5 Reasons why the British should celebrate 4th July – Redux

Come on, let's celebrate together

Come on, let’s celebrate together

I love America. I have close family living in Colorado and California, many old work friends in the Pittsburgh area and whenever I have visited the US I have never been treated with anything other than complete kindness and respect. As you may know, tomorrow is Independence Day in the USA, a day in which our cousins across the pond celebrate the founding of their nation by drinking beer, letting off fireworks, having barbecues and watching sports. It is a time where people think of family, freedom and the american way.

It is also a day of some awkwardness for us Brits. You see, we don’t know what to do. We try to remain unfailingly polite but in the back of our minds we know that what is being celebrated is the humiliation of our forebears. It doesn’t help that whenever I have a conversation with American friends about Independence day, it usually goes one of two ways:

Conversation no.1: We kicked your ass!

Conversation no.2: Do the British celebrate Independence Day too?

Of course, the answers to these points should be 1: You did, and 2: Have a little think about that (see conversation no.1). The thing is, I believe the British should celebrate Independence Day. Not because of the potential for an extra day off work but because there are strong reasons why losing the american war of independence was good for us too.

English: Thomas Paine statue, Thetford, UK

English: Thomas Paine statue, Thetford, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1: It was our idea

This will come as some surprise to many people (especially in the UK), but one of the strongest advocates for an independent USA was Thomas Paine, born in Thetford, England. In 1776, Thomas Paine had only been in the US two years when he wrote the book, “Common Sense”. It was one of the first books advocating colonial America’s independence from the UK and became a best-seller. The book was so influential that John Adams said “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”  So technically we lost but we also won. Sort of.

2: We got to keep Canada

Well, when I say we got to keep Canada, I mean the Queen is their head of state, and when I say Canada is ours, it is ours in the same way that Jaguar is ours (owned by Tata of India), Land Rover (Tata), Rolls Royce & Bentley (VW of Germany), Harrods (Qatar Investment Company). But you get the point. Canada remained part of the British Empire and then the Commonwealth.

It is unlikely the British would have been able to retain control of the American colonies and fight off the French in Canada at the same time. If it hadn’t have been for the war of Independence,  William Shatner, Neil Young, Jim Carrey and Terence and Phillip from South Park among many others would all have spoken French as their mother tongue. Could you imagine “Beam me up, Scotty” in Quebecois?

3: Curry

By allowing the USA to declare Independence*, we were able to concentrate on our other colonies, including the jewel in the crown, India. It can be argued that without the wealth generated from our colonies in India, there would be no Great in Great Britain, but for me the most important point is that if the old imperialists hadn’t been able to focus on India, there would be no Chicken Tikka Masala, the UK’s favourite dish**, so thank you, you American militias!

4: It’s the only date in the calendar year Americans pronounce correctly

It was recently pointed out to me by a friend that it is only on Independence Day that Americans pronounce the date correctly. For 364 days in the year, our American cousins say April Sixth, or February Eleventh. It is only on this special day that the date is pronounced correctly: the fourth of July. Now if only  we could only persuade our cousins to honour our standardised way of spelling.

5: We retain some shred of dignity with our most important sport

In the early american colonies, cricket was by far the most popular sport. Following the War of Independence, Baseball increased in popularity. Participation in cricket diminished and eventually slowly died out, much to the relief of millions of British cricket fans. Why? Well it’s bad enough being beaten by Australia, India, The West Indies and South Africa at cricket on a regular basis. Can you imagine how dominant the US would be if all 400 plus million people loved the game? It’s not like they take football (soccer) seriously yet they still did better than England this World Cup.

So, rather than ignoring the 4th July in the UK, we should embrace it. We should ignore the rain, start up our BBQ’s; pour a nice warm pint of bitter and light the fireworks to give thanks to our forefathers for screwing things up so badly that they turned a happy, contented colony into a hotbed of revolutionary zeal. Despite everything, it was one of the best things they ever did.

OK, this is a lie (see conversation no.1)

** Chicken Tikka Masala was created in Glasgow and is as Indian as Spaghetti Bolognese is Italian

 

This original of this piece was posted 4th July 2013. It has since been re-edited to add more jokes and bring it up to date.

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23 thoughts on “5 Reasons why the British should celebrate 4th July – Redux

  1. Love it love it love it! Particularly point No. 4. Warmhearted as ever. Enjoy your own 4th of July, Dylan!

  2. What a fun, interesting post! Never knew/realised a lot of what you shared either. As Jools said, I especially liked number 4! Never realised that before! So true. That’s hilariously ironic, isn’t it: they’re celebrating their independence from the UK, yet they say the date the British way.
    I always find the love/hate relationship between the UK and USA a difficult one, and I still don’t know where I stand, because I’ve got American family, and indeed I have been to America more than any other country. Independence day is such an awkward one for we Brits, as you said!

    • Thank you. I wouldn’t say we have a love / hate relationship with the USA, we are more like cousins: similar in may ways but we have moments where we look at each other and say “are we really related?”

    • Of course, anything from abroad was seen as foreign unless it was from the Empire, then it was British. Of course, in reality curry (or the use of chillies to spice meat that was ‘on the turn’) originated in Portugal and was brought to India by traders.

  3. I wonder if the Fourth of July appears that way because of its role in the George M Cohen hit ‘I’m a Yankee Doodle dandy’ from 1904. The opening of the chorus is ‘I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, A Yankee Doodle, do or die; A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam, Born on the Fourth of July.’ It was popular with the troops when they went to war in Europe in 1917. It wouldn’t work the other way round! Just a guess; it could well have been in common usage before that. But it would be neat…

  4. I don’t know about the original piece last year, but I enjoyed reading this today. It was fun. I’m glad we followed each other on Twitter so that I could have a chance to read this. 🙂

  5. Of course, the answers to these points should be 1: You did

    Actually, the answer to that question should be “not on your own you didn’t!” 😉

    It is an interesting list and I did know about number 1, just as there were those in the colonies who wanted to retain British rule but reform and campaign for a better deal for the colonies. The British government (isn’t it always?) was its own worst enemy in not listening to reason.

    • The British government at the time was full of people who owned large tracts of the american colonies. They feared reform as it would reduce their profitability and so put pressure on the rest of parliament to come down hard on the colonists. That worked out well for them… 🙂

  6. What a fantastically creative post! I love it. Funny that you Brits call it the War of Independence, while here it’s referred to as The Revolutionary War. And yeah, it’s annoying that we say the dates incorrectly. 🙂 Glad your experiences here have been such positive ones.

      • Going great so far, thank you. I’ve exceeded my word count goal every day, so the plan is to ride the wave as long as it’ll last. Helps that I prepared an extensive outline in advance, though. Gives me a guide by which to work.

  7. No. I might as well go and take a piss on the graves of the British soldiers who died if I celebrate that day and what it stands for. I am British and proud of it, I am not American.

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