we were struck by how much less Englishnthe place seems these days. We’d nonsooner entered the Underground than wenwere looking at a big poster showing ancouple of guys sitting on a front porch innwhat was said to be Benson, North Carolina,ndrinking Budweiser. Yeah, it’s nicenthat Benson is still exotic enough to havensome cachet, but I find it sinister thatnBudweiser is available at all in the coun-.ntry that taught me to like bitter andnbrown ale.nThe real problem, though, is less creepingnAmericanization, that perennial bugbearnof the English left (and much of thenold Tory right), than it is galloping cosmopolitanismnin general. For instance,nspeaking of brew, the museum cafeterianat the Victoria and Albert doesn’t sellnBritish beer at all, just the Dutch andnGerman lagers that one of my Englishnfriends calls “Euro-fizz.”nWorse, when I went into a Knightsbridgendelicatessen and asked for Wensleydalencheese, the pleasant young Pakistaninbehind the counter looked puzzled.n”Wensleydale,” he said. “Doesn’t ring anbell.”nmi£nSame with clothing. The HarrisnTweed jackets I bought 12 years ago seemnto, have shrunk around the middle, so Inwent back to the same Oxford Streetnshop to buy one or two more, but all Infound were those double-breasted Italiannnumbers, with wide pointy lapels.nWhen I asked the clerk if they had anynclothes that don’t make you look like angigolo, he suggested (sneering) that I tryn”someplace that caters more to the touristntrade.” (After smarting under that insultnfor a while, I did, and found what I wasnafter.)nEven in matters of language some Britsnseem determined to jettison their heritage.nWhile we were there, an article innthe Telegraph reported that BBC radio isngoing to read through the Bible, butndespite the recommendation of the poetryndepartment and listener mail that rannten to one in favor of the King James Version,nthe religion department was holdingnout for a modern translation.nAt least one tradition persists, however:nthe bloody-mindedness of the Englishnworker seems to have been unaffected bynall the years of Thatcherism. Studyingnin the splendid old reading room of then46/CHRONICLESnBritish Museum one aftemoon, for example,nI was forcibly reminded that the ghostnof Karl Marx haunts the place in morenways than one when the stillness wasnshattered by a great clearing of throat onna public address system I’d never realizednwas there, and a working-class voicenannounced that no more books would bendelivered to readers that day becausenof “industrial action” by the library staff.n(Scores of shabby scholars shuffled, grumbling,nto the exits.)nOutside of London it was easier tonbelieve that maybe, just maybe, there willnalways be an England. Wiiere else, forninstance, would people eat strawberriesnand Devonshire cream on the lawn of angrand country house (in our case, Cliveden,nLady Astor’s estate on the Tliames),nthen sit in the rain to watch an amateurnproduction of The Taming of the Shrew?nAnd where else would there be a marketnfor something called a “chip buddy”:nfrench fries on white bread, with mayonnaise?nAnd, despite all the incursions of un-nEnglish ways, many English folk retainna strong, ineverent xenophobic streak thatnI rather admire—at least when it’s notnsurfacing as cruel and pointless Pakibashing.Considernthe followingnunattributed verse, protesting the ChannelnTunnel linking Great Britain to thenContinent. (It was passed on by a friendnwho copied a copy of a copy, and it seemsnto be an example of modern, urban photocopynfolklore, but if it has a knownnauthor I’d like to be corrected.)nOde to the ChunnelnThere’ll be carloads of LouisesnFrom Parisian stripteasesnImporting foul diseasesnInto Kent.nThere’ll be modern French Wells-nFargoesnSending juggernauts with cargoesnOf froglegs and escargotsnAnd men’s scent.nThere’ll be Dutchmen, too, by jingo.nWho’ll refuse to speak the lingo.nComing over for the bingonAnd the dogs.nAnd through this umbilical.nSeeking knickers from St. Michael,nGirls from Rotterdam will cyclenIn their clogs.nThere’ll be Danes on every corner,nFaces pink after a sauna,nnnTrying hard to sell us porno-nGraphic books.nThere’ll be men like Julius CaesarnGetting in without a visa,nCareless architects from Pisa,nBloody crooks.nThere’ll be wealthy German campersnWith enormous picnic hampersnFull of sauerkraut and champersnAnd pork pies.nThere’ll be Eyeties slick and smarmy.nReared on pizza and salami.nTurning up at VeeraswamynWithout ties.nThere’ll be Swedes of charmlessncandournComing over to philander.nSpreading left-wing propagandanAgainst wealth.nBelgian girls of great proportionsnWho have failed to take precautionsnWill drive over for abortionsnOn the Health.nThere’ll be Spanish senoritasnJamming all our parking metersnWith their miserable pesetas—nI don’t know!nAnd senors doing sambas.nShouting “Vamos!” and “Caramba!”nAnd believing that the ambernLight means “go.”nThere’ll be Austrians with poodlesnWanting membership of Boodles,nThen demanding apple strudelsnWith their tea.nThere’ll be lecherous KuwaitisnDriving lorryloads of KatiesnFrom the Thames to the Euphrates,nC. O. D.nThere’ll be men from Lithuania,nFrom Rumania and Albania,nPennsylvania and Tasmania,nI’ve no doubt.nSo, dear immigration panel,nBoys in sports jackets and flannel,,nPlease protect our English Channel—nKeep them out!nNow that’s the England I remember, andnone thing I liked about it was that itnwasn’t sure it liked me.nWhile in England, John Shelton Reednfinished writing Revolt Against CommonnSense: The Cultural Politics ofnVictorian Anglo-Catholicism, whichnwill be published in 1993.n