By the way, I am not sure whether John Cleese really wrote that 'open letter' or not: but let the post remain, because I enjoyed the humour, and I hope so will my readers. Now someone has just sent me a witty rebuttal to the former (without telling me who wrote it), and I am reproducing it below. Enjoy!
To the citizens of the United Kingdom:
We welcome your concern about our electoral process. It must be exciting for you to see a real republic in action, even if from a distance. As always we are amused by your quaint belief that you are actually a world power. You guys have a really hard time in accepting that the sun has set on the British Empire, don’t you?
Nevertheless, we regretfully have to reject your offer of intervention. After much deliberation, we have decided to continue our tradition as the longest running democratic republic. Perhaps you haven’t realized this yet, enamored as you are with your colonial past, but switching back to monarchy is in fact considered a backward step in today’s world.
We considered for a while annexing the British Isles as a part of the USA. It is not a bad idea, in the light of your indecision over joining a common European currency, your dissatisfaction and constant bickering with the European Union, and the utter faithfulness that Tony Blair demonstrated as long as he stayed in the office. But we finally decided against it, for two very good reasons: (1) Now that the seventh book of the Harry Potter series has been published, you hardly have anything to offer; (2) And therefore, we refuse to put up with an entire nation that’s soaked in beer and is forever whining about how great they used to be.
To help you rise from your current anachronistic status, we have compiled a series of helpful suggestions that we hope you understand and adopt.
1) Let us begin with your ‘aluminium’ example. Humphrey Davy, an Englishman, invented the name ‘aluminum’ (note the spelling) for the metal. However, in common usage the name evolved into ‘aluminium’ to match the naming conventions of other elements. In 1925, the United States decided to switch back to the original spelling and pronunciation of the word. And we can’t see what’s objectionable about that. Clearly you aren’t able to accept the fact that the usage of language varies from one country to another, depending upon the cultures and preferences of those countries. However, the good old days when you forced half the world to do what you did is long over, so learn to live with ‘aluminum’.
We may also add that we don’t want to be lectured on the pronunciation of that particular word, seeing that it was an American named Charles Martin Hall, alongwith a Frenchman called Paul Heroult, who developed the process of actually producing aluminum. You should thank us (and France), for without us, you would never have had that statue of the Angel of Christian Charity in London.
We, in turn, shall thank you for the Oxford Dictionary. It is an interesting collection, considering that over 10,000 of the words in the original edition were submitted by a crazy American Civil War veteran called Dr. William C. Minor.
2) We see absolutely no need to insert the ‘U’-s in such words as ‘color’ and ‘favor’, seeing that it makes no difference in the pronunciation, that writing an additional letter is not exactly a sign of greater intelligence, and that Ernest Hemingway won praise from Winston Churchill without writing the extra ‘U’-s. The same goes for the suggestion of replacing ‘ize’ with ‘ise’.
3) “Like” and “you know” are keywords used by American teens to gauge parental aggravation. We are not happy about the overuse of these words by our youth, but compared to the British “poppycock” and “I say, old bean”, we consider ourselves lucky. And any American who knows twenty-seven words is a scholar compared to the average Briton, who, by what we understand from our observations on football grounds and British TV serials, can barely proceed beyond “Hey-ya”, “F*** you” and “That rocks.” You aren’t exactly in a position to comment upon the intelligence level of other people, when polls published in your own newspapers routinely report that your youth know far more about David Beckham and Elton John that they do about Shakespeare and Faraday. It’s comforting to us, of course; our children at least know that Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Edison deserve more respect and importance than footballers, pop singers and models.
4) Should you decide to cancel July 4th, we feel obliged to warn you: you would most assuredly be found at every Redneck barbecue on the rotisserie with apples in your mouths. Trust us—you don’t want to mess with Americans when it comes to celebrating their national holiday.
5) You need to learn from Americans how to settle disputes and solve problems with the help of lawyers and therapists — that is, through legal and medical means, rather than through drunken brawls and fistfights in pubs and bars. From what The Times tell us, the London police had a busy time last year: they had to arrest more than 300 people, either for drunken fights in public or for driving under the influence of alcohol. Speaks volumes about the Britons’ regard for laws, too! So, do come over to America to see how much more effective, peaceful and civil lawsuits and therapist sessions are, compared to your method of breaking into a fight to settle scores. Perhaps this is a hangover of the practice of throwing gloves and challenging others to duel at the drop of a hat? Old habits die hard, after all!
P.S. Our lawyers are much like your barristers, only they get to keep a great deal more of their earnings, since we have no Queen to keep in the lap of luxury.
