Tomayto, Tomartoe - Spear's Magazine

Tomayto, Tomartoe

Is Mid-Atlantic Girl becoming more English than American? Daisy Prince on a low-impact identity crisis.

Is Mid-Atlantic Girl becoming more English than American?  Daisy Prince on a low-impact identity crisis.

As a Mid-Atlantic Girl, one of the things I struggle with is how to define where I’m from. After what period of time does one get to be of the country one resides in? I was born in London, have lived here for the past few years and just got married to a lovely British man, but I have always maintained that I’m still a foreigner. However, recently I’ve been rethinking my provenance, and as much as I’ve tried to hold onto my American ‘values’, I have to admit that the past few years have left more of dent on me than I’d thought.

I was first struck by this a few weeks ago when I went shooting with some Americans who had never been before. I don’t actually shoot myself, but I have been along to a few shoots as a spectator. Even after years of going out with a man who lives for country sports, I still struggle with spending my hard-earned Saturday as cheerleader for my husband’s need to shoot what look to me like large, over-decorated chickens. I’ve learned to pass the time at the peg by bringing a book along. Annoyingly, it’s usually far too loud to get much reading done and I do get a lot of strange looks.

On this occasion, though, I was much too entertained by my companions to even contemplate reading. The American ladies were completely horrified by the fact that there were five full-fat meals consumed throughout the day. I had to admit that they had a point. Indeed, I remembered the first time I’d gone shooting, when one of the hosts, who’d been driven around all day in a Land Rover, came striding in saying how exhausted he was. I thought, ‘from what? Over-eating?’

The next morning, I got up at my usual 11 o’clock (for a Sunday) to discover that all the American ladies had gone running, no doubt terrified that the chocolate pudding from dinner would have worked its way onto their thighs overnight. Time was when I would have been out there pounding the dirt track right along with them, but now, seven years into my sojourn in London, my response was to take a second croissant and grab a section of the Sunday papers.

The English papers are something that I have taken up with a vengeance. I love nothing more than to surround myself with acres of newsprint and glossy supplements on a Sunday. They are informative, colourful, and compulsive. By contrast, American newspapers are dull and lengthy, and while they may be slightly more factual, they are definitely a lot less fun.

Transportation is another area in my life where I’ve made a few adjustments. In New York, I happily took taxicabs for destinations as little as two blocks away. London taxis aren’t quite as plentiful as their New York counterparts, so that’s not really an option. But I have found a solution. I commute to and from work on my Brompton (bicycle), which means I’m not (normally) late and makes me exercise.

My eating habits have definitely changed. In London, I tend to have people over for dinner or go to people’s houses. In New York, I was out at restaurants at least five days a week and the concept of ordering ‘off the menu’ is so common that no-one would blink if a group of girls ordered just green salads for dinner. This would be considered weird and unsporting in a London restaurant, let alone at someone’s house. The thought of the inevitable look that a host or hostess would give you when you announce that you’re on an ‘all-apple’ diet does not bear thinking about.

Other ways in which I have changed since taking up occupancy here, include my embracing of general scruffiness. My nails would be considered a shocker in New York, but the convenience of the $10 manicure on every street corner is still a distant dream in London. My sartorial sense has altered as well, and even though I work at a magazine, my look is much less, Devil Wears Prada and much more ‘Daisy does Debenhams’.

On the subject of work, I think my philosophy towards my career has changed as well. Although I love my job and enjoy going to work, I don’t think I’m as attuned to what my other friends are doing as I used to be in New York. I just don’t tend to discuss work outside of the office and therefore feel less defined by what I do.

Before you start thinking that I’ve completely left my American high-maintenance ways behind, I do still have one or two Yankee quirks. I have to get my hair coloured every six weeks or I look like a Yorkshire terrier. I have a personal trainer and, whenever I’m feeling a bit too voluptuous, I have a calorie-controlled food service deliver my meals.

Oh, and I have a deep and profound belief that soap operas should be based on beautiful, rich people on yachts, not people with grim lives who spend all their time at the pub. As the day when you would catch me voluntarily watching EastEnders is pretty far off, my St George’s Flag is yet to be completely unfurled.



 

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