There’ll Always Be an England

Persons from the UK had a bit of fun with the NYTimes in responding to a query concerning “crimes” to which they had been victim in their native land. The following tweet, among others, appeared in The Guardian in mid-December:

Once I accidentally queue-barged a man in a supermarket. I apologised profusely for not realising they were in a queue. They then apologised for making a big deal about nothing. I then apologised for their apology. Then someone behind us apologised for asking us to move up.

There it is: assault by apology, a tort of courtesy. The low-hanging fruit here, linguistically, is “ ‘queue-barged’ a man.” The phrase “queue-barge,” new to me, is vastly superior to its USA equivalent “break in line” (“I broke in line in front of a man”). The felonious welter of apologies pursuant to the primary infraction is secondarily ravishing. It reminds me of the “thank you”s I had to endure in passing through the Heathrow security check: “thank you” for stepping a bit this way; “thank you” for holding my wallet during the body scan; “thank you” for raising my arms slightly during the scan; “thank you” for retrieving my personal effects; etc. etc. etc. At the end of the 10-minute ordeal I was exhausted from saying “you’re welcome.”

(c) 2018 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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17 Responses to There’ll Always Be an England

  1. I’ve not heard queue barge, I use ‘pushing in’. I can remember a game of badminton as a child with my aunt, we gave up exhausted by the needless apologies given after every bad shot and miss. We banned ‘sorry’ for the rest of the day

    • JMN says:

      Your badminton anecdote is delightful. “Pushing in” is charming. Unfamiliar to me, also. The barging and pushing have much in common. I did know that our “line” is your queue. We stand in line. You queue up. The dialect differences are endlessly fascinating. I got a kick from embroidering on the “apology” tweet. I’ve heard that Canadians are renowned for being “sorry” a lot (like your aunt).

      • Over-‘sorry’-ing is a common trait here and we can’t abide queue jumpers, it’s one of the deadly sins!

      • JMN says:

        Excessive though it be in yours, I think a bit more ‘sorry’-ing woudn’t be amiss in my own country. Isn’t the image of the cocky Yank fairly rooted? A book I read as an adolescent impressed me: “The Ugly American” by Eugene Burdick. It made me want to be a diplomat in far-away countries and and patch up hard feelings. As for queue jumpers, I think they’re universally despised — a sin right up there with sloth!

      • You’ve made me think where I get my images of ‘yanks’ from. All entirely fictitious I’m afraid! Books and films. I’ve been working my way slowly through ‘time out’s 50 greatest westerns’ and am currently reading David Niven’s Bring on the Empty Horses – hollywood memoirs, so possibly slightly skewed. You are my only current living specimen!

      • JMN says:

        Wow! I did a little Googling on the Niven book you mention. No less a personage than William F. Buckley, Jr. reviewed it in the NYTimes in 1975, and said in his first paragraph it “might easily be the best book every written about Hollywood.” I’d like to read it. I loved Niven as an actor. He seems to me cut from similar cloth to Michael Caine. Also, your comment introduced me to the list of westerns. I grew up on this genre, but aren’t close to them now, though I do have a good memory of “High Noon.” I’m happy to be your current living specimen of Yank, though I’m not sure how true to the species I am! The cowboy troop breaks out for me something like this: John Wayne I’m least fond of; Clint Eastwood close behind. (Why have I painted both of them twice?) Steve McQueen and Richard Boone introduced the suave, ironic gunslinger type who fights for the lady in distress and the underdog. I fell pretty hard for those two at 15, ironically (I don’t cotton to guns). Of all the Hollywood “cowboys,” Gary Cooper’s impersonation most closely approximated my granddad, who was a real one.

      • I read Niven’s The Moon’s a Balloon sometime ago, and that was hilarious. He comes across as an exceptionally nice man. I always thought he was a strange looking hollywood star though. He had some memorable appearances on the BBC classic talk show ‘Parkinson’ – Memorable to me for the 70’s shirts and jackets he was wearing. I’m sure his shirt was green! My dad loved John Wayne, not me although I’ve spotted Red River is on this christmas and is on the time out list so shall record. I’m ready to be proved wrong by the right film. If you can add some recommendations not on the list, I would appreciate it. A previous colleague gave me his own off the cuff list and it included “anything by Richard Boone”. That’s very interesting about Cooper/your grandfather. Since the colleague has retired, there is noone to share my love of westerns with. A ‘marmite’ genre perhaps – you either love ’em or hate ’em

      • JMN says:

        Wonderful. I’ll return here with more thoughts on the westerns. Much fun to recall this terrain. Very interesting what your colleague said about Richard Boone. I only know him from the TV series “Have Gun Will Travel.” Re John Wayne, I remember enjoying “North From Alaska” as a kid. I’ve never seen his last film, “The Shootist,” but it might break out of the mold a bit. With westerns I think I’m somewhere midway in the love-hate continuum. There are some I want to mention, but I need to dig a bit.

