It is not everyday that I remind myself of my American heritage. On most days it is quite the opposite. I hide under the veil of anonymity, until my accent belies the undeniable. When questioned I utter something about not being here on any expat package, and then proclaim to be a political asylum seeker. Which usually works. They either think I am barking mad or serious; neither being very appealing and I am left in peace.
That is, until the Fourth of July rolls around and Americans again become a subject (pun much intended), of ridicule or revere, often hard to tell with the English. Intent on making you feel at home, they issue many genuine happy Fourth of July wishes. It is all very kind and well meaning, but you can't help but wonder if they think it is as big as Christmas or Thanksgiving. The latter, by the way, the English have some confused notion is more important than Christmas in America. Probably because they quite understandably can't imagine Americans putting anything, even the birth of Christ, ahead of gluttony.
But what the English and others don't realise is that every time they refer to the US as the quaint sounding 'America' they are also indirectly saying happy independence. To Americans, the term 'America' conjures up images of pilgrims, the Mayflower, and colonial revolt. Americans rarely say 'America' anymore, outside of national songs. I imagine in an act of repatriation after the Civil War that the term 'America' was substituted for the United States which, unfortunately, conjures up less puritanical images.
And so here we are on 'America's' birthday, and I can feel a faint pang of nationalism. What am I saying, that is a lie, those pangs are just from nicotine withdrawal. Yes even after 10 months, don't believe Alan Carr.
For those with real pangs, a few ideas for this evening:
check out James Brown in concert tonight at the Tower Bridge Musical Festival, Tower of London, starts 8PM. Because the Godfather of Soul is 'so good, so good'. Prices £35-65, www.towermusicfestival.co.uk
or head to the Big Easy, the official nickname of the big party town New Orleans, at 332-334 King Road, Chelsea. Informal but authentic (read gigantic) American portions of seafood, steak, and barbeque. The Surf & Turf is excellent and comes with delicious garlic prawns. Add a couple of ice cold Coronas with lime and you can't go wrong. And at night there is country and blues music after 10 PM which gets the place going. But we like a bit of a swing.
So does Prince William apparently, they say he visits often.
Average cost £24/per person