Deo volente, when you read this I shall have arrived in North America in an attempt to find out what Americans are really like. Hitherto, of course, my knowledge of them, while extensive, has been totally derivative and mostly literary.
As a small boy, I read the Greyfriars School books ... about William George Bunter and his classmates in the Remove. In those happy pages I met the sole American in the school, Fisher T Fish (I believe the T stood for Tarleton). He was a loan shark. I don't quite recall whether his father was a partner in Lehmann Brothers.
When I came to man's estate, I read in Zuleika Dobson of Oover, the American undergraduate member of the Junta, who waxed eloquently for page after page in defence of the simple and laconic colonial manners of himself and his countrymen. The turgidity of his rhetoric was protoObamaesque.
Then I fell victim to New Media and I hired a Television for the children on winter afternoons. We watched The Dukes of Hazard; nothing, in fact, about aristocratic gamblers but a lot about a typical, wholesome, North American community. I remember a couple of good-looking and wholesome young men, their wholesome car, and a girl with a couple of (invariably unclad) wholesome legs; but what particularly mesmerised me was the figure of Boss Hogg, the local politico, who had all the verve and charm and wholesome integrity of the Kennedy family. I believe he wore a white leather suit.
Of such is my imagining of Americans and their mores composed. Shall I be disappointed when I meet the real thing? Future posts may reveal ...