USA vs UK and Vice-versa


For two nations, one born of the other and sharing a common language, both have so many misconceptions about the other, it is frankly staggering!

Nowhere, as far as I can tell, is the belief in the media’s representation of falsehood more apparent than in this very subject.

It’s also easy to fall into the trap of :
Yellow TeethTSq3
British Politeness

But here’s the thing, we need to start by understanding that the USA is NOT New York City, Florida and the West Coast – it is more to do with all the fantastic bits in between and in that very same breath London has little to do with the rest of the UK… the UK being effectivDSCF0518ely 4 countries and only England is, well… England..
So what of the USA? Well lets start with Europe (which apparently we’re part of) and the differences between each of those many countries which are obviously vast – now look at the USA and see 50 states…. They’re effectively 50 COUNTRIES… all brought together by a single figurehead/symbol… not a King or Queen, but a flag! And that is why the US flag is taken so very seriously.

In its short history the USA has achieved much to be proud of – they put a man on the damn MoonMoon for heavens sake… so while we can go through the history of inventions and compare what we’ve done – they’re doing all right.

So lets look at some of those clichés:

Obesity: The UK wins out here as it has far more clinically obese people than the USA per capita, in fact the US is more full of fitness that the UK ever wasGun-Barrel.

Guns: Well until the banning of handguns in the UK, they weren’t such a big deal here, which is fair considering the UK has been the most warring nation in the
history of humanity. But if you’re under 25, the near mention of a gun will probably frighten you because that’s what the media told you that you should be – BUT…. We have guns and lots of them!! You can legally own a shotgun at any age. You can own a rifle up to .50 calibre in the UK and the UK still manufactures a lot of guns.

Heck I’m a Brit (obviously) and I trained in the use of the following albeit in the military:
L1A1        7.62mm Self Loading Rifle (SLR) UK FN FAL variant,
L85A1/2   5.56mm SA80,
L2A3        9mm Sterling Submachine Gun,
L4A6        7.62mm Light Machine Gun (Bren),
L7A2        7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG/M240),
L9A1        9mm Browning High Power,
L96A1      7.62mm AW Sniper Rifle
2 inch       51mm Mortar
L16A2      81mm Mortar,
L14A1      84mm Carl Gustov Anti Tank Weapon,
Milan Anti Tank Guided Missile System,
M72         LAW 66,
LAW 80
and of course the trusty Bayonet
On top of that, Glock, AR15, 1911, M/PSG1, MP5, G3 and a Ruger or two and I’m not going to list shotguns.

In the USA the media and the NRA would have you all believe it’s about 2nd Amendment Rights and self-defence – well while that all makes for great sound bites, it’s frankly bollocks… A lot of people in urban areas simply do not own firearms, but the rural areas, just like in the UK a lot of people own guns and for good reasons – shit out there can kill you!! From, coyotes (which by the way are not some small dog – they’re big, really big), bears. Snakes, deer, (they have a lot of deer) and frankly the list goes on – and lets not forget just how big the place is, if you’re on a horse that gets spooked by a snake, how are you going to walk back 70 miles across open ground in summer heat or winter snow without dying if that’s how far the horse gallops before collapse? So you may literally have to shoot your horse a long time before you get to that distance…

British Yellow Teeth: I’ve seen worse teeth in the US than the UK and Yellow teeth vs white teeth is about even.

British Politeness: Well for the stereotype that is Downton Abbey and just about any other period drama – NO…. we’re generally rude, swear more than people would like to admit… But once you get to know us – we’re our own kinda awesome.

US Optimism…. Actually that is 100% true!! Only you can build your dream, but here in the UK we are more likely to chastise you for even thinking about it – and that alone has kept us in the dark ages for too long.

