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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5 Reasons the British should celebrate the 4th July

Come on, let's celebrate together

Come on, let’s celebrate together

Today 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. Now I love the USA; I’ve been to the USA many times and half my family live there. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the USA at this time of year and whenever I’ve talked to my American friends about Independence Day the conversation goes one of two ways:

Conversation no.1: We kicked your ass!

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

Now, the logical response to these points should be 1: You did, and 2: Have a little think about that (see conversation no.1), but I strongly believe that the British should also celebrate Independence Day and here are five reasons why.

English: Thomas Paine statue, Thetford, UK

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

1: It was our idea

This may 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, who in 1776 had only been in the US two years when he wrote “Common Sense”, the best-selling book that advocated colonial America’s independence from the UK. 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.” 

2: We got to keep Canada

For those of you who laugh, I think we got the best deal*. Remember, this is the land that has given us William Shatner, Neil Young and Terence and Phillip from South Park among many others. 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). And I know I’m ignoring Quebec. But you get the point.

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 we 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 the Americans say correctly

I worked for an American company for many years and one thing that bugged me was having to change my spellings for any presentation**** that would be sent to the US. However, it was recently pointed out to me by a friend that on one day per year the Americans say 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 we could only persuade our cousins to honour our standardised way of spelling, it would make this one English pedant very happy.

5: We remain competitive at the important sports

In the early colonies, cricket was the most popular sport. After the War of Independence, Baseball became more popular and participation in cricket slowly died out, to the relief of British cricket fans. I mean, 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?

So, rather than ignoring the 4th July in the UK, we should embrace it by ignoring the rain and 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.

* If you are still laughing at this, remember Canada is the only country to have burnt down Washington DC

** 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

**** I didn’t have to, I did it out of politeness in the typically British way of preferring to cause pain to one’s self rather than impose on others