Thursday, September 17, 2015

The eternal Anglophile

I grew up in a British colony and went to an English school. All my childhood experiences are English and it is no wonder I grew up an Anglophile, someone who loves all things English even though I've lived in the USA for over 30 years. Its no different today as I watch mostly movies about England, watch English TV series on public television, love the British Bake off shows, Downton Abbey, I know many of us living in the US are in a similar disposition. Its no wonder I'm always in and out of London and therefore England. This past Summer I spent almost a whole month in England. I want to see it in its glory and glorious it was, the lush green rolling hills, the woods, the splendorous country gardens. I do recommend being in England in June. Even the English weather was enjoyed. I spent 3 months traveling alone this past Summer and it rained half the time wherever I was and the English weather did put me off one bit. It was part of the English experience.
Growing up in British North Borneo, my only entertainment was the little library that the British set up in town, the British Council which had also a small library and shows BBC productions of the English classics. We had no television growing up and so our dearest friend was BBC radio. I remember shows like, 'just a minute' where a group of people has to talk for 60 seconds and not repeat any single word. We also enjoyed '20 questions' where within asking 20 questions the panel must guess the object. This was how I learned to speak English and read and write English. Today in my travels in England I have met a lot of foreign students learning English in England. I don't envy them because their success rate is quite low.
I remember going to the movies. For some reason the distribution of American films were not widespread and that was a godsend because the only movies we watched were British productions. Again in the literary world, the only books we knew were all English writers like the Bronte sisters, Kipling, Enid Blyton, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and others.
Today I watch movies like Love, actually, Charlotte Gray, the Merchant/Ivory movies, and prefer actresses like Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren, Emma Thompson, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench.
While in England over this Summer, I met a lot of German girls or young ladies, some has spent time in England as an au pair or been to an English University. They speak English like an English person. A lot of these German girls teach English in schools in Germany. One of them works for BMW in Munich as a venue scout. She travels all over the world for BMW. I'm sure her versatility in the English language has given her a leg up. I am grateful to my English upbringing because it has given me a versatility that I would otherwise not have and given me an incredible leg up.

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