Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pattern Recognition

“Do you think they all know?”
“Well, the natives do I’ll bet!” [translations = Americans]
“You’re right. They always know that sort of thing. All kinds of "pattern recognition." Do you remember Katherine [translation = American sister in law] at the pub quiz, when she rattled off the names of all the States and their respective Capital cities in one sentence without pausing for breath? You could have heard a pin drop. It was like a magic trick!”
“Do I ever?” [translation = of course I remember]
“I was completely gob smacked.” [translation = surprised]
“I did know that it was George Washington on the 25 cents bit, er…..Quarter?" So I’m not that bad.”
“What about Lincoln?”
“Don’t be such a chump! Of course I knew that. Those are two profiles that even I recognize.”
“On the 1 cent?”
“’Penny’ dear!”
“Why don’t they call it a ‘centi’ then?”
“It’s just another one of those obscure little oddities that didn’t manage to get obliterated when they came over with the Pilgrim fathers. A bit like ‘tardy,’ and all that mess with ‘imperial’ measurements.”

“I wonder if they know they short changed themselves by four ounces in every pound?”
“Well they would do if they ever tried to bake a cake using a recipe book from the wrong continent!”
“Why didn’t they keep shillings, florins or crowns? They’re much more interesting than a ‘penny’.”
“I miss the "thrupenny" bit. Now that was a very useful coin. They were always my favourite.”
“You’re a dinosaur. Just because it was your pocket money. [translation = allowance] You couldn’t buy anything with three pennies now, even if you called them cents and allowed for inflation over four decades.”
“Do you know the year’s in which they reigned……held the position of President?”
“Don’t be daft. Why would I know that? "Who would ever need to know that?”"
“Or who followed whom and when?”
“Not a chance, but I think the school curriculum calls for that feat of memory in future years.”
“It was bad enough learning monarchs. Do you remember that "irritating ditty?" I don’t know if I can switch to Presidents?”
“Do you think there are more Presidents to remember than Kings and Queens?”
“Don’t know. They’ve only been at if for a few hundred years, whereas Kings and Queens have been around forever.”
“Hmm, life spans of King and Queens, barring the odd accidental beheading, versus a four year term of office? Sounds like a mathematical nightmare.”

“Not really the sort of ignorance you can admit to in public.”
“Hmm, I this is one [of the many] that you’ll have to keep under your hat.”
“Yes! It’ll be our little secret.”
“Now there’s a plan.”
“They’re a funny mix really?”
“Who are?”
“How do you mean?”
“Well they’re so precise and organized with the Presidents and the like, and yet so slapdash and hazardous with their cake making, their approximate cup measurements.”
“Careful dear, you’re sounding a bi Martha Stewartish. Anyway, ‘a cup’ is a standard measurement now.”
“True, but do you fill the cup to the little line or do you level it off with the back of the knife? There are two strongly opposed camps on that one.”

“How come it’s taken us 12 years to find this out do you suppose?”
“I’m not sure. It took a few moments to check on the computer. Took even longer to identify that it’s Roosevelt on the ten cents piece.”
“It’s still shameful, although I don’t think the children know either. No-one has taught them this at school. Afterall, this is effectively child number three in the Public School system out here, and no-one has ever mentioned that there is a different President on the different denominations.”
“Do you think they forgot, the teachers I mean, or is it just so obvious that everyone absorbs it with their mother’s milk.”
“You tell me!” [translation = how would I know?] I think I prefer a random monarch profile on all denominations.”

“Don’t be such an old stick in the mud.”
“No, it’s just the least line of resistance, not snobbery.”
“On this occasion maybe!”
“We’ll have to teach them now that we know. Should make life a lot easier.”
“So we should probably stop complaining about Green backs all being the same, not like our lovely colourful notes.”
“Probably ought to accept that 'u' is superfluous, and 'z' is often better than 's,' whilst we're at it. I think it would be for the best, admit defeat, confess to the crime of ignorance.”
"That's another thing!"
"What is?"
"How Americans think that you're intelligent because you speak with an English accent."
"Why doesn't a Chinese or a Russian accent make people sound intelligent?"
"Maybe it does if you understand Chinese or Russian."
"Pretty lucky really. Well, lucky for us."
"Just as well we moved over here when we did."

"How come the "older" we get, the more stupid we turn out to be?"
"Again, luck!"
“You know we should probably tell them that.”
“Tell them what?”
“When everyone’s busy beating up Americans, that they should speak up.”
“Speak up about what?”
“Troll out all the States and their Capital city names.”
“Not all American’s can still do that after they’ve left school.”
“True, everyone gets a bit rusty. But just think, next time they’re over on holiday, they could just trot them all out at an opportune moment, when someone’s trashing them for no good reason. Sort of retaliate. Afterall, no Brit is going to bother to count up to 50! They could probably get away with half a dozen and no-one would be any the wiser.”