Pine Nuts: We’ve got to love them Brits |

Pine Nuts: We’ve got to love them Brits

The United Kingdom has long been like a loving mother to us. Back in Ben Franklin’s day Mother England helped us to grow our scrawny population by sending us a few boatloads of hearty convicts. Franklin suggested, in his infinite wisdom, that we return the favor, and send her back a boatload of rattlesnakes. The fog of London should tame them and turn them into excellent pets.

Having run away from home, we discovered we could make it on our own in the New World, so in 1776 we quitted King George, and disavowed our mother. Yet today we adore Mother England’s royal family, so much so that we nearly bursted all the buttons on our vests when one of our own recently married into the royal family. You’d have thought from all the hubbub that we hankered to go home again.

Not me.

I have no time for kings & queens & dukes — especially dukes. All the kings and dukes America needs can be found in Huckleberry Finn. As Huck explains it to Jim, “All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to make allowances. Take them all around, they’re a mighty ornery lot. It’s the way they’re raised.”

What I love most about our English Mother is her sense of humor. Mark Twain inherited his humorous outlook on life from Ben Franklin, and Franklin inherited his from Lord Chesterfield, “In the mass of mankind, I fear, there is too great a majority of fools and knaves; who, singly from their number, must to a certain degree be respected, though they are by no means respectable.”

Like your humor dry as a martini? Befriend a Brit and you won’t be disappointed.

Example… A soldier in the Boer War lost his leg and appealed to a comrade to carry him to the rear. This young son of Mars complied, shouldered the unfortunate, and off they went, through a hail of gunfire and cannon fire. But unbeknownst to the carrier, the poor unfortunate lost his head to a cannonball. Whereupon an officer spotted them.

“Private, where are you going?”

“To the rear, Sir, he’s lost his leg.”

“Lost his leg, you booby; he’s lost his head!”

The young soldier dispossessed himself of his burden and looked perplexed at the captain. “Sir, you’re absolutely right! He has lost his head. But he told me it was his leg!”

Let us not forget Sir Winston Churchill, who escaped death more times even than George Washington.

“Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”

In our complicated relationship with Mother England today, humor is still the best tincture, along with music. We sent them Mark Twain in the 19th century and they sent us the Beatles in the 20th. I feel like we’re ready for another Invasion of British music, and they just might be ready to welcome another invasion of American humor.

When Twain received an honorary degree from Oxford along with Kipling in 1907, Twain maintained, “The best picture I ever had taken was when we were coming out in procession and Mr. Kipling was behind me, when someone with a camera tried to snap him; but the Kodak slipped, and it turned out that I had eclipsed him completely, and there was nothing left of him but the tip of his ear.”

Finally, in closing, since England and America have been joined in Kipling, may they not be severed in Twain.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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