. We built an Empire and we’re only the size of a small American city. And we have bad teeth.

      Between the two of us I bet we could take one of those small islands in the Pacific over a long weekend. It’d be fun. I’ll bring a picnic.

      I really like fireworks, but only when they’re done well. Otherwise they’re just really annoying.

    • Gloria says:

      I’m so hoping “I want to go colonize something right this very moment” is a sexual euphemism.

  4. Matt says:


    Wolverine is played by an Australian. Who by all reports is a nice guy, but might still bridle at being called a Brit.

    Otherwise, you’re spot on! Now, to brew some Twinnings-brand Earl Grey, after which I shall throw the remainder into the harbor.

    • I was referring to Spiderman, Batman, and Superman… I tend not to think of Wolverine as an individual superhero. Although when I was a kid I probably wanted to be Wolverine more than any other comic book character.

      The Tea Bar at the cricket was run by Twinings. They do good work.

      • Matt says:

        Andrew Garfield is a good actor, but Tobey Maguire is too resolutely imprinted as Spider-man in most people’s minds, I think.

        • I’m not happy about their being a new Spiderman. Or even British actors playing iconically American roles. I’ve seen a few photographs of the filming of the new Spiderman and it looks kind of like the weird TV version, which might have been Japanese. And it’s not filmed in New York, which is just stupid.

          Bale is okay as Batman, but only because nobody would know he was British if people did make such a ridiculously big deal about how omg-didjaknow-he’s-really-British?!

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      I was going to bring up the Hugh Jackman thing, too!

  5. Amber says:

    oh, it is, gloria, it is. mmmmm, euphemism… *cue sexy background music*

    i have this urge to run in to the bedroom and shout to nathaniel, “i am here to colonize you in the name of england! huzzah!”

    irwin, let’s take over a medium sized island. i want enough room to bring all of my american accouterments.

  6. Don Mitchell says:

    What about the painting yourselves blue and worshiping trees? Eh what?

    Not to mention the English Disease which, according to the French, you gave us.

    Then there’s your brazen theft of “football.” Not much is lower than that.

    On the upside, you did save Hawai’i from the French, and were duly rewarded with space on the Hawaiian flag. So that’s good, but it doesn’t make up for the rest.

    Perfidious Albion!

    • Matt says:

      Damned Redcoats!

    • I’m pretty sure your version of football, or as you Americans seem to call it, FOOOOOTBALLLLLLL is ripped off from rugby. Although I like both versions.

      Britain is so readily forgiven for all the bad things we’ve done because we have repeatedly saved almost every nation on Earth from the French at some point.

      And seriously, who are you going to believe? Us or the French?! Even children know what you should enver trust a Frenchman.

  7. Zara (just like the princess) Potts says:

    God help poor New Zealand if you ever choose to do a history lesson on us.
    However, I saw the other day that Australia is replacing the word -‘Colonists’ with ‘Invaders.’
    Bloody empire.
    The only good thing about England is ‘Jerusalem’, Prince Phillip and HP sauce.
    Love from,
    The Colonies.

  8. Laura says:

    ” I was too busy being awesome at L.A. Noire”


    I take credit for telling you about this game before anyone else did…that must make up for all the other things your countrymen did before my countrymen…(Although I’m from New Mexico, so my countrymen were Spanish and Native American before the Brits even landed on the shores of America.)

    Thanks for saying Happy Birthday my friend…I know you love us more than you let on.

    • I completed the game in three massive sessions. I pretty much never play video games at all. Seriously. I play my housemates at FIFA, but apart from that nothing else. It’s the only game I’ve ever completed. I was going for it in sessions of six hours+ at a time. I’m kind of ashamed of myself for it because I did play until 7am once. It was like a virtual page turner though.

      You did tell me about it first. It turned out my brother had it pre-ordered at the time. I thought about you whilst I was driving. Badly. But I did work out who a serial killer was about a third of the way through.

      I did have a postscript full of sincerity, but it undermined the joke so I ditched it. I do love America though. You’re all awesome. You know that.

      • Laura says:

        That is so great, Irwin, that you loved the game that much. My son, Bryce had a similar obsession and found that if he let his “partner” drive, he could thrive at solving crimes in half the time. I think he also played it non-stop without sleep ’til all was solved….*crazy gamers*

        You and yours are awesome too. I think I’ve told you about my and my family’s affinity with anything British. Both my kids would speak with a psuedo-British accent if they thought they could get away with it and not look like silly Madonna-like posers.

        • I tried to speed things up by not using the breaks. I totalled at least one car a case, but towards the end I was a highly skilled maniac driver who rarely crashed/endangered the lives of citizens.

          You have. I believe I’ve heard a brief and impressive example. British accents are the best kind. Obviously.

  9. angela says:

    Haha, fun piece! I agree with everything except that coffee kicks tea’s ass. Tea has never given me the same caffeine high that coffee does. Then again, I’ve mostly been ingesting terrible American tea.

