Friday, November 22, 2002


I recently (on 19th) put up a post questioning Andrew Sullivan�s claim that the British are �crude� and rude compared to Americans. My underlying point was that he was failing to give proper recognition to the stratified nature of both his own and British society and was making an unfair comparison between British working-class culture and his own no doubt much less working-class environment in the USA.

One of my regular Australian readers, however, has written in with a vigorous defence of Sullivan�s claims that does appear to make a relevant comparison:

I worked in a a trading room in NYC for 15 years and working in that environment allowed me to interact with the London desk very often. So as an Australian I had the unique experience of interacting with both cultures. You see the real animal instincts coming out, as nothing can really be kept in the dark for a long time in a trading environment.

Let me tell you, I found English traders and sales people the very worst group of people to work with. They are very rude and arrogant and need to be told to f*** right off very often. I found Americans to be on the whole a polite bunch who are very hard working and methodical.

I really think that the English do have a class thing about them. Whenever I visited London for business I experienced the true meaning of Yuppy and it wasn't pretty. You would never find an American talking incessently about the new Porsche he bought or the jewels he bought his wife with the bonus he got -- as English traders did. Compared to NY London seemed to me to be a very posy place. Maybe it is new money people. New money people in NYC take it in their stride whereas Brits have to be loud and show that although they don't have class ( whatever that means) they have money.

I know exactly what Sullivan is talking about and believe me, you just don't get a true understanding of Americans through short visits. You really have to live there for a while at least.

I must say that he has a point. Foolish boastfulness and arrogance among the English are certainly far from unknown.

No comments: