Thursday, March 07, 2013

That Odd Moment When Your British Hometown Gets Mentioned In America

I was 8 years old when I first visited the United States on holiday ("vacation", for my American readers). In 1990, my family and I had taken in the wonders of Orlando, FL, where we toured the standard route of Disney World, MGM Studios and Epcot Center.

It was at the latter where a most unexpected and pleasant surprise awaited us. No, not the decidedly American firework display that signified the end of the day, nor the giant "golf ball" that was rumored to be visible from space. Rather, this unique happening took the form of a menu and, more specifically, three words written inside of it: "Fresh Grimsby fish."

We had dined for the evening at an "authentic English restaurant" in Epcot's international area. I forget the place's name, but even at 8-years-old I had the distinct impression that it was playing up to stereotypes. Perhaps I was a sceptical (or "skeptical") child.

Now aside from the absurd notion that said fish would have been in any way fresh, the words "fresh Grimsby fish" were notable largely for the fact that they contained the name of my hometown, which is - it should be said - often unrecognized even by my fellow Brits.

It was one of those slightly unbelievable moments in life. My dad still routinely mentions it to this day, which is probably why I haven't forgotten it.

It wouldn't, though, be the last time that Grimsby was unexpectedly mentioned in America.

Fast forward 23 years to the present day, and Grimsby was referenced prominently this past Wednesday in the Huffington Post and CNN, following Kate Middleton's visit to the town. Naturally, it wasn't the visit itself that the American news media was interested in, but rather the fact that Kate "appeared to let slip" her unborn baby's gender.

The reason didn't matter. The mere fact that an American reporter said aloud the name of the small town I grew up in was enough to bring an incredulous smile to my face.

So as I go about my life in the USA, I hope I continue to be caught off guard every now and then by the sight of the word "Grimsby" in a magazine article or on a billboard. Should this happen, I will, as I did on Wednesday, think back to that warm Florida night in 1990 and order me some fish and chips.




Complete Compendium of Word Differences

4 comments:

CraigP said...

A similar surreal moment occurs in Doctor Who, The Stones of Blood when someone observes that k9 is mechanical. Tom Baker responds, “Yes, they’re all the rage in Trenton, New Jersey.” I’ve never learned how my home town made it into the script.

I love your blog!
Craig

Jada said...

How crazy! My bf is from Grimsby! Even I got excited when I saw the name of the town when I read this. It's definitely quite a conversation when people ask me or him where he's from, and we have to make London as the base point or something. lol

Laurence Brown said...

Wow that's fantastic, Jada. What's your boyfriend's name? I wonder if I know him.

Jada said...

His name is James Stuart. Not the actor! lol

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