2PM Saturday 29 November 2014 Nunhead Heights
[I ‘ll cover this at the Leiecster Square Theatre Sunday but will try to make it funny. I want you to see me.]
An American might think that the British celebrate Thanksgiving.
The British, after all, came up with most of the holidays America celebrate, though they didn’t do much with them themselves. Think of Christmas and Halloween in Britain vs. America.
They would be wrong. The British don’t do Thanksgiving at all.
The Pilgrims came to American to find something, freedom or money or just wanted not to be persecuted. I am not up on the history of that but when the Pilgrims got something they were happy and thanked The Lord.
Pretty much every other immigrant who came to the States wanted more than what they had in their home country – that is why they left their country. Successful people didn’t risk life and limb to come to America. Generally, most immigrants did better in American than they were doing in the home country.
The American Dream – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – is about openly wanting more and is ingrained in American history and in the American psyche. That is why Americans can be thankful.
In the UK there is a saying which I’ve never heard in America: “I want doesn’t get.” or “I want never gets.” It is basically saying to the child: Give up hope. Do not want.
Think of what happened to Oliver Twist when he asked for “More, Sir”. He got NOTHING and was sent out on his butt into the hands of Fagin.
Now the British will say the “I want doesn’t get” thing is just a way to get the child to say “please” but that is only partly true .
The British aren’t allowed to openly want.
BBC Apprentice contestants are mostly laughingstocks to the nation for expressing ambition. The format in the Apprentice UK is to hate the characters who are ambitious. The people who are liked on the show are the aloof ones who don’t try and say funny stuff. It is amazing their prospective boss/business partner Lord Sugar picks even one of them the way all are either demonized or clownified.
If you have ever seen British children in a playground, and I have because I had two children grow up in Southeast London, you will know what I mean.
You see British children waiting quietly by the swings pretending to do something else but keeping an eye on it for their turn. That’s just intense fear of being told “you pushed in!” Even saying “I’m next!” is verboten. Everything is done to avoid the sense they expected or desired more than what was fair. And if someone pushes in they would just be given the British Glare of Death.
Fairness. They just want fairness. There is a belief here in the UK that everyone should get what they deserve. Nothing more and nothing less.. And you don’t need to be thankful for attaining fairness.
The role model of this is the Royal Family who have been anointed by God, himself. I can’t imagine the Queen thanking God that he has made her Queen. She either deserves it or not. And if she is Queen, she must surely deserve it. She will never admit to wanting to be Queen. Her motto is “God and my right”.
The same goes for her lowliest of subjects who believe they have a right to a council flat or free medical care. Their motto is “I know my rights”. Every Brit is a union member in their heart, knowing exactly how many widgets they are expected to make each day at the factory – or more realistically, how many calls they are expected to take at the call centre.
A person has to want something, and then receive that something, in order to be thankful. Why celebrate if you expected to get it all along?
And if you celebrate good fortune in the UK, well, bad things can happen. Your neighbours get jealous and you will lose your friends. The authorities and the press will start investigating, wondering how you got what you got… it is best to keep it all quiet.
Sure, the Brits want more than they have, like everyone, but it would be very un-British to openly ask for it, and even more un-British to celebrate getting it. They are either not thankful, or too embarrassed to express thankfulness.
That is why the British don’t have a day of thanks.
Come see me at the Museum of Comedy this December 2015 with my show Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, £10.