Saturdays in our house are a kind of homage to smug liberals everywhere. The recent discovery of the East Oxford farmer's market makes it worse. It used to be Sundays, but the Observer just isn't as good as the Saturday Guardian, and by lunchtime we're sitting at the kitchen table reading columns out loud to each other while we eat our locally-grown vegetables and freshly baked bread. It's almost disgusting. No; it is disgusting, but endearingly so, don't you think? One of my greatest Saturday pleasures is Tim Dowling, the front-of-magazine columnist who writes about...well, nothing, really, and writes it well. These last few weeks his pieces have been rather lackluster , but I eat them up even so, and I always, always want to root for him, especially when he writes about googling himself (am I secretly hoping he might take the practice up again and find my blog? Yes, maybe. So what.) and discovers there are people out there who think he's a twat. He is not, as far as I can tell, a twat.
And then, the other day, I had a revelation: part of the reason I'm so enamoured of Dowling (apart from envying his ability to turn the boring into the amusing) is that he's American born.
- I had not previously heard of Tom Stade, and;
- American accents and Canadian accents SOUND THE SAME TO ME*. Maybe I should be more discerning, but I'm not.
So I heard Tom Stade speaking and I had this weird thought: aw, another American. And every time he said something funny, I laughed louder than I did for Frankie Boyle and co., and every time he said something almost-funny-but-not-quite I laughed anyway, and then I realized that this is my own brand of patriotism, and I'm somewhat relieved to have found it.
My patriotism has been missing for awhile now. I meet fellow Americans in bars and at dinner parties here, and sometimes they'll say, but honestly, don't you miss the US? And I'll have to admit that what I miss most is not the beloved nation but my weird, lovable little family and the weird little ranch where I grew up. They'll name chain restaurants, routines and traditions, products you can't get here, and I won't feel that warm fuzzy feeling I probably should.
I thought I was weird. But now I know: give me an American writer (/comedian/actor/radio host/etc) living (or at least performing) in the UK, and I'll support him (or her) with the passion of a true patriot.
*Upon futher investigation, I learned that Tom Stade is Canadian, not American. So before writing this post I double-checked that Dowling is, as I had always suspected, a fellow citizen.