And Now for Something Completely Different

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As the intensity and pace of the Troppo culture wars over sexuality and schools diminish rapidly (though increasingly people are commenting elsewhere – see Tim Dunlop’s contention that there is no centrist position on the issue recently posted at Road to Surfdom), it’s probably time for something completely different on these pages. This letter may or may not be from John Cleese, but hey, it’s funny anyway.

NOTE: Thanks to Peter Kemp for emailing this to me.

NOTICE OF REVOCATION OF INDEPENDENCE

To the citizens of the United States of America, in the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up revocation in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up aluminium. Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour’, skipping the letter ‘U’ is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter ‘Z’ (pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee’) and the suffix ize will be replaced by the suffix ise. You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh’ is pronounced ‘burra’ e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you can’t cope with correct pronunciation.

Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up vocabulary. Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up interspersed. There will be no more ‘bleeps’ in the Jerry Springer show. If you’re not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn’t have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won’t have to use bad language as often.

2. There is no such thing as “US English”. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of -ize.

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn’t that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney,upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents – Scottish dramas such as Taggart will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we’re talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is Devon. If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become shires e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. British sit-coms such as Men Behaving Badly or Red Dwarf will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can’t cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.

5. You should relearn your original national anthem, God Save The Queen but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

6. You should stop playing American football. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American football is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays American football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the ‘World Series’ for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders,your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls’ game called rounders, which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don’t believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called Indecisive Day.

9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time,you will go metric with immediate effect and conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren’t even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer,and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. The substances formerly known as American Beer will henceforth be referred to as Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine,with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as Weak Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine. This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen,Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.

13. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or Gasoline, as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon- get used to it).

14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.

15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us crazy.

16. Tax collectors from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

Thank you for your co-operation and have a great day.

John Cleese

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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wbb
wbb
2022 years ago

15. lol

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

3. Isn’t there a Duke Of Devonshire?

9. I’d rather have an American car over a German car any day.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

3. Indeed there is.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Owner of Chatsworth:

http://www.chatsworth-house.co.uk/

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“The 11th Duke’s son and heir, Peregrine Andrew Morny Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, (born April 27, 1944), married Amanda Heywood-Lonsdale (born 1944) and lives at Bolton Abbey.”

http://www.wordlookup.net/an/andrew-robert-buxton-cavendish%2c-11th-duke-of-devonshire.html

Peregrine is now the Duke:

http://www.chatsworth-house.co.uk/news/news_the%2011th_duke.htm

Robert Merkel
2022 years ago

Re 9: James, in the US market GM, Ford, and (Daimler)Chrysler are by all reports profitable finance companies who are burdened with a modestly profitable SUV business and a completely unprofitable sideline making cars. Having driven the odd Yank Tank, one can safely say that this shows in the vehicles those sidelines produce.
German cars, by contrast… (hired for a day) BMW Z4’s cruise beautifully on the autobahn at 180 km/h, are great fun to fang through the Alps, and the engine sounds like something out of this world. ;)

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

No chance in the world that John Cleese wrote that.

woodsy
woodsy
2022 years ago

With typical British inefficiency the above was produced in rebuttal of the following;

The Supreme Court of Florida has instructed me to post the following to ensure strict balance in these turbulent times.

DECLARATION OF ANNEXATION OF THE UNITED KINGDOM AS PART OF THE USA

To the imperialist British colonizers.
In the light of your indecision over joining a common European Currency, your dissatisfaction with the European Union, your bickering with European Governments and the fact that you already almost speak our language and refuse to speak any other European languages, you are to be annexed as a State of America. Your state code will be GB. Zip codes will be assigned to replace your old postal districts. The state capital will be Stratford-upon-Avon which is a lot prettier than London. Princess Diana will be declared a saint. You have already assimilated so much American culture that you are unlikely to notice the transition. To aid in the assimilation, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. Look up “aluminum” in any good American Dictionary. Check the spelling and pronunciation guide. We discovered it, we named it, you are mispronouncing it. Learn to live with it. You are, of course welcome to your idiosyncratic and illogical place-names such as Edinburgh, if you wanted it pronounced ‘Eddinburra’ you have spelled it that way in the first place. And as for Lye-cester… You will quit using words such as “fortnight”. The correct term is “a two week period”. You will learn words such as “credenza”, “intern” and “chad”.

2. There is no such thing as “UK English”. UK English is the relic of a defunct colonialist power which attempted to impose British English linguistic superiority on a nation which has a higher number of English speakers.

3. Your film-makers should learn to distinguish the American and Canadian accents. American accents are not limited to redneck drawls or New York accents. Mainland Americans have more than enough accents to cope with in our own country, so all British dramas will now bear subtitles, especially those made in impenetrable dialects such as Scottish, Scouse or Geordie. To make life easier for mainland America, all British films and TV programs must use American vocabulary and accents; Scotch characters will wear plaid, Irish characters will have shamrocks on them, Welsh characters will not be used since we don’t have Welsh Americans, and English characters will wear bowler hats and pinstripes.

4. The British film industry will no longer portray all Americans as cowboys, rednecks, trailer trash or Beverly Hills billionaires. Hollywood will continue to use “Mockney” and “Posh” British accents as this makes it easier for viewers to identify which characters are British. You can have Hugh Grant back. He’s a lousy actor and we don’t want him either. All British films will be made in Hollywood where the weather and scenery are better. Your film industry is already unable to make a halfway-decent film which doesn’t contain a American in the starring role. All American characters should be ‘good guys’.