Here’s a couple of other things to note

A Bill of rights…. The UK is the only western country without one!
Freedom of speech protected by law – there is no such thing in the UK

How to Piss off a Brit and a Yank in equal measure without fail – and show yourself to be a complete dickhead:
Firstly I blame two movies for this
1, Smokey and the Bandit
2, Mary Poppins!
So how to do it? Simple, try to mimic the accent to the face of someone from the opposite country!! This means several things – you are in some way deficient in manners, and, if we think about it, intellect, humour, and most other things too.
So here’s the golden rule – DON’T  F * * * * * G  DO IT!!!!
Only other point would be to actually ask where someone is from before assuming they’re either English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Australian, South African, Kiwi, American or Canadian!!!

So back to how big is America? Well it’s huge and for the sake of argument we’ll just look at the lower 48 states for a start:
In the middle-ish lower part is a small looking state of Arkansas which looks like this:

A few famous names from Arkansas are Mary Steenburgen, John Grisham, Charles “Sonny” Liston, Billy Bob Thornton, Glen Campbell, Bill Clinton, Gauge, Johnny Cash,  to mention only a very few.

It’s population is 2,915,918 and it may surprise you to note that majority of England and Wales fits inside it! and we have a population of 64,950,131 So irrespective of population, our postage stamp size land mass shows the reality of our significance to the USA.
To make is a little more obvious, here is a map of Europe over laid on the US map and you see my point…

Finally those other two states Hawaii, which is just a small group of islands, no biggy there – but the other one, well that’s behemoth known as Alaska and a good chunk of the lower 48 states fits right inside of it.

Difference in visas and living in each country:
It is far, far easier to get a US Green Card than obtain a UK visa, even for a wife/partner!! And it costs a lot more too.
In fact, when we see politicians claiming “We’re open for business” trust me when I say – we’re not, not without a lot of front money.
In fact, assuming you were not moving from NYC or Palo Alto, you’ll find the UK vastly more expensive!
In the UK shops really do shut early and in the US, they really do stay open longer.

Food…. Oh where to start…
UK food is awesome!! Well the selection of it is. The UK didn’t have an Empire where the sun never set without picking a vast kaleidoscope of cuisine in the process, albeit people visiting the UK just after World war 2 would have found it very bland.

In the UK we do some great food variants – Indian cuisine is something for the most part I don’t think in understood very well in the US, and is now our national dish. Mediterranean and Arabic food, outside of NYC isn’t always easy to find.
BUT there are some thing our cousins do better that us!!

Sonic-Triple-Choc-Master-BlastThe US has a couple of things (or more) that we can’t compete with. Ok, several things actually, firstly lets just give a slight mention to Milk Shake: Not only can you go to a “Sonic Drive-in” and enjoy over 25 flavours of Milk Shake (and over 400,000 drink combinations) with your take out and that’s fine but!!! in the USA one thing is notable about Chocolate milk shake – IT tastes actually like Chocolate!!! Not that weak assed junk we get here in the UK.

Steak : The US does steak at the lowest level as good as ours from the best restaurants – they know steak and frankly we just don’t.
Mexican… You simply cannot find great Mexican food in the UK – it does not exist.

Drinks… When you eat out you are ALWAYS given water when you get to your table in the US… and refills of your soft drinks are free… In the UK you have to ask for water, pay for it and there are no refills – not ever, of any kind or anything. (this may be different for one or two US food outlets here).

So what is good in the UK?
Public transport, while not cheap is effective and you can get most places by bus or train.
The NHS… I know I know – it’s financially the black hole of Calcutta… and it may not be the most cutting edge treatment in the world at any given time. But it is effective, it does work and it will save your life and not even ask for your insurance details in the process.
Heck you can book an appointment with your Doctor twice a day, every day of the week if you wanted (Don’t do that btw)… and you will be seen, treated and sorted out with little cost other than for your prescription.

As a final point in both countries:

We may elect our leaders, but as soon as they’re in power we tend to dislike what they do… So to be judged by what your own government does is not only unfair, but it’s wrong.
I have seen this all over the world and even lost friends because of it (by lost, I mean in one case shot dead).
You, me, I, we are not our governments, we are not as portrayed as the media predicts.
So why do it to each other?!

