September 20th, 2013

nellie salutes you

Things I'm Looking Forward To Doing Now That I'm British: Number Five

5. Developing modes of expression so subtle it takes emotional radar as sensitive as a scanning electron microscope to detect them. You know the Eddie Izzard sketch* where he talks about the difference between British and American films? And he uses, as an example, a scene where Sebastian walks into a room where someone is arranging matches, exchanges some words and departs? In the British version, the words are few, seemingly desultory and painfully polite. In the American version, the words are many, their meanings transparent and there is a lot of arm-waving and swearing. What is perhaps not obvious is that these scenes have exactly the same emotional content.

I can illustrate with an anecdote. We had to rush Humuhumu to the hospital a couple of weeks ago**. The bloke was extremely upset and worried. Would you like to know how he expressed that? He was tapping his finger on the steering wheel and exceeding the speed limit by more than five miles an hour.

* If you don't know it, please watch here: YouTube video of the sketch, 05:34, audio NSFW.
** Nobody panic: She's fine and there won't be any long-term effects.

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