It may be cliche, but if there's something we emigres are a little sensitive about, regardless of where we come from, it's the home country. While we may not fall homesick, there's always the institutional haze of nostalgia to count upon, as well as the irresistible hobby of telling everyone who'll listen What Things Are Like Where I Come From.
I like to think that professional matters aside, I'm a pretty easy going person, (the 'professional matters aside' is an all-new qualifier for 2006) but despite that, some things strike to the heart of what I identify as mine about the UK, and I leap to ill-advised and almost certainly overreacting defence.
Take Alias for example. Once upon a time, Little Miss Bristow was sent to steal something from a museum in London. While she carried out most of her mission with ease, the police began to swarm loudly and invisibly in the background. Our valiant CIA agent heroine was freshly landed in a narrow London alleyway when suddenly a 1963 Hillman Imp, one careful lady owner, painted in white and garish orange with a crude POLICE motif and a 'My First Emergency Siren' duct-taped to the top screeched dramatically to a halt, cornering Sidney and facing her with the unpleasant prospect of having to beat up a few Bobbies to escape. Fortunately, the driver was her Dad. Now I know that when heists go awry we all like to see our parents pull up in a fake emergency vehicle and beckon frantically for us to get in, but I would like to think that I would be able, no matter how close the real police, to find the time to take my old man aside and convince him that when it comes to passing muster amongst a fleet of souped-up Vauxhalls and BMWs, the Hillman just isn't going to cut it.
I was outraged that ABC thought that their secondhand banger could look even slightly like a British Police vehicle. After illustrating my shock to Krissa, I made the mistake of texting avid Alias fan Biscuit to complain, and received a suitably and justifiably snarky response.
This is because I was being ridiculous.
It's a TV programme.
Part of it was that I didn't want the leagues of Alias viewers thinking that we were using Hillman Imps to patrol the streets of London. The programme was a sort of authority, and it was wrong.
Minor abuse of the power of TV I can cope with.
The abuse of the might and power of Trivial Pursuit, well, I cannot bear it.
Trivial Pursuit in the Bridgouras household is an occasionally clenched-teeth affair for me, because the questions are, unsurprisingly, America-centric.
There are a hundred years of baseball and basketball and golf and American Football trivia that I cannot even hope to catch up on, mostly because I am not trying in the slightest. If the answer isn't Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, or Babe Ruth, then we can already strike out an entire sixth of the questions. Then we come to questions like, 'Which state was the first to introduce compulsory chemical branding of domesticated marmots?' which then the people at TP-USA have the gall to NOT MAKE A MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTION. The odds are against me, especially as I'm not sure I know all the states.
So I muddle through on guesswork and charm the question-asker, who I am conveniently married to, into giving out clues.
When a rare British-oriented question comes along, I perk up. Here is my arena! Here is the land that I know! Here is our stiff-upper-lipped, white-cliffed, Albionic answer to your Oregonian peroxide-singed rodents!
But no. Let me illustrate with the question in question. This is from the USA Trivial Pursuit 20th Anniversary edition. The category is Innovation and Sciencey Type Things.
What handy devices do Britons call "handies"?
Think about this, Britons. What do we call handies?
I thought for a while, perplexed.
Then I thought for a little longer, getting annoyed.
Then I weakly said
"...tissues?" knowing full well that a tissue isn't a device, but 'Handy Andies' being the closest thing I could think of.
And Krissa read the answer on the back of the card:
For the last three days we have returned home to find our answerphone filled with panicky messages from Seismological Academic Institutions around the world who registered the echoes of my reaction. Bathwater slopped over the edges of tubs as far away as The Bronx. Small children cried. Dogs lost consciousness. Cats pretended not to notice, but only from the security of their fallout shelters.
In short, I was a bit pissed off. This is because, American readers, that question and its answer are what we from the UK refer to as UTTER BOLLOCKS.
Then, when I was calming down, another British question that I didn't know cropped up:
What herb is widely taken in Britain to prevent migraines - fenugreek, feverfew or flaxseed?
Now this one doesn't take a genius to figure out, even if you don't know the answer, but still...what?
Or have I simply been away so long that I've forgotten that Mum used to tuck me up in bed with a Horlicks and a feverfew plant to chew on, while she chatted to her friend on her handy?