One last point – Brits beat Americans in their loudness ;)

Please Sign This!!

Hi everyone,

I learned a long time ago never to get into politics, people feel just a little too passionate at times. But in the UK a petition has come up which, while it isn’t important to a great many, and certainly not if you’re not from or in the UK.
But they are changing the Visa rules in the UK which will affect thousands of people, families and loved ones here and around the world. The rule change is that if you’re not earning a minimum of £35,000 you cannot stay unless you’re from the EU.
Now, this is where I do have a problem… I believe that the UK has greater allegiances before Europe, these are to English speaking nations, then nations of the Commonwealth and finally the EU.
I mean no offence by this and I have no issues with race, colour, religion or sexuality, I respect all. I also believe that in the 21st century we should be one global people, but hey….
But this targets people who are here legitimately, who work, pay taxes and contribute in the welfare and well-being of the country.
My partner, spouse, better half Gabby aka Gabsatrucker is a US Citizen and the impact of this is huge – in a country that demanded proof of £68k in the bank to get a visa in the first place…  I think our system is wrong, and this is the final nail to this coffin.
So, if you are reading this, please take a moment to sign this online, I would truly appreciate this.  Click on the image.


Published in: on 17 January, 2016 at 03:35  Leave a Comment  
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Gibson Guitars Factory Tour

So the other day I finally went to Memphis… but more importantly for me, I went to Gibson Guitars for a tour of their factory. I had already phoned Gibson before Christmas and talked to them and decided to go when the factory restarted production in the New Year.

I’ve had a lot of questions for Gibson for a number of years, especially regarding build and play quality of the Les Paul guitars made in the early 2000’s. On arrival we entered the vast empty reception and then the shop. We looked about and then enquired about the factory tour. Moments later and $10 lighter for each of us and the tour was booked and would happen on the hour. So I spoke to a female assistant and asked her questions about the Gibson Dark Fire which is basically a robotic guitar that tunes itself in any pitch you like etc. She was amazingly informative, really, and thoroughly knew her stuff. In fact I asked her dozens of questions for which she answered all of them in depth. She also invited me to play anything they had and to feel free to try all I liked… (you don’t hear that every day) I was frankly starting to feel impressed… On the question of setup and overall quality she informed me they now use a thing called a “Plek” machine that traces the fret board and grinds the frets and the “nut” to the optimum height and “action” (the distance of the strings from the fret board). So the bottom line is: if you’re buying a new Gibson – make sure it has a “Plek’d” sticker on it. Before the tour we had to sign disclaimers to enter the factory floor, wear safety glasses and get told that absolutely no cameras are allowed and mobile phones etc. The mobile phones thing was because 90% of phones can take pics.. But this is where I started having a trouble with the tour!! We were then taken through to a long windowless corridor where, upon the wall hung loads of guitars, one of which was a hand signed version of BB King’s “Lucille”. It was here we stopped for our tour guide to explain the very basics of guitar types, their respective parts… Obviously we weren’t in any sensitive area, so why no pics of these great guitars? Now, don’t get me wrong here, you don’t want flash photography around moving machinery… but nothing of what we were about to see was anything near what you can actually see on YouTube!! In fact I’ll go further… there was only one person working in the factory putting on machine heads… So what in god’s name is so secret to prevent photography? Why do I say this? Well, I do understand when they’re working with new technology’s that they wouldn’t want others to see… And it’s kinda cool to hear over and over again “we invented (or) did this/that first”  – but how the hell would anyone know if you wont let them take a pic?? But the reason I will say it is this – I live 5000 miles away.. I got more information, images and background info watching YouTube!!! I didn’t see shit being made!! I didn’t get to touch, hold, have shown how or experience fk-ALL!! THEN while the guy showing us around kept holding up things and guitar parts and waving them slowly past us – he took time out to do the same with an 8” grounding wire!! And for $10 each we all stood there like frigging morons as he took his time to show each and every one of us an 8 inch bit of wire!! I just thought ”this has got to be the ‘in’ factory joke” I even mentioned this to others there… The guide’s “patter” was perfect… then he suddenly turned and said “that concludes the tour, any questions?” which is ok for a 30 minute stroll – but then said nothing. We all looked at him blankly… I eventually asked where the hard shell cases are made – the answer was simply “in Canada”… Then more silence.. it was actually uncomfortable..

