Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Weekend (aka a bank holiday). In England, Bank holiday weekends are celebrated, they’re celebrated because it gives us english folk an extra day off work which means an extra day to try and totally decimate our livers!

In america however, this bank holiday weekend is a time to remember those who have given their lives for the greater good of the nation…it also gave the family an excuse to take me up to their lake house. After deliberating for hours on whether to go with the family or whether to join anthony and watch a Metrostars game and go for a night out in New York afterwards, I decided that I would do something different. Rather than drinking myself silly in New York, I would take some time away from my ‘cough’ hectic lifestyle and chill out in the lake house.

After packing my bags setting off, I knew I had made the right decision. I could spend some time with the family, bond with the kids a little…ow and did i mention they have a speed boat on the lake that i would be skiing on all weekend?

We arrived at a small red house, that sat just on the edge of a fairly big lake. The trees hung over the area and covered the ground with leaves. As I looked out of the window, I could see a family of geese scurrying away into the lake, alarmed by the V8 engine car pulling up in the driveway.

I unpacked, kicked back and began to relax.

“Is this your house?” I asked Janette (the mother of the house where i stay)

“No” she replied “Its my parents house.”

“Will they be joining us on this fine weekend”, I enquired

“Actually yes, they will.” she remarked
“You havn’t met my father, have you mark?” She asked, i shook my head. “Well, I must warn you…he’s a little old fashioned!”

“Thats not a problem!” i said

“well, he’s also a little patriotic” she added.

“Theres nothing wrong with that.” I said

“Well, he’s a war re-enactor, he specialises in the ‘Revolutionary war.” She added

“ow” i replied (for all who arn’t familiar with the revolutionary war, its the war where Americans kicked the English out of America and claimed it as there own. Anyone remember “the patriot’, film with Mel Gibson about the revolution, it just so happens to portray the english as baby killing rapists?) Ah well, not to bad, that was over 300 years ago…cant be to p*ssed off with me about that…can he?

“He’s also half Irish half, half scottish.” she said

“meaning?” I asked

“Well his mother is Irish and he has a very strong sense of Irish pride. His mother lived just after the time of the potato famine of Ireland, and felt its reprocussions, thats why she moved to the US.”

For all who know nothing of the great potato famine, basically in the mid 1800’s, there was a huge potato crisis due to a disease in the crops. This meant there was hardly enough produce to feed the farmers, let alone sell any. However many english lords dukes and upperclass people owned these lands, and so claimed all of the potatoes for themselves. Leaving none for the people of Ireland (except the few that were deemed ‘rotten’) As the potato is Irelands No1 produce, this left Ireland with a huge problem, and caused 2 million deaths (with only 8 million people in the country) This problem was especiall bad in the south, the northern land owners were slightly more generous…resulting in the North/south split, the creation of Sinn Fein and 150 years of blood shed.

“He’s also a big fan of braveheart!” she said “Hahaha, only joking….he prefers Rob Roy actually!”

“Her-her” I attempted to laugh “Great….bonus actually!”

So, I, an english man, was staying in the house of ‘Big Jim’, an American who absolutely loves America, he frequently re-enacts and celebrates killing Englishmen and driving us out of the country, he is deeply old fashioned and blames my country for killing 2 million of his fellow Irish men, he’s also got scottish in him and probobaly hates us for what we did to William Wallace. And I’m in America, the place where its as easy to buy a Gun as it is a packet of cigs!

I was a tad nervous to say the least.

“I hope he isn’t too rude to you! He once went to Ireland, and refused to join his wife in England because he hates the English so much, ya know!” Jeff added. Cheers Jeff, thanks, big help!

The tension built up as I prepared myself for the end. I heard a faint rumbling, it was him! His car pulled up outside, I could hear the car door slam shut. I took a deep breath, prepared myself. Should I fight or fly? The door began to open, i took another deep breath. I then calmly walked over to him and shook his hand.

“Hi, I’m Mark” I said “I’m the soccer coach living with your family.”

“And where are you from?” he said

“Great Britain” Janette said very diplomatically before rushing him off to his room

I tried to stay out of his way after that. And the weekend went very well actually. On friday night, Jeff and I sat out infront of an open fire, drinking and talking about man things till the early hours. On saturday we got the boat running and I had a little drive, and a go on the rings. At night Jeff and I again sat infront of an open fire and consumed a large amount of alcohol talking about man things until the early hours. And again on sunday we were on the lake with the boat. Unfortunately a broken steering cable brought our day on the lake to a pre mature end. However I did have something in the evening to look forward to.

The Eve of Destruction…
Nope, not a film. A demolition derby actually. For 5 hours I was sat in a packed arena full of red necks (americans who drive big cars, like to drink and shoot things at the same time, and are generally called billy bob sue (they also have this ability to be peoples brothers and uncles at the same time if you catch my drift)) rednecks who were there for one reason, to see enough gasoline wasted in one hour that would put a small dent in the worlds oil supply and see some people get hurt. And they got both! A guy called Crash (seriously), crashed his school bus into another school bus…he actually went straight through it! Needless to say he left the arena in an ambulance! We then had Jet powered vehicles roaring around the track shooting balls of fire from their asses. And finally the destruction derbys, where cars basically crash into each repeatedly until their is only 1 vehicle left running.

Now thats entertainment.

We left early monday, and I spent the whole day resting and watching Lord of the Rings.

Hope I’ve enlightened you on American culture a bit more, if not I hope reading this entry has taken up more time than you were allocated for your dinner slot, resulting in you skiving a precious 15 extra minutes off work!

Until next time ladies and gents!

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