Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Dec. 15, 2003 / 20 Kislev, 5764

Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Life's brilliant on the other side of the pond | Let's begin with the Brussels sprouts. There was an attempt at a world record: Who could eat the most in one minute?

"You won't want to miss this!" the host said.

Now, I had no idea they kept records on Brussels sprouts. But I am behind on all things British and Irish. This became clear during a book tour last week in Dublin and London.

I was to appear, they told me, on some of those nations' most prestigious TV and radio programs. This included the one with the Brussels sprouts. That segment came just after the interview with the transvestite who had won a national arts award. He arrived with a dress, lipstick, wig - and his wife and kids.

"Hi," I said meekly.

"Hello," he said, his booming voice belying his eye shadow.

Let's face it: We both speak English, but Brits and Americans have as much in common culturally as Jack London and Jack Black. And not just because, if Americans wanted to break an eating record, it would be Krispy Kremes, not Brussels sprouts.

Did I mention it was "brilliant"?

This is a word that apparently has been devalued across the pond. I always thought brilliant was, you know, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking or at least the winner of "Jeopardy!" But in England and Ireland, all you have to do to get a "brilliant" is show up on time.

"You're here," they'd say. "Brilliant!"

"Can you fix your tie? Brilliant!"

"Smile for the camera . brilliant!"

Of course, the irony of being told you are brilliant is that, in Great Britain, you feel anything but.

Donate to JWR

For example, one morning I was taken to a BBC radio program. (Or "programme" as they spell it, which only shows they waste letterrrssss.) Again, I was told this was a huge show and a wonderful vehicle to promote a new book. I envisioned a one-on-one interview. Questions about writing, plot, characters.

Instead, I was led to a windowless studio and introduced to the other guests: a 17-year-old Muslim boy who started a radio station during Ramadan, a longtime British actress and folk singer, and the winner of another prestigious British award - for best floral artistry.

Floral artistry?

"Let's break the ice," the host said, starting the show. "What is your favorite flower - and why?"

"No fair!" the American in me wanted to scream. "The floral artist has home-court advantage!"

This thought was quickly replaced by another: "I don't have a favorite flower. I go to the store and say, "a red one, a white one, some of those yellow ones ."

And, of course, the floral artist went first. And she picked some flower I never heard of, and proceeded to describe its stem, petals, texture and aroma. The host smiled. Then the actress, who, naturally, being British, tended her own garden, also had a bunch of multisyllabic personal favorites. My last hope was the 17-year-old kid, except that he was also applying to medical school - and so, of course, he rattled off a few perennials and annuals.

"And yours?" the host said.

And I said, "Uh . roses are nice."

From that point, it was clear there was a moron in their midst. They endured me in polite British fashion. And, of course, afterward, they said the show was "brilliant!" even though I was obviously not, especially when it came to horticulture.

What else? There was a photographer who took my picture standing on a picnic table. There was a radio host who said my book was "cracker!" There was a TV show described as "our version of your Regis and what's-the-woman's-name?"

"Kelly?" I said.

"Brilliant!" they said.

All in all, I had a fine time, sipped a lot of tea, met a transvestite. And, though I did it the hard way, I now have the answer to my favorite flower. It's Brussels sprouts.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor Mitch Albom's column by clicking here. You may purchase his latest book, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven", by clickingHERE. (Sales help fund JWR.)


12/08/03: Squeezed by the politics of business
11/24/03: Celebs' misdeeds will make great tales for the grandkids
11/10/03: The butler did it! (But do we care?)
10/27/03: Parsley, sage, rosemary and time
10/13/03: The Kobe case: There are no winners
10/07/03: Tough choices in the not-so-amazing race
11/05/02: Everything is a billboard, even the cops
10/29/02: Nowhere to hide ... even at 40,000 feet
10/22/02: The pen isn't mightier than good sense
10/15/02: We turn our serial killers into celebrities
10/02/02: In Minnesota Vikings star receiver's view, he's king, you're dirt
09/26/01: The feds don't feel their pain
09/18/01: Some cling to life, others give it away
09/12/01: Worshipping a false 'Idol'
11/14/01: Patriotism is no excuse for stupidity
10/30/01: Dr. Dre: champ for First Amendment!
10/23/01: Terror is sugar-free
10/16/01: The army of the in-between
10/11/01: New war begins with delivery of darkness
10/08/01: Give peace a chance?
10/01/01: If this is supposed to make us feel secure, it isn't working
09/28/01: And our flag is still there
09/26/01: On the road to Ohio, life's little joys return
09/25/01: Our challenge: Not to change who we are
09/17/01: We can learn plenty from the horror
08/31/01: Back to school: Revenge of the boomers
08/22/01: The price of connectedness
08/16/01: An anniversary without celebration
07/31/01: Wanna name my kid? Pay me a cool Mil' --- OK, a half-mil'
07/25/01: Hey, there's no television on my ice floe!
07/10/01: When nobody knew what a Heisman was
07/02/01: Business opportunities for the empathy-impaired
06/25/01: Bunker mentality: At least Archie's meanness was satire
06/18/01: Famous fathers, eat your hearts out
06/05/01: 'No comment' on Bush twins is hard to swallow
05/30/01: Veteran scratches out the hatred
05/22/01: O.J.'s genius
05/15/01: No more kidding around
05/01/01: Haunted by the past
04/16/01: Before you file that extension...
04/11/01: Ever want to break an airport agent's neck? This guy did!
04/03/01: The best role models aren't on TV
03/19/01: 'March madness' is aptly named
03/07/01: I'm sorry, I apologize, I beg your forgiveness
03/05/01: Young fans' web sites become a Big Harry deal

© 2003 DFP