Living in the US, I have always seized every opportunity to insist things are better in Blighty. But now both countries look ludicrous
For years now I have been living with a chronic condition that I’ve finally been able to diagnose as Privileged Immigrant Derangement Syndrome (PIDS). Let me explain: more than a decade ago I left my native Britain to go and work in New York. I wasn’t fleeing persecution, poverty, or life in a failed state; I just wanted to live in the US. There were more opportunities, I didn’t have to navigate the suffocating class system, and, most importantly, my English accent gave me a competitive edge. Women swooned at my vowel sounds (I’m not making that up: they swooned … OK, I promise at least one woman swooned) and everyone assumed I was on tea-drinking terms with the Queen.
Anyway, that’s the PI bit of PIDS. The D bit is this: when you spend extended time away from your home country, it’s easy to build up a romanticised version of it in your head. I became a cheerleader for all things British; I even bought a pair of union jack wellies, and wore them with pride whenever it rained. As my long-suffering American wife can attest, I seized every opportunity to say how much better things were in Blighty than Stateside. We had a superior healthcare system; we weren’t gun-nuts?; our infrastructure was better; our political system wasn’t as drenched with money, and was less corrupt. Even our rain was better. On and on I went about how the UK was infinitely superior to the US.
Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist
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