Notes from a Big Country
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
From perfectly formed potatoes to adulterous US presidents, and from domestic upsets to millennial fever, Bill Bryson just cannot resist airing his opinions and standing up for his (mostly) law-abiding fellow American citizens. But of course after twenty years in England, he is now back on the other side of the pond, and is obviously having a little trouble finding his true American self again. After vigorous exercise on the Appalachian Trail comes this edited collection of Bryson's most splenetic comic pieces culled from his humorous regular column in the Mail on Sunday.
other quarter of the house to embark on the thousand other household tasks that greeted her each evening. In consequence she nearly always forgot about dinner until a point slightly beyond way too late. As a rule you knew it was time to eat when you could hear potatoes exploding in the oven. We didn’t call it the kitchen in our house. We called it the Burns Unit. ‘It’s a bit burned,’ my mother would say apologetically at every meal, presenting you with a piece of meat that looked like something
Norse ves heil, it means ‘in good health’. In Anglo-Saxon times, according to Crippen, it was customary for someone offering a drink to say ‘Wassail!’ and for the recipient to respond ‘Drinkhail!’ and for the participants to repeat the exercise until comfortably horizontal. It is clear from Crippen’s tome that in 1923 this and many other ancient and agreeable Christmas customs were still commonly encountered in Britain. Now, alas, they appear to be gone for good. Even so, Christmas in Britain
unsettling because it is essentially just one endlessly repeated scene. Every bend in the path presents a prospect indistinguishable from every other, and it remains like that no matter how far you go. If you somehow lost the path, you could easily find yourself – very probably would find yourself – helplessly bereft of bearings. You could walk to the point of exhaustion before realizing that your route described a large and sadly pointless circle. Knowing this, it’s much less surprising to
collection of fifty small independent nations, and you forget this at your peril. It all goes back to the setting up of a federal government after the War of Independence when the former colonies didn’t trust each other. In order to keep them happy, the states were given an extraordinary range of powers. Even now each state controls all kinds of matters to do with your personal life – where, when and at what age you can legally drink; whether you may carry a concealed weapon, own fireworks, or
downtown San Diego, crushing buses and destroying petrol stations, and then – suddenly, inexplicably – is in the middle of a heavily slumbering suburban neighbourhood, alone and unobserved. Now does it strike you as remotely likely that a prehistoric, 20-foot-high creature not seen on earth for 65 million years could cause mayhem in a city centre and then slip off into a residential zone without anyone’s noticing? Does it not seem a trifle nagging and unsatisfactory that while downtown San Diego