Anarchy in the U.K. (A Phish Tale)

“And I can see there’s something wrong with you
But what do you expect me to do?”
— Sex Pistols, “Problems”

“I look into my finance box
Just to check my status”
— Phish, “Golgi Apparatus”

24 Feb 2011

Attn: Her Majesty the Queen
cc: Prime Minister David Cameron
Ricky Gervais
The cast and crew of Cranford

I never thought these scenarios were real … until it happened to me.

Now, look. I’ve never set foot on your continent. But I’ve seen enough BBC to grok the gist. Aside from Basil Fawlty’s sputtering lunacy, Vyvyan Basterd’s two-sticks sneer, and Jeff Murdoch’s creepy libido, I’m confident you’re an island of manners, couth, and grace.

But some of your subjects — my God. I understand you’re not responsible for every rapscallion’s behavior, yet you must be apprised of a rapidly worsening social epidemic.

Everywhere I turn I hear awful stories about Americans impulsively traveling abroad only to be assaulted by your countrymen, stripped of their wallets, then left only with access to Facebook to share their harrowing experience with friends, often in stilted babble that sounds completely unlike them. Their desperation is heartbreaking, their anguish overwhelming. In their discombobulation, they’ve forgotten specific details about their own lives, details like longtime e-mail addresses or personal/intimate histories.

Forgive my impudence, Your Majesty, but the U.K. sounds like a goddamned nightmare. I picture alleys of scoundrels, blackjacks and pistols ready for action. Apparently, the police are useless because they’re still fuming over the way we good-naturedly mock their sartorial resemblance to Rowan Atkinson in The Thin Blue Line (hey, that’s Ben Elton’s fault! Go rob him!), and our embassy twiddles its fat bureaucratic thumbs, rendered immobile by bangers, mash, and kebabs.

Right. Fine. We’ll give Tom Hooper all the Oscars this year. We’ll cast Colin Firth in everything. We’ll retroactively apologize for killing only English- and Irishmen in The Great Escape. We’ll make a movie with Jason Statham, Brendan Gleeson, and Liam Neeson beating the shit out of the Rock. Now, will you please let us roam the Piccadilly unmolested?

Honestly, you never hear about such violence in America. I’ve never been pinged by an English acquaintance: “Pip-pip, chappie, I’ve been robbed at gunpoint outside an Allagash bed-and-breakfast and I’m in dire need of lucre to settle my bill.” Instead, it’s more “What-ho, I’m chuffed, they’ve sold me a marvelous jar of local preserves!” That’s how we do in the colonies, bro. We limit the beat-downs and swindling to our own, each and every week on Jersey Shore.

Seriously, though, are you guys broke or something? Even with all the world’s eyes on your upcoming royal nuptials? Good Lord. Imagine the horror as news cameras capture, over Prince William’s shoulder, Kate Middleton’s uncle pulling a knife on Kanye West! How do you think this anti-American trend will affect your international press, not to mention your tourism and diplomacy?

I’m not that tight with the White House (yet), but I know a few gofers at my local city hall. I can certainly get the ball rolling, see if we can’t get you back on your feet. So the next time one of my friends bounds across the pond for some needed R&R and decides to chat me up after two or three years of irregular contact, we can have a weird conversation instead about how lovely and generous your people are. How perhaps I should visit myself one day, for badinage over a spot of tea. And then I’ll give you my PIN number.

God save and keep the Queen,

Cory J. Frye


P.S. My gratitude to the Guardian’s Richard Adams, who helped me make sense of a phishing attempt this morning and who, for some odd reason, follows me on Twitter.


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