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The Yanks invade parish but get spanked in battle of the pub quiz.


"BUDDY!" bellowed the portly individual standing manfully on the village green. He removed his baseball cap and scrutinised the grass.

"Ever seen two worms tie themselves in a knot?" "Sheepshank?" I asked. "Hell no," shouted the visitor, staring intently at the earth at his feet, "looks like a reef knot."

In that case, 'yes' -many times. There's been something of an American invasion on our quintessential English hamlet - Boston, Mass. to be precise: they spit out the 'Mass' with all the menace of a bank robber. Since around 15 of them descended for a business seminar, our sleepy community has received a wake-up call.

They've taken pictures of everything. One, long-lens hanging from his neck, asked Yours Truly: "Fella - is there a village idiot in these parts?" He added hastily: "Heck, you'll do. Can you dribble a little bit for the picture?" A treasure hunt, with clues to key village landmarks such as the site of the miracle of the milk that turned to yoghurt (a miracle aided and abetted by one of the hottest summers on record) heralded their arrival. A young thing ran breathlessly towards me. "Heya!" she shrieked, "can you help with this riddle -'prise if you can, information from the Miserable Man'?" Psychotic Told her to get off my bloody lawn or I'd unleash our psychotic cat.

"Hey, guys," she yelled excitedly at the waiting car, "I think I've got one."

Since then, they've been humbled in the pub quiz, an event punctuated by whoops and 'hi-fives'. "There WAS a King Henry Vee," protested one, "that's where Bobby Vee the singer got his name from."

I gently pointed out there wasn't a King Henry Ivy, either.

They slunk out of the pub, with the team captain loudly conceding: "OK. Charles Dickens wasn't from Illinois, but he God damn should've been."

In the few days they've been here, they've threatened a lot of bottom-bashing.

They've promised to punish posteriors in the pub: "Whose ass do I have to kick to get a bottle of Bud in this place?" Not one regular dared to leave his stool.

At the Women's Institute fundraising jam and chutney stall: "Your members don't make peanut butter! Well you want to kick some ass until they do."

The shell-shocked stall-holder pointed out she had an artificial knee.

And at the monthly folk night: "You don't know a single Michael Bolton record?" scoffed one, whose shirt was only slightly louder than his voice. "This is a ceilidh," politely pointed out the bearded fiddle-player, "a folk dance."

"Then kick some ass, folks," replied the American.

The portly gent on the village green looked-up from the entwined earthworms.

"What's your team, friend?" he demanded. "I'm an Arsenal fan." That figured - he probably had a shorter distance to travel to the ground than most Gunners' supporters.

Mischievously, I asked where Arsenal play. "London," he boomed. "I thought you guys were supposed to know about sow-ca."

I've quickly learnt that, as a race, Americans are deceptive. Because we share a common tongue and look the same, we don't see them as foreign. Culturally, however, we couldn't be more different. We say tomato, they say tomayto. We say Paganini, they say page nine.

It has its roots in a lack of rich history, I believe. That's why there's been an endless stream of them taking pictures of the parish's only remaining outside toilet, attached to a farm labourer's cottage. The farm labourer in question emerged to be greeted by a battery of cameras.

Old Tom thought the throng were from environmental health, rushed back inside, flushed and barked: "Happy now?" The animosity felt by some older residents stems from a time when GI Joes had their wicked ways with local lasses for bubble gum. Now it will cost at least a fish and chip supper. That's inflation.

"Used to live in Minnesota," one American informed drinkers yesterday. "Glad I left. Only people you'll find in Minnesota are whores and hockey players."

A local cleared his throat and confessed: "Actually, my mother's from Minnesota."

"Really?" cried the Yank. "What team did she play for?"
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 21, 2010
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