    Oh, and the sandwiches in London are better. At least the Pret a Manger sandwiches. And that there is free wifi in McDonald’s totally kicks ass.

    Now I’m hungry.

    • I’m pretty conflicted on the tea v coffee issue. I really, really, really like coffee. I like it black with a lot of sugar. It does the trick in the morning… but then I feel bad for not having tea.

      Point 4 was going to be about sandwiches. A good deli sandwich really raises the bar on our humble invention.

      I’m hungry now as well.

      • Laura says:

        Yet, there is just something very comforting about sitting down for a spot of tea. And, God, Yes! You have the best scones! What is that amazing cream you eat on them….I would move there for that cream alone!!!! *drool*

        • Laura says:

          Oh I remember…clotted cream. YUMMM!

        • James D. Irwin says:

          oh man, that cream is just the best. But so amazingly bad for you. I haven’t had any for a long time now. I kind of wish I had some.

          It’s just the thickness of the stuff…

  10. Nice one, James. Tea was definitely one of my favorite things about England. Couldn’t get enough of it. Hope you’re well.

  11. I was supposed to be getting my green card next year, but after reading this I think I’ll not bother.

    Oh, and you forgot to mention the language. No, I don’t mean dropping ‘u’s and throwing in ‘z’s (which, honestly, I think is an improvement of English), but rather the phrases “could care less” and “hold down the fort”. Fuck that. That’s worthy of revoking their independence and grounding them for a few years until they do their goddamn homework.

    • Feck, I spelled my name wrong. It’s supposed to be “Willsington”.

      • James D. Irwin says:

        ‘Willsingson’ sounds like an area of Asia you’ve claimed as your own territory.

        It also sounds like ‘Will sing song.’

    • James D. Irwin says:

      I plan on getting a greencard by visiting the US on a temporary visa, tricking a blind girl into thinking I’m a wealthy, handsome British prince and marrying her quickly. It might be tricky to fool the authorities for a while, but who’s going to deny a blind girl happiness? Not even Nixon would do that…

      It makes sense to drop the useless extra vowels. I like that. I don’t think we can really have a go at certain wanky phrases though. Only idiots tend to use them anyway AND if you’ve ever watched the British Apprentice you’ll know that certain sections of our society are full of infuriating bullshit phrases too.

  12. Tawni Freeland says:

    Oh, James. This is all very entertaining. And I couldn’t agree more about the glory of tea. In my cabinet at present, I have white tea, green tea, rooibos, lapsang souchong, and Twinings Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast, and English Breakfast. (Is Twinings English Breakfast Tea just labeled “Twinings Breakfast Tea” there?) I would give up coffee before tea, and I really love coffee. Unsurprisingly, dating a Brit for a year was what got me hooked on daily tea. It was an occasional thing before that. Tea time rocks. I love the ritual of taking a few minutes to relax in the middle of the day to ingest the caffeine that will see you through the rest of it. Brilliant.

    “I know most of you reading will be American and may find excessive displays of patriotism somewhat distasteful and unseemly.”

    Hahahahahaha. If only. Then I wouldn’t have dark circles under my eyes into which you could tuck a pair of the Queen’s best white gloves. (:

    Well done, sir. Love it.


    • English Breakfast is English Breakfast over here. It’s more than a breakfast tea. It’s an English breakfast tea. It’s actually my favourite type of tea, and the fanciest tea I’m willing to drink.

      The process of making tea is brilliant. It’s also quite boring. There’s not a lot you can do whilst making it other than have a quiet think. Or listen to the radio for a few minutes…

      I was quite pleased with that line, thank you.

      Hope the fireworks weren’t too bad…

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Oh, Tawni. There’s a company here in Portland called Stash Tea – you can get Double Bergamot Earl Grey Black Tea. Double bergamot, Tawni. The stuff is amazing. I have some in my cabinet right now.

  13. I will gladly celebrate with tea and scones, Irwin, and raise my cup to you with my pinky finger out. (Does that really happen outside of Jane Austen films?) Also, I’d like to say that *clotted* cream is the most disgusting name ever for such a delicious food. Oh! And I have to agree with you about British actors. True, true.

    • I’m not really sure. Generally we don’t drink from dainty little tea cups. Sorry to ruin the illusion, but as you can see from my author photo it is a very British mug… and whenever I have tea in tea rooms (for real).

      You’ve been to Winchester so you probably know this, but Jane Austen is buried here. My friends and I once devised a plan to dig her up— just for hypothetical purposes, of course.

      Clotted cream is a weird name. I’m tempted to buy clotted cream ice cream that I’ve seen in a few shops. I bet that’s some good ice cream!