6) While we cannot, and will not, make excuses for the shootings in the college campuses of our country, we do wish to state quite emphatically that not all Americans go around with guns tucked into their belts. There are gun-control laws and organizations here. We do have our share of nutters, but then which country doesn’t? The BBC reports that gun crime rates between UK and the USA are narrowing rapidly, that since the beginning of 2008, there have been 70 shootings (with 22 deaths) in London alone, and that one is now six times more likely to be mugged in London than in New York. So, once again, heal thyself first.
7) Paying $6/US gallon will probably happen when our troops are withdrawn from the Middle East. Sadly, this would cause your gasoline costs to double, unless you can somehow figure out how to convert the oil-covered Thames River into petrol.
8) Those things which you call chips are cholesterol-soaked abominations, and are responsible for turning half of Britain into fattened pigs that dress and walk on hind legs (Dudley Dursley from the Harry Potter books is the standard British adolescent today; we congratulate J.K. Rowling for her utter honesty in depicting her countrymen). So, you need to learn to eat fries, light fluffy potato in crisp coating. These contain fat but are deemed far less harmful.
By the way, are you aware that British cuisine is now unanimously regarded as the worst in the world? The best restaurants in your country now are the ones that serve Indian and Chinese food. Learn a little cooking from the French, why don’t you?
9) If you truly want to enjoy beer, have it the American way: cold. The warm, insipid drink you call beer is actually ale, and the FDA have determined it to be unfit for human consumption. We are experimenting to see if we can use it as insecticide.
10) If you want Hollywood to cast English actors, provide us with people who know the difference between acting and buffoonery — or, to be more precise, the difference between sentient beings and puppets. The last great actor you sent us was Anthony Hopkins, and he is long past his prime. As for the guys who came to Hollywood thereafter, the less said the better. Ewan McGregor and Orlando Bloom can’t act to save their lives. Hugh Grant is so bad that he gives bad actors a bad name. Ralph Fiennes is good only when it comes to playing murderous psychos, and frankly, we are tired of seeing him snarling and stabbing and shooting. So unless you can provide us with another Hopkins (you have become such a decadent nation that we are not even expecting another Laurence Olivier), leave the job of casting to the men in Hollywood.
And speaking of cinema, would you kindly tell your directors to stop depicting all Americans as cowboys, Red Indians, gangsters and Beverley Hills billionaires? Our society is far more diverse and interesting than that. Diversity is a concept that we do not really expect you to understand, seeing that you employ skinhead gangs to hound the Asian and African immigrants out of UK. But we in the USA assimilate the immigrants, with the result that we are the most successful multicultural society in the world. If you want to see a proper representation of America on the celluloid, watch the recent Oscar-winner Crash. It offers a credible depiction of how America, despite occasional clashes and interracial tensions, has succeeded in becoming the melting pot of the world.
11) While we do call our Baseball tournament ‘World Series’, let us assure you that we are perfectly aware of the fact that this game is not played anywhere else in the world. Still, it is certainly a misnomer. But aren’t you guilty of the same? What, for example, is this nonsense about ‘Cricket World Cup’, when that game is played only by you and a few of your former colonies? The five biggest nations in the world—Russia, Canada, China, the USA, and Brazil—are not even aware of the existence of this game. And among the European nations, you alone play it. And still you insist on calling it ‘World Cup.’ Inferiority complex, anyone?
12) Stop advising us on football. We have outperformed you in that game for the last seven years, whether in the Olympics or at the World Cup. Instead of wasting time in trying to teach us football, pay attention to your national squad. And for Pete’s sake, throw out David Beckham. The guy is far better known for his tattoos, hairstyles and extra-marital affairs than for his skill with the ball. Realize how overrated he is, and then search for new players.
13) Stop playing rugby. There is no need for a sport that involves only punching, kicking and thrashing your opponents: we already have boxing, karate and wrestling for that.
14) “Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s driving us mad”—really? You are so interested in American affairs? Good for you, you should be. After all, JFK was a far more significant figure than Princess Diana, in investigating the circumstances of whose death your police wasted years and your newspapers wasted an outrageous amount of paper and ink.
15) We understand why you need the money you would have obtained from us if we had still been your colony: you have a useless royal family to feed and decorate. However, we are not going to pay you any money, and certainly not those ‘taxes’ which date back to 1776. After all, what use is your queen to us, apart from the inspiration she can possibly provide to San Francisco’s cross-dressing community with her ridiculous sense of fashion? So, continue to drain your own taxpayers to get the money for the queen and her bratty ‘princes’.
Thank you for your time and attention. You can now return to watching bad soap operas.
P.S. Regarding WWII: You’re welcome.
P.S. Regarding WWII: You’re welcome.