Pub Culture and the Trump Question

Oh, British pubs. What else is there in London besides you?

I’m a good expat. I love pubs. I love local beers. (Here’s looking at you, Gipsy Hill Brewing.) I love chips. (That’s french fries for you Americans.) I love when it’s late enough in the evening that strangers start talking to each other.

Except. EXCEPT.

“Oh! You’re American?”

Well, first they usually ask if I’m Canadian. I’ve been told this is because I sometimes use typically British intonation, and that mixed in with the usual American accent makes people think Canadian. I often consider just saying yes and avoiding the question that always arises when I say I’m American.


This question is generally accusatory. The question-asker anxiously awaits for a reply. They want me to say yes. I think with their eyes they’re willing me to say yes.

“No, of course not. Most Americans don’t like Trump.”

This is disappointing for the question-asker and their friends, who gathered at the name Trump like a magnet. Now they can’t debate me. I’m on their side. And yet the conversation spins off into a monologue on American politics – a monologue by said Brit to me, the actual American. It’s at this point I very much regret saying I’m not Canadian.

We continue the conversation by discussing the merits of both Sanders and Clinton. It feels like a test, like the Brit is actually an undercover agent attempting to survey my political knowledge. I try work Nate Silver into my replies to sound impressive.

And I always end the conversation with the same joke.

“If Trump wins I can always move to Canada.”


It seems like I can never find the time to write as much as I’d like – to journal, write letters, attempt to write on this blog. Blah, blah, blah. I thought I’d manage to think of interesting things to blog about but I’m not quite sure if anyone’s interested in hearing about narrative discourse and conversation analysis and ethnography. (YOU ARE?!)

And these days, when I sit down to write, it doesn’t feel like I’m describing an unknown world, full of strange and exciting landmarks and history. I just live here, and mostly I go to class and do research and spend hours transcribing conversations to analyze. Jonathan and I travel and our friends and family visit us, but in those moments I never think, “oh I should write this stuff down so I can rewrite it again later.” Is that what good bloggers do? Is that what good writers do? I used to keep a Moleskine notebook in my purse at all times, but now I just have my Oyster card.

Maybe I’m figuring out that one New Year’s resolution that I always break: to be fully present. In order to be present, I can’t always take photos and videos and write notes on my phone to read later. I can’t promise to journal every night because some nights I’ll be at Westow House until it closes or on a ferry back from Belgium.

I want to have all these memories after I leave this place, but some of them are just going to be memories in my mind and not in my phone.

So maybe I will start blogging about narrative discourse. Who knows the four elements to all storytelling?