Thursday, December 18, 2003

Okay first of all, Happy Birthday Pol. After reaching 30 years meself, I know it's impolitic to ask how many candles there are on the cake, so let's just say we owe you a few ales.

In completely unrelated stuff, I finally found the letter to Bill Bryson the other day. It's been in my possession for about 5 years, and I still think it's one of the funniest things I've ever read (particularly if you've ever been to Harrow-on-the-Hill). I think it was originally published in Loaded or FHM, and was written by one Kevin Brooks of Manningtree in Essex. So here it is in all its glory:

Dear Bill Bryson,
I'm glad that you've fucked off back to America. You never had a clue what it was al about, did you? This country, this small island, it took you for a ride, baby. You, with your stupid fat face and your woolly-clad potbelly, your twatty beard, and your speccy little glasses, your student hair adn simpering limp grin - this country licked its lips, wiped its grubby hands and took you to the cleaners.
Yeah, yeah, you sold about a million books. So what? It only goes to show what a bunch of morons we are, we buy your damn books for the same reason we watch all that crap on TV, so we can kid ourselves that England's a nice place to live - wacky, humble, friendly, fundamentally decent.
Bollocks. I'll tell you what England's like, Bill. England's a small town. The high street is full of crap shops. It's got drunk buskers, buskers with flutes who think they can play the blues but can't, a madman with matted hair who shouts at cars; hundreds of teenagers with one pitiful haircut between them; 12-year-old girls dressed like whores; hard men, fat women, thin women with pushchairs the size of trucks, crazy little men in tight t-shirts who walk too fast, knobs with golfing umbrellas, and one or two bewildered-looking people who just want to go home.
There are four banks, a couple of building societies, a McDonald's, a Pizza Hut, a Burger King and a Kentucky Fried Chicken. A shoe repair/key-cutting place run by disfigured halfwits, half-a-dozen estate agents full of pasty young men in nasty suits and one dozy girl wearing a see-through blouse trying to put something into a filing cabinet. The pubs in the high street are dark and scary and full of stooped, simian nightmares. Outside the deadness of the Hippodrome, redneck minicab drivers hang around the open boot of a pale blue Sierra hawking and coughing, smoking fags and laughing loudly.
There's your town, Bill. It's the same as the US, only 40 years too late. We've taken the scrag-end of all the stuff you started in the Fifties and well and truly finished it - service with a tattooed smile, idiot language, corporate violence, bad TV, bad music, bad films, bad manners, dumb politics, blame-culture, car-culture, no culture, no style, no class, no insight, no idea.
Wondrous, you call it, Bill. Yeah? You reckon? Let's see what we really have here: watches that beep, fruit with stickers on, chimpanzees wearing clothes, local radio, crass technology, disposable babies, beef jokes, poof jokes, Paki jokes, sex jokes, divine celebrity, Crimewatch UK, mock history, lager, unread bestsellers, limp bread, weak coffee, sick charity, diseased toilets, proud ignorance.
That's England. You wouldn't know what to do if it jumped up and bit you in the bollocks.
Kevin Brooks,



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