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Friday 25 September 2015

Brit writes like Brit

Recently bought Volvo 122S with daughter, now Professional Bleeder, then aged seven

Working in publishing in the USA, 1966 - 1972 I wrote regularly to my mother. In the previous extract (Pennsylvania: The Jobs Market) I mentioned intrigues about head hunting. This later reflection is I'm sorry to say, insufferably smug.

September 4, 1966. The economic news from England seems very depressing and makes me feel guilty of being accused of getting out while the going was good.

Here, of course, I am complimented for my prescience; (saying) I came here through curiosity frequently raises (incredulous) laughter... Americans are not to blame in taking this attitude, there are lots of English people who have come here purely for the money.

I hope I can say that for me the added salary is a pleasurable sideline though I am not refusing my chances to increase it. (Did I say say insufferable smugness? How about unbearable?)

L has predicted that after two or three years here (salary rises will make it) impossible to leave. He is wrong but one thing irks me. When I apply for a job in England I'll bet that employers, apprised of my US salary, will smile smugly and say, "Ah, well, money isn't everything.", as if money was all the US could offer, and as if there was an inevitability about living in England for anyone with integrity. (Uggh, you pompous bastard.)

Writing to the UK forced explanations:

Tomorrow is Labor Day which, paradoxically enough, is a holiday. We plan to Volvo off down the Ohio river towards the town of Marietta; the scenery is claimed to be pleasant. (That’s called damning with faint praise.)


If I have ceased to mention the weather... it hasn’t changed at all. Last week the daily high was 85 deg. Rain brings little relief.


  1. Sounds like you were enjoying yourself, RR. You had reasons to be smug.

  2. Avus: I did enjoy myself. Some folk climb Everest for adventure, wrestle piranhas, write to The Times, dismantle Velocettes. This was my take on the word - to see if I could earn a living in a foreign country, the advantage being all the family were able to participate.

    I would dispute your second sentence. Smugness is almost never forgivable. And Brits, in my opinion, do it best (worst?)

  3. Smug original definition:
    "mid 16th century (originally in the sense ‘neat, spruce’): from Low German smuk ‘pretty’.

    but it has become corrupted over time, I guess.

  4. Avus: Just in case you should be left in any doubt: "having or showing the annoying quality of people who feel very pleased or satisfied with their abilities, achievements, etc."