Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The British Election for Expats

On the eve of the British general election, there is a delightful piece by Simon Schama in The Guardian. Much of it focuses on the differences between the election seasons in the U.S. and the U.K., and will resonate with any expat reader. Here's a particularly descriptive (and laugh-out-loud funny) paragraph:
"I was a just few hours off the jumbo from Newark, New Jersey, but it felt like dropping down the rabbit hole and emerging into parish pump politics. Compared with the engorged rapture, the fully orchestrated Hollywood production numbers; the serried ranks of Raybanned Secret Service Men; the ululating good 'ole boys, the big-hair hoopla, the bra-popping, pompom waggling cheerleaders, the Spandex highkicks; the tossing ocean of flags; the relentlessly inspirational gospel songs; the banners as big as a wall; the parade of uniforms (any uniform will do - firemen, police, marines, traffic wardens, apartment house doormen); the descending chopper blades; the eventual appearance of the Awaited One to swoons of joy and exultant whoops of messianic acclaim; compared to the whole delirious cornball razzmatazz that passes for democratic politics in the great American empire, Ashford on a bank holiday weekend was utter Ambridge. Thank God. Except he too was mercifully missing from the general election."
The entire piece is punchy, humorous, full of gems like this, and more compact than his "A History of Britain" trilogy. Immediately after the end of the article, there's also a hilarious little ad for a quintessentially British show of defiance
"Time for Operation Nose Peg: hundreds of readers have requested Polly Toynbee's ingenious nose pegs to allow them to vote Labour today while holding their nose. If you are one of them, don't forget to take a picture of yourself at your polling station wearing the nose peg and G2 will publish them after the election. Email or send your pic to G2, The Guardian, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER."
Sometimes I really miss England.
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