Smitten by Britain Blog on Big Apple Brits - The home of the Britophile!
My interest in Great Britain began at the age of thirteen, when I discovered the Rolling Stones. I would spend hours in my room listening to their albums and staring at the cover of “High Tide and Green Grass”. There was something about that cover, whether it was the grey light from the English sky, the lads in their 60’s fashion and overgrown mop tops or all of it put together, I’m not sure, I just know I wanted more. So it wasn’t the Beatles, as you might have predicted, but the Stones who served as the catalyst for my learning all things British. Soon I discovered British comedies and developed an appreciation for British humor, as well as an admiration for their use of language. Like me, the British found humor in the ironies of life. “They get it, they really get it”, I thought.
As a teen, I loved rainy days because it reminded me of what I imagined Britain to be like. I would sit in my window and pretend I was looking out over misty covered moors. I’m sure this sounds as if I must have been a fan of Jane Austen novels, as many Anglophiles are, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I was never a fan of fiction and I was more interested in British popular culture than the iconic works of Britain’s past; the images in my mind came from photos and television shows. Maybe this was all a form of escapism typical for most teenagers, I can‘t say for sure, but I do know that England was never very far from my mind and always found its way back to me.
And so it did, in 1988, when I received my orders from the United States military, assigning my first duty station as RAF Chicksands in Befordshire. Needless to say I was thrilled and full of anticipation for fulfilling a dream. But those feelings were quickly replaced by culture shock on my first night in England. I was no longer living in Britain in my head but experiencing it as it was, different from anywhere else I had been before. Call it naïveté’ or youth or a bit of both, but this wasn’t what I expected. As I stared out of my bedroom window into complete darkness -the blackest darkness I had ever seen - I felt like I was on another planet. There were no streetlights, unlike the suburbs of America and I could only find four television stations and even fewer stations on the radio. Was I dreaming? Did I fall asleep on the plane and wake up in the 1950’s? That night I cried myself to sleep. Welcome to Britain.
It took nearly six months for me to really start enjoying life in England. This was my first experience living on my own and I was surrounded by complete strangers and in a different country no less. Of course the internet did not exist in those days, at least publicly, so my means of communicating with family back home was limited to phone calls and letters. The transition did get easier though once I met a Scottish man, whom I later married. With his help I made friends and learned to appreciate the uniqueness of British culture. I won’t lie to you, I was extremely homesick and missed the conveniences of American life, but again, I chalk this up to being so young and inexperienced. With the wisdom of years I can look back on this time now and admit that my complaints were very petty. Now I could care less about finding fast food in the middle of the night or if the nearest shopping mall is more than an hour away, those things aren’t important now. What I did enjoy about Britain was the gorgeous scenery, the history, the sense of community that comes with nights in the pub (topped off with a kebab), good friends who believe “once a mate, always a mate”, their wonderful sense of humor and Indian food.
Now, twenty years on, my love of Britain has grown to an obsession and given birth to my blog, Smitten by Britain, which is my sounding board for all things British. I discuss the books I read, the films I watch, and the telly I consume- all Britain all the time. I am a student of my passion and after years of driving my friends and family mad talking about it, I finally have an outlet to share what I’ve learned with others who love Britain the way I do. And while I’m no longer married to the Scotsman, we do share a wonderful son who is moving to Glasgow next year. I’m excited for him and in a way, feel as if life has come full circle. How fitting that I, the consummate Britophile, should give birth to a Brit and soon become what I affectionately refer to as an MBE (Mother of a British Emigrant). Now, if I could only convince the Home Office that this accomplishment deserves favored immigration status.
Smitten by Britain. For people who love Great Britain and all things British. British travel, Britophile, Great Britain, Britain, Anglophile, United Kingdom, England, Scotland, Wales.
Big Apple Brits - British Expats, Anglophiles, Britophile's and lovers of Brit culture in New York City - The home of the Britophile!