NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND by Bill Bryson (hier online bestellen)

The story:
Bill Bryson is American who puts a mirror in front of the British to show them what particular people they are.
When Bryson arrived in Dover in 1973 for the first time, he was intrigued by the way how differently people lived and behaved, although speaking the same language (almost) as him. The 'strange ways' of the British manifest themselves in all walks of life.
Being an American Bryson had never before heard of Tesco's (supermarket chain), trunk calls (long distance phone calls), Christmas crackers (favourite Christmas gifts that pop up), bank holidays, Poppy Day (Remembrance Day) or L-plates (Learner) on the back of a car. It also struck him when shop ladies addressed him with 'love' and men with 'mate'.
Bryson makes fun of the English whenever he can. So when he was once travelling by train and wanted a British rail guard at Manchester Station for some directions, Bryson says about him, 'It was unfortunate for him that there was no station in Britain called 'Fuck Off' because that was clearly what he wanted to tell people'. Bryson also wonders that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was founded some 60 years before the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, by which he obviously wants to show the English people's fondness of animals. In Bryson's typically humorous way of describing the British, he says that British walkers wear shorts even in wintertime - 'always a sign of advanced dementia in a British walker'.
On the positive side, Bryson is amazed about the great number of well educated people from unprivileged backgrounds. Thus in the TV programme 'Mastermind' it is cabdrivers and footplatemen who are the winners. Therefore he has been wondering whether England is a country where engine drivers know about Tintoretto and Leibniz or a country where people who know about Tintoretto and Leibniz end up driving engines (like many graduated Americans ending up driving taxis).
What Bryson admires above all about the British is their 'innate sense of good manners'. He says that 'deference and a quiet consideration for others are fundamental parts of British life. Any encounter with a stranger would be started with the words I'm terribly sorry but followed by a request of some sort like could you tell me the way to Brighton? or get your steamer trunk (Überseekoffer) off my foot. When one day Bryson checked into a hotel he observed a woman at the reception saying 'I'm terribly sorry but I can't seem to get the television in my room to work'. He had obviously never seen anybody apologizing to a hotel for their TV not working...
Notes from a Small Island is not only about the British character, but also about the British countryside, as Bryson travelled extensively across Britain.

Extract from book:
There are certain idiosyncratic notions that you quietly come to accept when you live for a long time in Britain. One is that British summers used to be longer and sunnier. Another is that the England soccer team shouldn't have any trouble with Norway. A third is the idea that Britain is a big place. This last is easily the most intractable.
If you mention in the pub that you intend to drive from, say, Surrey to Cornwall, a distance that most Americans would happily go to get a taco, your companions will puff their cheeks, look knowingly at each other, and blow out air as if to say, "Well, now, that's a bit of a tall order," and then they'll launch into a lively and protracted discussion of whether it's better to take the A30 to Stockbridge and then the A303 to Ilchester, or the A361 to Glastonbury via Shepton Mallet. Within minutes the conversation will plunge off into a level of detail that leaves you, as a foreigner, swiveling your head in quiet wonderment.
"You know that lay-by outside Warminster, the one with the grit box with the broken handle?" one of them will say. "You know, just past the turnoff for Little Puking but before the B6029 miniroundabout."
At this point, you find you are the only person in the group not nodding vigorously.
"Well, about a quarter of a mile past there, not the first left turning but the second one, there's a lane between two hedgerows -- they're mostly hawthorn but with a little hazel mixed in. Well, if you follow that road past the reservoir and under the railway bridge, and take a sharp right at the Buggered Ploughman --"
"Nice little pub," somebody will interject -- usually, for some reason, a guy in a bulky cardigan. "They do a decent pint of Old Toejam."

About the author:
Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. A backpacking expedition in 1973 brought him to England where he met his wife and decided to stay. He wrote for the English newspapers for many years, writing travel articles to enhance his income. He lived with his family in North Yorkshire before moving back to the States in 1995. He now lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his wife and four children.
The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson's hilarious first travel book, describes a trip in his mother's Chevy around small town America. Since then, he has written several more about the UK and the US, including bestsellers, A Walk in the Woods, I'm A Stranger Here Myself (published in Britain as Notes from a Big Country), and In a Sunburned Country (published in Britain as Down Under). His other books include Bill Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words, Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, Made in America, The Mother Tongue and Bill Bryson's African Diary. His latest book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, is available now.

Notes from a Small Island
Sprache: Englisch
Broschiert - 351 Seiten - Black Swan
Erscheinungsdatum: 1. August 1996
ISBN: 0552996009
Preis: € 13,30

More works from the same author:

hier online bestellen

Mother Tongue
hier online bestellen

Notes from a Big Country (=I'm a Stranger Here Myself)
hier online bestellen

A Short History of Nearly Everything
hier online bestellen

Down Under
(= Sunburned)
hier online bestellen

Neither Here Nor There

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