Oh, Britain, thanks for your letter. Where would we be without you? We adore you.
We adore the small things, like a packet of McVities (preferably chocolate covered) and the huge (the white cliffs of Dover).
We adore the ancient groves on Hampstead Heath, the rugged coast of Cornwall, the chocolate-box villages of the Cotswolds and lunch beside Lake Ullswater. We love Brighton Pier, the surreal spell of Portmeirion and the spires of Edinburgh Old Town.
We would feel far less sexy and in touch without Helen Mirren blazing the trail for the over-50s
We adore cricket and Pimm’s Cups on a summer’s day and mulled wine and mince pies on Boxing Day, and the River Thames on any day. We are beyond fond of the way you make preparing and drinking a cup of tea into a life-affirming ritual.
We love your cosy pubs that for centuries have served ale hand-pumped out of casks, crumbly Stilton and Cornish pasties. And stodgy puddings. We adore stodgy puddings!
While we’re at it, we have a thing for words like ‘stodgy’ and ‘dodgy’, not to mention your accents.
We love your age, your history, your traditions. And yes, we love the Queen, the royal weddings, the royal visits, the royal carriages, the royal product endorsements. For all of our pride in throwing off the yoke of monarchy, we adore the pomp and the circumstance (and those hats!). Twice, we got up at 3am in Los Angeles to watch the royal wedding, and we will never regret it. We even love your bagpipes.
Speaking of weddings, as embarrassed as we are to admit it, our entire view of romance, friendship and weddings themselves was forever altered by Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Rain and wellies
We might love Palm Springs and Miami Beach, but we adore your atmospheric rain, in which we can walk in our wellies (care of you) and our Barbour coats (ditto) and imagine ourselves to be Elizabeth Bennets hoping to meet our very own Colin Firths (though we’d settle for any of the Bond, James Bonds).
What would our childhoods have been without Oliver and Scrooge and Narnia and Lassie coming home? In the Seventies, what would our teen years have been without Middle-Earth and the Ministry of Silly Walks? Or Merchant/Ivory, or Jeremy Irons and Anthony Edwards in Brideshead Revisited in the Eighties? Edina and Patsy in the Nineties? All very British, so very different from our home-grown staples. Yet as teens and 20- and 30-somethings, we loved them as much as you.
Every Sunday we waited for Alistair Cook to explain what delights awaited us on Masterpiece Theatre. There was Upstairs Downstairs, Jane Austen galore and now, of course (sadly sans Cook), Downton Abbey.
We continue to share stories across the pond. Our children, like yours, have grown up with Harry Potter. We are grateful that your accomplished actors share their talents with us. We would feel far less sexy and in touch without Helen Mirren blazing the trail for the over-50s. And your directors! We’d be smaller, more shallow people without the work of Mike Leigh.
From Carnaby Street and the Beatles to Alexander McQueen, you’ve taught us how to dress with flair. And, speaking of the Beatles, there are the Beatles. And the Stones. And the Clash and all of glorious punk and Elvis Costello and David Bowie and even Duran Duran. And more, always more.
Grace under fire
But our relationship isn’t all about style and culture and nostalgia. You taught us about grace and dignity under fire. We adore your stiff upper lip, your “keep calm and carry on”. It helped us get through 9/11, and the days that followed. We’d rather not have had a better sense of what it was like to be around during the Blitz, but knowing you got through that helped us a great deal.
In July 2005, we stayed up all night listening to the BBC World Service, crying for the victims of the London bombings, wishing we could help. Wishing that all of us lived in a safer world.
We are together in this world more than ever. We have lived abroad and studied at each other’s universities and are Facebook friends. We see photos of our friends’ converted barns in Yorkshire as we stare out at the Pacific. We drink PG Tips in our NYC walk-ups and our homes in the Hamptons. We can Skype and text and Facebook and Tweet and ring and email, not to mention actually visit. You are not as far away as you once were.
We are part of the same global economy, chugging along toward an uncertain future. What is certain is that Monty Python will always make us laugh, royal weddings will always make us cry, and we will always love you. We look forward to growing old with you, dear Britain. But in the meanwhile, we both have a lot to do…