      I was only half joking about the acting. Although I’m struggling to think of a really good contemporary American film star that isn’t Johnny Depp…

      • That was the whole reason I went to Winchester, actually. And Chawton. They did serve us our tea in tiny tea cups in Chawton … but that was probably because of Jane Austen having lived there. I’m so glad you didn’t dig her up. Because I’d like for you to wait for me to help out with that next time I visit. Do you hear me? NO digging up Jane without me.

        • That’s a long way to go for a writer who died… Pretty much everywhere in England will have tiny cups unless it’s an American coffee chain or takeout. They just get smaller and daintier depending on local historic/cultural significance.

          Okay… but you have to bring the knockout gas…

  14. Anika says:

    “Britain loves America like the accidentally conceived child it is. It’s okay, you might have been an accident, but at least you’re not adopted… like Canada…”

    Brilliant. I laughed so hard, the Twinings I was sipping on nearly shot out of my nose.
    It was English Breakfast blend, in case you wanted to know. Although my favorite (pardon me, “favourite”) blend will always be Earl Gray. The name sounds so much more…I don’t know…English (even if the other blend actually has “English” in the name). And therefore, in my mind, it’s more romantic. Go figure.

    Keep up the great posts, James.

  15. Laughed?! That wasn’t a joke! I was deadly serious!

    No, I was joking, of course. Thank you. And I’m always interested to know if people are drinking tea. I assumed you were an English person until I saw your initial spelling of ‘favourite.’

    Earl Grey does sound ridiculous English. One of the worst things I’ve ever seen is a former friend of mine pour an excessive amount of milk into a cup of Earl Grey until it was almost white. (That’s not why he’s a former friend, but it should be.)

    As I said to someone earlier though Twinings English Breakfast is my favoured tea.

    • Anika says:

      A lot of people assume I’m English…but only because I suffer from an intense case of Anglophilia. And, just as you did, they only realize that I’m American because I have yet to switch over to English spellings. My accent also gives it away fairly quickly.
      My grandmother (who very much liked to emphasize her English heritage by watching reruns of “Keeping Up Appearances”) instilled a deep love of tea in me. And while she always had Twinings in the cupboard, I usually ended up sipping on some Bigelow Orange and Spice.
      That has to be sacrilegious, right?

      • I can only endorse Anglophilia. It always nice visiting America when someone gets ridiculously excited about me being English. I mean that doesn’t really happen at home. Everyone sounds English (although I have a properly British accent…)

        Wow. Keeping up Appearances is horrible. Brilliant, but horrible. Very English. Incidentally it’s horrible because it’s a pitch-perfect satire of the worst aspirations of the middle class. The woman in that sort of reminds me of my Nan.

        I don’t know what Bigelow Orange and Spice is, but I’m almost certain it’s not as good as tea. I think it’s okay as long as you’re not in Britain, or plain sight. That would cause problems. We had to hang an Australian tourist recently who was heard asking for Vimto in the cafe adjacent to Wordsworth’s cottage…

        • Anika says:

          I assumed you’d fully endorse Anglophilia.
          “Keeping Up Appearances” also makes me think of my grandma–mainly because I know she found a kindred spirit in Hyacinth Bucket (“it’s pronounced Bouquet”). She was a woman of high class who just happened to marry a middle-class hillbilly and procreate. If she could have found a more pretentious way to pronounce “Nelson,” I’m sure she would have.
          To put your mind at ease, Bigelow Orange and Spice is a blend of tea. Quite good, actually.

  16. Gloria Harrison says:

    It’s okay, you might have been an accident, but at least you’re not adopted… like Canada…


    You make a fine point with the tea thing.

  17. Kaytea says:

    Let’s face it..tea had become tired, staid, conservative..symbol of repression and most things colonial. Enter diners and unlimited cawfee refills, serviced by waitresses in americanised cafe attire. Beats pouring your own tea, and packs a caffine punch! Not content with being delegated to the sidelines, the Brits reinvented the ‘look’ of tea using the greatest marketing tool known to man..sex. Enter twinnings comercials and Nigela Lawson. Take that yanks! I’ll have my tea served elegantly with clipped accent, voluptuous curves and equal amounts of scones and cream (a dash of brandy or whatever other alcoholic beverage is available, thanks Nigela). Keep calm and carry on!

  18. sheree says:

    I were here. Sorry it took so long to get over here and read your post. Good stuff. Trust all is well in your world.

  19. Anonymous man says:

    This is a load of ninny shit, you are everything that’s wrong with comedy and even the stuff that isn’t funny is just offensive (remotely justifying colonialism makes you a poor person). This type of thing is reserved for those David Mitchel or John Cleese style rants on ‘proper pronunciation’ or ‘the open letter revoking americans independence’, which are painfully dull. Please stick to writing more serious stuff, you are much much better at it.

    • James D. irwin says:

      Which parts did you find offensive?

      There isn’t anything in this piece that is meant to be taken at all seriously. Most of the readers got the joke, and found it funny.

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