Gibson, for what you charge for guitars etc, there are thousands of things you can do to improve this tour – heck I didn’t even know it was for hollow-bodies only until we started the tour…

The lady in the Shop was totally awesome, the tour was dire. I’m not taking anything from the fact Gibson make some of the finest guitars in the world, if it has the Gibson name on it, it’s exclusive made in the USA and over 60% of everything they make is exported globally and that is testament to their craftmanship, put another way – if you listen to or play music of any type, you’ve heard of and know who Gibson is. But there was an air of real disappointment with the tour  – so word up if you’re a Gibson fan, I’ll save you the time, air fare, patronization and disappointment… here is a video that will show you much, much more than anything a Gibson tour will show you. You won’t have to wear goggles, sign disclaimers, you can smoke, eat, drink and take all the pictures you like…

I think I’ll head to Taylor

World Famous and of Austin’s Modern Heritage

If I haven’t mentioned it before, Austin probably has the most diverse music history in the world… Yes, I will hear people cry “Oh what about New Orleans, London, Memphis etc… but frankly, some incredible people have emerged from this, the most diverse and cosmopolitan and capital city of Texas… It’s was after all the whole reason for the now globally famous South by South West (SXSW). But seriously though, no city I know of celebrates it’s musical origins as much as Austin.

So why do I mention this, I’m not talking about the bars, nightlife – so… what? Well Austin through the years and decades has not only had incredible artists and clubs where they cut their teeth, but it has some pretty amazing people behind the scenes too… But Austin is musically vast in its diversity, from hip-hop through to its popular and gritty Indie scene. There are just so many bands and individuals who come here to make their mark – and they do. And like with all bases of great live music, it has its own “in” scene of the time – yet Austin caters for nearly all scenes at once. Even today while many can talk about the explosive Blues scene of the 70’s and 80’s, you really don’t need to walk too far to hear those dulcet tones that are so familiar even to those do not follow it.

I have already mentioned Stevie Ray Vaughan, yet I didn’t mention his brother Jimmie Vaughan, an outstanding and highly accomplished blues player in his own right, with a very discerning style too, both of whom cut their teeth here. But you know “that” guitar… the one Fender spent a fortune on replicating for an initial rrp of $8000 and created a whole collectors dream guitar that you simply will not obtain for less than 10’s of thousands of dollars… Well Stevie Ray Vaughan bought the original guitar from a now very famous guitar shop in South Austin… Ray Hennig’s “Heart of Texas Music”… and today Ray Hennig and his family are still crucial suppliers to the entire music scene in Austin – irrespective of genre or taste. Even a Wikipedia quoted Ray on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar purchase:

“ When he came in, like every other day, we had a long row of guitars and he wouldn’t take them off the hook. He’d simply walk down and feel them and look at them and move on to the next one. He stood there and looked at that old thing and I thought, oh no. Then he reached down and felt it, just like he did always. And then he took it off the hook, hitting some licks on it. He said, ‘Ray, where’d you get this?’ I said, ‘Stevie, you have got to have picked the biggest junker on the wall.’ ” —Ray Hennig,

Well today, before leaving Austin, I made my way to the “Heart of Texas” and met both Ray and Mary who are frankly the most outstanding, friendly and helpful people you could ever dream of meeting. Mary took time to talk to us and we talked about the UK and their own travels across the UK and Europe – and of course, had a great dig at the Fr**ch :-)

Now you only have to glance at the walls at this place to see the history enshrouded here, the place where the people we’ve all heard of go to get guitars, guitars setup and all manner of other things. Yet this isn’t a used up “has-been” place! Many of the pictures are new and some have surprising faces on them too. But the importance of this shop, the passion of the owners has been instrumental in quality and excellence of not only many famous artists, but the actual sound that has adorned all of our ears at some point.