      • JMN says:

        In reviewing the list of westerns I realize I’ve been more entertained by the genre over the years than I realized. I liked “Lonesome Dove” a lot. I note that it’s based on a novel by a Texan and stars two Texans. I’m not a “super-Texan,” but Duvall and Jones have a naturalness and understatement in their depictions (as I recall) that I appreciate, Duvall especially. I liked “Open Range.” Costner did a great job. The gunplay in the showdown has a starkness that’s realistic and gripping. I’ll watch Annette Bening in anything! Other likes: “The Missouri Breaks” (twisty and peculiar); “Blazing Saddles” (Mel Brooks always oversteps into goofiness for me,but still has its moments); “High Noon”; “One-eyed Jacks.” Other films on the list are familiar to me by name, but I haven’t seen them. My sister liked “Goin’ South” with Jack Nicholson and I keep wanting to watch it. He’s a favorite actor of mine. I enjoyed “Godless” on Netflix. Jeff Daniels has a great role as the heavy, and it has the novel touch that the women of the town mount a heroic armed defense against his outlaw band. I have to swallow hard over the graphic violence in productions like this, but at least it’s not glamorized and gratuitous. Also really enjoyed “Deadwood.” Ornate dialog seems almost Elizabethan. Full of epithets and obscenities. Nitty-gritty realism in the mining town depiction. Ian McShane has a terrific role as a kingpin of dubious character — not all good or bad. How often do westerns have that nuance?!

      • I’ve never seen Deadwood apart from adverts. Looked good. Glad to see Ian McShane again- have you ever see Lovejoy?! (That’s an aside, nothing to do with westrns). Have not see Lonesome Dove or Goin South, but have Open Range, one eyed jacks, high noon, grew up with Blazing Saddles (can virtually recite it and once played it just to see how many times they said Shit in it or probably more – ‘Shiite’/ ‘sheeite’?) and I think I started this western odyssey of mine started with the Missouri Breaks. I even have a post called the ‘Missouri Brecks’ a pun on an area of Norfolk. I can feel a western post list coming whether anyone other than you will look at it or not!

      • JMN says:

        Great response. I’m glad I hit on some of your favorites (favourites). What fun with Blazing Saddles. “Shiiyit” maybe? I haven’t seen McShane in anything but Deadwood. I keep resorting to the word “powerful” to describe his voice and screen presence in that role. It may be the western series I’ve found most intriguing. I’ll keep an eye peeled for “Lovejoy.” Isn’t McShane Irish? (Aside from westerns, Robert Duvall is great in “Assassination Tango” if you haven’t seen it.) I need a western post list from you to cheer me out of this flu bout. I don’t seem to have the defenses for Iberian microbes. (My family wants me to return during summer, not winter!)

      • List on it’s way in 2019. Have Red River to watch tomorrow

  2. Eric Wayne says:

    I still have the Chinese memorized from over 5 years ago: “bie cha dui”. That’s how much I had to use it. When looking for someone to cut in front of, lao wai are an easy target, unless they can say “Bie cha dui!”.

    • JMN says:

      Chinese must be fascinating. In another life, etc. I keep saying that. I tried to convince my son to study Chinese when he was in high school, but he opted for French. Are “lao wai” what’s called “gaijin” in Japan? Not sure of that spelling. I’ve apologized more in my lifetime than I’d like, but as Churchill said of someone, I have much to be humble about!

      • Eric Wayne says:

        Yup, “lao wai” is a foreigner, and so is “wai guo ren”. I think Chinese might be more fun than French, and the grammar is much easier. There’s no conjugating verbs! However, the writing is impossible.

      • JMN says:

        The Chinese have just landed on the dark side of the moon. How on earth do they manage such a feat with that writing system? No conjugated verbs, really? How could they say “I will have finished my martini when we reach Tulsa”? In helping my Spanish relatives with their English I’m convinced that the worst part of English is the pronunciation (along with spelling). My grandkids have the grammar aced, but I can’t understand a word when they speak! I know from your blog that you teach English, or have done. Your insights would be immense.

  3. JMN says:

    Chinese must be fascinating. In another life, etc. I keep saying that. I tried to convince my son to study Chinese when he was in high school, but he opted for French. Are “lao wai” what’s called “gaijin” in Japan? Not sure of that spelling. I’ve apologized more in my lifetime than I’d like, but as Churchill said of someone, I have much to be humble about!

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