Thursday, 30 July 2009
by Ogden Nash Let us pause to consider the English. Who when they pause to consider themselves they get all reticently thrilled and tinglish, Because every Englishman is convinced of one thing, viz: That to be an Englishman is to belong to the most exclusive club there is: A club to which benighted bounders of Frenchmen and Germans and Italians et cetera cannot even aspire to belong, Because they don't even speak English, and the Americans are worst of all because they speak it wrong. Englishmen are distinguished by their traditions and ceremonials, And also by their affection for their colonies and their contempt for their colonials. When foreigners ponder world affairs, why sometimes by doubts they are smitten, But Englishmen know instinctively that what the world needs most is whatever is best for Great Britain. They have a splendid navy and they conscientiously admire it, And every English schoolboy knows that John Paul Jones was only an unfair American pirate. English people disclaim sparkle and verve, But speak without reservations of their Anglo-Saxon reserve. After listening to little groups of English ladies and gentlemen at cocktail parties and in hotels and Pullmans, of defining Anglo-Saxon reserve I despair, But I think it consists of assuming that nobody else is there, And I shudder to think where Anglo-Saxon reserve ends when I consider where it begins, Which is in a few high-pitched statements of what one's income is and just what foods give one a rash and whether one and one's husband or wife sleep in a double bed or twins. All good young Englishmen go to Oxford or Cambridge and they all write and publish books before their graduation, And I often wondered how they did it until I realised that they have to do it because their genteel accents are so developed that they can no longer understand each other's spoken words so the written word is their only means of intercommunication. England is the last home of the aristocracy, and the art of protecting the aristocracy from the encroachments of commerce has been raised to quite an art, Because in America a rich butter-and-egg man is only a rich butter-and-egg man or at most an honorary LL.D of some hungry university, but in England why before he knows it he is Sir Benjamin Buttery, Bart. Anyhow, I think the English people are sweet, And we might as well get used to them because when they slip and fall they always land on their own or somebody else's feet.