1) I am an author who is writing a book about the USA / UK dynamic - the so-called 'Special Relationship'.
2) I'm doing this because whilst previously being an Ameri-cynic, I've recently become, for reasons explained below, a big fan of that country, its people and culture (what culture you may ask) and I'm interested to find out whether a majority of the British public share or oppose my view. I want to explore this dynamic and write about it.
3) I would dearly like to interview President Obama as research for my book and believe that, by sending him a British flag with the well-wishes of at least 100 of our country's high and mighty and not-so mighty (as voted for by members of the public on Facebook), in a slightly opportunistic way, he might be willing to indulge me in this fantasy. After all, it's not as if he has anything else to occupy himself with right now what with overseeing the policies of the Western world.
4) I've done something like this before and the formula seemed to work.
5) I would like to raise money for Help for Heroes.
6) I would like a Green Card.
And now here's slightly more waffling explanation:
Fast forward to March 3rd 2009, and Gordon Brown was meeting none other than Barack Wayne* Obama in the White House where during the course of the conversation the latter announced the following:
"Great Britain is one of our closest and strongest allies. There's a link and a bond there that will not break."
"The relationship is not just important to me but is important to the American people"
"It is sustained by a common language, a common culture, our legal system which is directly inherited from the English system and our system of government, reflected in many of these same values. And, by the way, that's also where my mother's side of the family comes from."
The last line is somewhat irrelevant but what it does go to show, at least in the minds of Barack and Gordon, is that there remains a certain intrisic bonhomie between the Yanks and the Brits. Between our respective populations. I for one disagree and I shall tell you why.
E was an American girl and she was in fact the second American that I had dated in my somewhat chequered romantic past that you're not remotely interested in.
You see as a youngster, I wasn't the biggest fan of Americans. I deemed them to be vacuous, unworldly and slightly oafish, particularly in their strange ritual of wearing sandals over socks on the No. 74 from Putney to Baker Street, or the way they used the word 'holler' for 'shout'.
And for that matter, the way they did always seem to be hollering when you'd come across them, say, in the Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse in Picadilly Circus.
I have since grown up, if not mentally, and I now understand that it could be considered imprudent or childish, to condense an opinion about 375 million people into one sweeping polemic. As a result whenever I heard anyone espousing opinions such as "I hate Americans" or "American's are such *insert perjorative term here*.......
This seemed to happen quite frequently when we went out of an evening, particularly if such drunkards at the next table ever heard her speak. I therefore think we've come to a point where, perhaps egged on by the likes of Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Clarkson, there's a great swathe of the British population who don't really have much time for Americans at all.
Well anyway to cut a relatively short story even shorter, from hanging out with E and her friends for several years, I have now come to the decision that personally I love US folk and their shiney-eyed optimism, every single one of them (apart, perhaps, from Bernard Madoff, Charles Manson and a guy called Hector who once threatened me over a poker table in Las Vegas) and that really has been a complete U-turn for me.
I can confirm that they do on the whole get sarcasm and most of them tend to be pretty upbeat, despite what life might throw at them. They just seem to be far more cheerful than us.
Max gets severely grilled
We aren't, as some short-arsed French general (left) once said, a 'nation of shopkeepers' anymore, we seem to be a nation of haters.
So anyway, yes I'm now an Americo-phile and I may even elect to live there one day, marriage permitting. I'm writing my book about the 'Special Relationship' because I want to learn the truth about this oft-bandied cliche.
Is their really a deep-seated bond between the UK and the US and if so, why? Will we always fight shoulder to shoulder on the battlefield no questions asked? Can we always rely on each other for support? Will they side with us in the future Falklands War II? What are the rules of baseball? etc etc
I'm fascinated to know what the average Briton and American think about each others respective countries so please feel free to contact me with your views on the subject by clicking on the tab in the right-hand column.
As for my book, well if I truly want it to be a bestseller and to knock Marian Keyes' next offering about a woman who falls in love with a man who falls in love with her best friend, off the number one spot, I believe that I can do no better than to incorporate some quotes from Mr O himself. That would surely paper over the cracks of my literary shortcomings.
I am determined, in the course of my research, to go straight to the horse's mouth if you will, not, of course, that Barack would be at home leaping over fences around Aintree, and hopefully by sending him a 'flag of friendship' containing the goodwill messages from 100 British movers and shakers, I am unrealistically convincing myself that he will be so taken aback that he'll grant me an audience at the White House to answer my specific questions.
And then hell might freeze over.
*At least I think that's his middle name