Today, as we entered we were greeted by the frankly stunning Mary Hennig who took time to talk to us and explained much while towards the rear of the shop Ray was working hard on an acoustic guitar and doing what he does best.

It was a breath of fresh air to finally meet these two wonderful people who had a lifetimes experience and knowledge of the true Austin music scene, unlike rumour, reading stuff on the web etc. and to talk guitar tech in the form of the next generation of Hennig’s – Shane.

Sadly the site the shop presently occupies and has become famous because of it – is to be bulldozed and rebuilt by the owners of the land where it now stands. While this maybe a new beginning opportunity for the Heart of Texas Music – it is frankly the most wrongful destruction of a significantly historical landmark that has served, supported not only the musicians, live music scene and artists that have become household names – but has made a real impact the overall history of Austin and US wide music history… Hey put it another way, I live 5000 miles away and I know of this place and I normally haunt Denmark Street (UK’s Tin Pan Alley) in London.

It’s also strange that as a teenager I had my idols, but ever since becoming a musician of sorts (not a very good one I hasten to add) and even from the early days of working in a studio in Sheffield, I rarely consider the term “fan”, in fact I tend to look at other musicians as peers of the passion I guess, if they make something of it for themselves, then good for them – it’s often only in their demise we truly acknowledge their greatness! Yet without The Heart of Texas – where would they have been…

I hope to spend more time in Austin in 2012 and the coming years, and I would love to one day hear the stories of these wonderful people.

But if you have time to visit – DO!! Yes, tell them of TWBrit, and please – thank them for what they bring to the industry and to Austin (and buy something of course)

To Ray and Mary, thank you for your time and I hope I see you all again sometime in the future… Oh and the reason I had my back to the 60th Anniversary Telecaster – because I wanted it of course and I’d have looked at it any longer I’d have bought it :-)

The Heart of Texas Music website


The Road Trip

So, onwards to the present day and yes, it’s obvious from previous posts that I’ve jumped the gun a little. After a saunter down from Roswell and having a fleeting look at Holloman AFB, we headed to Las Cruces to crash for the night. Sadly the actual Trinity Site is only accessible twice a year, but that’s not to say I didn’t get to play with some interesting hardware before we headed south. So at first light we headed back over the mountain range and headed towards the White Sands Missile Range…

Initially we were told that the Museum was shut and only the Missile Park was open, but it was soon obvious that the whole site was open. First stop was the dubious origins of the Space Program and the tech that made modern missiles technology a reality – the Nazi V2 rocket!! Indeed, at the end of the war both British and US military’s took many of the V1 and V2 rockets home to play with, not to mention the scientist teams that built them.

Then it was onto the Trinity equipment… that’s when I noticed strange things happening to the camera screen, as though slightly darkened bars were on it – It’s fair to say that some of this equipment still glows a bit.

Outside in the missile park there was everything from a TOW missile, Patriot and this sucker… Yes, that is me – stood leaning against the bottom of this Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile…

Back on the road and with all the other driving done already, we headed south for Austin – around 700+ miles for the whole day. At El Paso I had no idea that the Mexican border ran along the freeway and the thousands of huts on the right was indeed a Mexican shanty city. But we did take time out to soak up the 80f sunshine outside a Starbucks..

Moving on through some stunning countryside (and Tarantula habitat) we pulled off at a mainly dead town of Fort(shitsville)Stockton for food which was frankly a mistake. Stopping at a Sonic we went to the restrooms which are behind the kitchens and had to navigate past two piles of vomit to enter – only to see the state of the kitchens… we left in favour of a DQ – which was only mildly better.

