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Who wants a full English when you can have American pancakes, waffles and bacon dripping in maple syrup?

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 January 2017

Ellen's picture of her mother under 'The Love Sculpture' in Manhattan

Ellen's picture of her mother under 'The Love Sculpture' in Manhattan

Archant

Last week an American girl came to work in our office, writes working mum-of-three Ellen Widdup.

All the way from Michigan, she is a cheerleading, burger-chomping, ex-model with perfect pearly whites and a twang so strong much of the conversation gets lost in translation.

But gee whizz I like her already. “I didn’t vote for Trump,” she reassured us on her first day as if by way of apology. I suppose she felt she must.

After all, right now is a difficult time to be an American abroad.

Especially in a country like Britain where we haven’t been exactly tactful in letting loose with our sentiments.

We hate their newly-anointed president. We despair of their gun laws. We pour scorn on their policies for health care and parental leave.

We still blame George W Bush for the Iraq War. We are uneasy about Guantanamo Bay. We are outraged by the surly humourlessness of the immigration officials we encounter at their airports.

For many Brits the standard go-to American stereotype is overweight, loud and stupid.

But my new, sassy, super-bright colleague proves otherwise.

And she’s reminded me – in perhaps the darkest of weeks for US politics - of the many reasons to still love The United States.

So unlike the rest of the opinion pieces being written on America today, this one will be on what they do right.

Like breakfast. What’s a full English when you can have pancakes, waffles and bacon dripping in maple syrup followed by steak and eggs sunny-side up?

Or friendship. American dudes have “bromances” and indulge in manly hugs, whereas here in Limey-Land it is only acceptable for blokes to embrace in the midst of a rugby scrum or when the World Cup is on and we have, against logical expectations, managed to score a goal.

And what about the American culture, fashion, food?

The US have a drive-through for everything – Dunkin’ Donuts, liquor stores, wedding chapels.

They gave us hamburgers, hot dogs, margaritas and Frappuccino’s. Book clubs, foam fingers and ponytails through baseball caps. The gifts of Coca Cola, Levi’s and Spanx.

The Ford Mustang, the Mojave Desert, JFK, Cheers, Gone with the Wind, Martin Luther King.

Robert De Niro, Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen, Woodward and Bernstein and Rachel and Ross.

And there’s so much more yet to discover. Ever tried lobster rolls? Honey nut M&Ms? Hershey’s kisses?

I have spent time in some of America’s most diverse and exciting cities and taken in the sights, sounds and smells of its cliff-lined coastline, countryside, forests and deserts.

Every state is different. Like 50 separate countries under one umbrella.

I was 14 the first time I travelled across the Atlantic, touching down in JFK on a brilliant, bright December day with Christmas fast approaching.

Everything about New York entranced me from its famous – now famously scarred – skyline to its yellow cabs, smoking street grates, bright lights and 3,000-calorie breakfasts.

I remember taking a snapshot of my mother under The Love Sculpture on the corner of Sixth Avenue at 55th Street in midtown Manhattan and thinking that the four-letter word summed up my relationship with the city perfectly.

Little did I know that 15 years later I would be honeymooning in a hotel yards from its location.

This was my husband’s first venture across the pond but he, like me, was swept up in New York’s chaotic, colourful reality.

Now, anyone who has ever met my other half will confirm that he couldn’t be any less American – he’s a Northern, flat-cap donning, ale-swilling kind of chap.

He is the type of man who says “’Ow do?” and “ta-ra” rather than “howdy” or “have a nice day”.

But, just like me during my childhood years, he was heavily influenced by American art, music, and literature along with his parent’s love of Dallas.

From the opening credits I can remember sitting there agog that buildings could be so tall, rims of hats could be so wide and heels could be that high.

America continues to influence us both as adults – and our children too.

Some might call it cultural colonisation but the States and the UK have a reciprocal arrangement here.

We gave them The Beatles, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Adele, Bowie, Elton John, Queen and Mick Jagger.

We even gave them their language.

Shame they pulled the “U” out of so many words and insist on injecting a “Zeeee” where an “S” should be.

And, of course, it was us Brits who invented democracy.

Which means that, in a way, we must hold some responsibility for the election of a Commander in Chief who seems hell-bent on shaking the very foundations of his great nation.

It’s not over yet.

The headlines are likely to become even more lurid, the protests and placard waving will spike and America is set to become ever-more isolated.

But don’t despair.

The Home of the Brave still has so much in its favour – culturally, politically and economically.

And nobody – especially this trumped-up excuse for a leader – should stop those of us who still love the home of the star spangled banner from keeping the flag flying.

@EllenWiddup

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