Living as an American in England is, by and large, a pleasant experience. One of the very few things that can make it an unpleasant experience, however, (and I feel very disloyal saying this) is encountering fellow Americans.
I'm not talking about fellow ex-pats. I mean coming into contact with tourists or short-term residents. They sound so loud. They ask such naive questions. They mispronounce everything and don't seem that bothered about it. They wander around Bath in lime green shell suits. Once you've lived here for several years it is easy to forget that that is what Americans are like (at least some of them anyway). I find these encounters so uncomfortable because I can't help but ask myself, 'is that what I'm like?'
I am not alone in having this sensation. The other long-term resident Americans I've met over the years have all said the same thing. Hear another American accent in the room at a party? Time to get your coat. Overhear an American order a coffee in front of you at Starbucks? Time to head to Cafe Nero.
A few weeks ago a male twenty-something, with newscaster hair and wearing a trenchcoat, came into my office and sat with one of my colleagues. His first words were, 'I'm here visiting from America, and....' I didn't hear the rest because I was hiding under my desk. No one wears trenchcoats in America. He was wearing a trenchcoat because that's what Americans think that British people wear (you do in movies a lot, to be fair). He was trying to look native. I couldn't bear to even stay in the room so I crawled out from under the desk and made myself a cup of tea. Hot tea, that is, with milk.
I had a similar experience over the last two days, although on a much larger, much more unavoidable scale. It started with the revelation that Tom Hicks, Jr, sent an email to a Liverpool supporter containing the words, 'Blow me, f***face!' I don't blame Hicks for getting seriously annoyed. The email sent by Steve Horner, although lacking Mr. Hick's profanity, was meant to provoke a reaction. I do blame him for writing something that any half-wit would know was going to get him in serious trouble, and then pressing 'send.' The privileged education his millionaire father has undoubtedly spent on him appears to have been as effective as the average Rafael Benítez signing.
Annoyingly Hicks is not only an American, but as he is from Texas. That makes him a Southerner like me. He should know better. Southerners pride themselves on their manners. They don't swear in public. There is nothing to say a Southerner can't be a brain-dead-lout-who-relies-on-the-nepotism-of-his-tycoon-daddy to get by in life, but he should know to keep it to himself.
Just when I was deciding whether or not to wear a paper bag over my head for the day, the story broke about how Manchester United was now carrying more debt than all of sub-Saharan Africa. Why? Because their American owners, the Glazer family, financed their purchase of the club with huge loans? Yes, that's true, but that's not news. No, the real shocker is that it now appears that the Glazers have been stripping assets from the club. So far, according to an article in the Financial Times excerpted from Pitch Invasion, about £22.9 million. Considering that Man U only made a profit in 2009 thanks to selling players, that's a really brazen act. Some United fans have been fearing the worst ever since the Glazers took over, and now the worst seems to be at hand. United fans have been giving Liverpool supporters a lot of stick this season, but I bet most of them would trade this news for an obscene email from Joel Glazer.
Oh, and where are the Glazers from? Florida. One state down from Georgia. Great.
Although there are now protesters chanting, 'Yanks out!' all over north-west England, I can take some heart in the fact that there are Americans in English football managing not to piss everyone off. Most Villa fans are very happy with Randy Lerner. Stan Kroenke's status as major shareholder of Arsenal doesn't seem to have hurt anyone. By most accounts Andy Appleby is doing rather well at Derby County.
Livepool and Manchester United supporters are going to have some tough days ahead. They are going to have to face up to the fact that their clubs might not be able to outspend the rest of the Premier League for much longer. As they mull over whether or not to stick with a team that might not offer Champions League football each year, they need to realise the problems for their clubs are not a result of having American ownership. The problems result from the previous owners, none of whom were Americans, who sold out to people who didn't give a damn about the club.