Passing miles and miles of wind farms which Texas has lots of and are vast!! We finally pulled off the i10 and headed towards Fredericksburg which turned out to be totally stunning and probably the quaintest town I’ve seen yet in the USA. As we rolled into town it was already dark, but nothing prepared us for the Christmas lights and oldie worldly feel of Main Street.

Stopping to grab McD’s coffee we headed out of town… only for @Gabsatrucker (the Driva) to happen upon a speed exceeding the local speed limit of 50mph… As we approached a speed to allow us to cover 2 miles per minute – a car on the opposite side of the road lit up it’s roof and the pursuit started… all 300 yards of it ;-)

The officer was frankly a decent personable guy and asked for the licence and registration and asked where we were coming from and going to etc. This provoked a little natter and moments later he returned, wished us a Happy New Year and left… That’s it.. :-)

With that I relaxed in the full knowledge that @Gabsatrucker is a full blooded, hellraising, lawbreaking, get away with anything – Criminal ;-)

All in all I was in Austin and settled in for 23:50 just in time to watch the New Year in and enjoy the fireworks that erupted in just about every direction you could see…

Next time….. Austin!!

Ahhhh the interesting things in New Mexico

This will be brief so I will come back to it all – anyway… so there I was on the accompanied road trip of sorts, when last night we crossed the border of Texas into New Mexico… and promptly saw the lights on the horizon 44 miles prior to reaching this town everyone has heard of. 30 minutes later and we roll into town with mysterious green glows that seem to emanate from everywhere on Main Street…

This is Roswell, home of a reported UFO crash in 1947 and has welcomed every tourist, nut job, geek, hippy and serious researcher ever since. While formal signs will point out that Roswell is the Dairy Capitol of New Mexico, little in the way of lactacious teat pulling is evident… but what is – is this amazing amount of “buy anything with an alien on it”…

It’s fair to say that while it’s fairly obvious something did happen near Roswell, the whole thing has been fairly well lost in the whole touristic quirkiness of the place… This however did not stop me buying a couple of t’shirts and a mug for Fenny – a blue mug strangely.

Onwards and into outlaw country… and the home of Billy The Kid… Driving down Highway 70 (Billy The Kid Byway) aka it’s not hard to see why this landscape favoured the outlaws of the day. Access to the Mexican border and a landscape so easy to hide in it’s kinda obvious. After stopping to read several Historic Markers we pulled over in Ruidoso Downs and the Billy the Kid Byway Visitors Centre to broaden our knowledge considerably.

Then on, on to Tularosa and a food stop of @Gabsatrucker’s (the Driver)  choice and one where only locals stop… to all intents and purposes the place was a shack and I (the Navi-gatorrr and road trip resident legendary bloke) indulged in @Eric_McWhirter’s  food of choice i.e. anything with a Green Chilli in it…  I swear, that man is trying to kill me!! So I did as the locals do – gained a sweaty tan real quick :-/

On again and a slow drive past Holloman AFB, home of the F22 Raptor and F117a  and then to the place I will visit tomorrow….

 Hmmm………….. A Gift Shop…. :-)

As the Sun Go Down

Yep, as the sun started to give up on the day, slightly later than a week ago as we have now passed Winter Solstice and I head west bound for Dallas… I’ve been somewhat bemused at how people effectively “don’t” over take here, they just sit there doing the same speed as the cars in other lanes. This I would find exceptionally irritating as both a car driver and former trucker… But for my US trucking friends, they live with this all the time and I take my hat off to their endurance ;-) Finally the sun dropped off the horizon and the miles dragged slowly by at 90. The thing about this road trip is that it’s a fast hit on key or interesting places, it’s not a full road trip in so much we’re not taking the old highways like Route 66 etc… I’ll come back later for that.

Dallas looks awesome at night and frankly while there is some thing I wish to see here tomorrow and will post about that later, there was one place I has grab a quick look at – even in the dark and at night… I’ll let you work it out – but a lot of lurking was done on my part ;-)

Published in: on 29 December, 2011 at 08:14  Leave a Comment  
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