5. You will learn your new national anthem “The Star Spangled Banner”. It shall be sung every morning at kindergarten, high school, university and your places of work. Your Union Flag will be hung up any damn way we wish so stop bitching about it being upside down. If there was meant to be a right way up you should have made it simpler. All Union flags will be replaced by the Stars and Stripes over a 12 month period of time.

6. You should stop playing soccer and rugby. There is no need to have two games, one of which is confusingly like Football and one of which is called football but patently isn’t real football. If it doesn’t require 45 pounds of padding, it isn’t football. You should also stop playing cricket. Americans can’t understand the rules. If you insist on playing this game which is only played by former British colonies, you will introduce a simplified scoring system, timeouts, colored strips and cheerleaders to make it more interesting. Any match which takes longer than 90 minutes will be declared a draw.

7. In movies, as in real life, we decide who the bad guys are. The bad guys are those guys who don’t do as we tell them. They are also the guys who attract the biggest audiences into movie theaters. You will cease using the word “cinema”. They are “movie theaters”. The snippets of forthcoming films are not “trailers” they are “teasers”.

8. November 5th is no longer a day for fireworks. July 4th is the appropriate fireworks festival. If you want a big fireworks party on November 5th, we will help you to blow up your Houses of Parliament. You won’t be needing them any longer; Disneyland London will be situated there. Hunting with packs of dogs is also banned. Instead, you will go hunting with a pick-up truck, some six-packs of beer, two coonhounds and enough guns and ammo to equip a private militia. There is also no such activity as “caravanning”. It is properly called “camping”. The thing boy scouts do with tents and bedrolls is called “tenting”.

9. Roundabouts will be banned. What is the point of turning left in order to turn right? They are confusing to Americans and are death traps. You will start driving on the right with immediate effect. Most of the world drives on the right already. You will be allowed to turn right on a red light if safe to do so though you must check local county legislation as this is not permitted in all areas.

10. Those things which you call chips are cholesterol-soaked abominations. You will start to eat fries – light fluffy potato in crisp coating. If you want to eat British-style fried potato sticks you will need a certificate from your doctor and good medical insurance. Beer is to be served cold. The warm, flat drink you call beer is properly termed ‘ale’ and the FDA have determined it to be unfit for human consumption. You will also learn the difference between crackers, cookies and biscuits to avoid causing unnecessary confusion to mainland Americans.

11. All inter-personal communications between family members, even if resident in the same house, must be through a lawyer. It is compulsory to sue somebody at least once per year – be inventive. It is compulsory to have therapy three times each week and to recover false memories of your childhood which allow you to sue your parents and/or your therapist. Therapy will take the place of speaking to family members. You will be given compulsory courses on how to become dysfunctional. Name your children with surnames or after interesting medical conditions.

12. You will not have guns. In the eyes of Mainland Americans you are wayward children. Children are not permitted to play with firearms unless they have a legitimate reason to do so, i. e. they plan to gun down the entire population of a small town (self-defense) or slaughter every living creature within a mile radius (hunting).

13. We’ll tell you who killed JFK when you apologize for “Teletubbies”.

Thank you for your time. You can now return to watching bad Australian soap operas.

PS: Regarding WW2: You’re Welcome.

Thank you for your co-operation. You will be assimilated.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

The 11th Duke’s son and heir, Peregrine Andrew Morny Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, (born April 27, 1944), married Amanda Heywood-Lonsdale (born 1944) and lives at Bolton Abbey.”

Lord Hartington is now the 12th Duke. The 11th duke died last year. His widow is Deborah (nee Mitford) sister of Nancy, Diana (Mosley), Jessica, and Unity.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

As I noted, Geoff, with the link to the news of the 11th Duke’s death under the bit you’ve quoted.

Interesting that the Dowager Duchess was a Mitford!

Fyodor
2022 years ago

Yes, fascinating…

WTF! Next you’ll be discussing the lineage of the heir to the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gluecksburg.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Interestingly, Fyodor, the Guardian had an editorial this week suggesting Australia join a new Danish Commonwealth…

toostupid
toostupid
2022 years ago

Awfully sorry to hear of dear potty Peregrines’s passing.

Simply haven’t been keeping up. Have been terribly concerned about old Bunty – been in the whelping box – three days now. Refuses to come out. Awful business.

…..yes, yes … and still smoking endless Cubans. I’m afraid her nipples are quite raw. You see, the pups’ teeth are really quite developed.

Jolly ugly mess all round.

Hold on old boy….. I say Bunty. Want another shot on the old sausage? What.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Good news, [is it Viscount?] Toostupid?

There is a movie of Brideshead Revisited coming out this year. Get your teddies and boaters ready!

Fyodor
2022 years ago

“There is a movie of Brideshead Revisited coming out this year. Get your teddies and boaters ready!”

Jolly hockeysticks.

Mind you, it has Jennifer Connelly in it, so that’s reason enough to see it.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I’m unable to disagree with you on that one, Fyodor!

John Morhall
John Morhall
2022 years ago

The Duke of Devonshire is one of Britain’s largest land owners – big bits of London, and most of the prime bits of Eastbourne where I grew up, or at least accumulated my early years. Volume 1 of William Manchester’s “The Last Lion” gives an interesting account of the activities of the Dukes (Dooks?) and their cronies as the sun set on the Victoria’s Empire.