Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ties that bind - United States/Great Britain Connections

May Ball

George Washington Statue at Trafalgar Square

4th of July celebration 2008

We had always thought that Great Britain and the United States of America were closely bonded because of common ideals and beliefs, but when we came here to live seventeen months ago we really found how closely tied we truly are. I would say it is a little of a love/hate relationship however, they love us, but still resent us a little, also. It is a little of the big brother syndrome. I remember last 4th of July, the Perrys and Ken and I decided to have a barbeque out in our back garden in London. We decorated up the table with red, white, and blue and cooked hamburgers, American style. Our Elders showed up and saw the celebration. One Elder was English and the other was American. The English Elder was Elder Loynes. He asked, "What is the celebration for?" We announced that it was Independence Day. He replied, "Well, we call it Rebellion Day over here."

I think we know more about what is going on in the States than you do there. About 1/2 of the nightly 10:00 PM news here is about what is going on in America. They have a beautiful statue of our first president, George Washington, prominently displayed in Trafalgar Square in downtown London. The first time I saw it I couldn't believe it. It is situated in an area where there are only statues of famous British heroes. They also love President Obama over here and despise George Bush. Europe is much much more liberal than the United States is so they tend to respect the Democratic Presidents that we have had, such as Kennedy, Clinton, and FDR.

There is much more of an American influence here than there was even 5 years ago when I came over to visit my cousins with my sisters, Sheila and Carol. One of the biggest grocery store chains is Asda. It is a subsidiary of WalMart. All of the signs and advertising is the same. The only thing that is different is that WalMart's color over here is green instead of the yellow signs that you see all over in the States. There are McDonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, and Pizza Huts everywhere. They even have begun to serve drinks with ice in them, what a wonderful invention! One day, after we had just been here for a few months, I went into a pub with Leslie Perry and ordered lunch and a Diet Coke. I had not had a Diet Coke for a long time, so I greedily drank it down quickly and asked for a refill. The bartender just looked me in the eye and said kindly, "You're not in the United States anymore."

We have many visitors who come in regularly to the Visitors' Centre who are from the USA. Some are just visiting for a week or two , some are members of the United States Air Force and are stationed here at one of the several bases in this area,some are at BYU London, and many are Americans who have married English citizens and are living here permanently or temporarily. I am constantly amazed at how many of the English have been to the USA. One day we were on a tram going to Wimbledon and a young man looked at us and asked, "Are you one of the 8% of Americans?" We asked what he was talking about and he said that he had heard that only 8% of Americans have passports whereas about 100% of English people have passports. We explained that the US is large enough that many people just spend their time traveling around the US and still never see it all in their lifetime. Our patrons here often ask where we are from in the States. When we say St. George, Utah, the majority will say, "Oh, I've been to Utah." Even a good share of them will say that they have been to St. George. We are constantly amazed at how much traveling they do over here.

Last Saturday, we had a nice outing and a wonderful dinner with Chad Whitehead and his wife, Sarah. Chad works for Ernst and Young over here and they live about 45 minutes from the temple in Cobham. We had a great visit about our son, Britt, and all of the buddies that ran around with Britt and Chad. They used to spend lots of time at our house, eating lots of food and watching tons of ballgames so we grew to love them all. It was a great evening with a very nice St. George connection.

We are always very proud to be Americans. It is the best country ever in the history of the world, I think. We are also forever grateful to belong to His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and to be from the beautiful St. George area where so many of the wonderful friends and family that we love live.

This weekend we are going into London to help the Perrys with the Wandsworth Stake May Ball. We helped put that on last year and it was a huge success because everyone came to see how Americans put on a party and they were duly impressed. This year will be no exception, it will be an American party to remember with great music, food, decorations, and wonderful friends. We are lucky to be part of it again.

Hope all is well there. Many of you have emailed to ask when our Homecoming Talks will be. Bishop Shirts has scheduled that meeting for Sunday, July 12, at 1:00 pm at the downtown Santa Clara Chapel. We are fine and happy here. We think of you often and love hearing from you.