The premise is simple: You are no longer a citizen of your home country, which of the two nations your mates call home will you choose? You may not choose as third, and as always, you may not discuss your thoughts with the other two.
Do I Really Have to Choose?
I have discovered that I like small towns; hopefully one not too far from a larger city. Yesterday I went into Pasha’s Yapy Market (Hardware Store) for a light bulb and the owner sees me and calls “Hi Dean!”. I know for a fact if I have a problem with any product I buy from there they have my back – to hell with receipts.
When Roger first mentioned the idea for this article, I thought “that’s easy” the UK shares language, culture, and history with the US. It would be quite easy to live there and adapt to being English.
But… St. Petersburg does call. Easily among one of the three or four most beautiful cities on the planet. Dripping in waterfront Palaces and history, it’s a place one could love.
A bit of full disclosure: I’ve spent months in Russia but have never been to St. Petersburg. I’ve never really ventured too far from Moscow.
I don’t think most folks realize how different Russia’s major cities are from the smallest towns. Real poverty is alive and well in many villages, the petrol dollars all went to a few, big places. It’s something that would not happen in a Liberal Western Democracy because people would raise a huge ruckus.
So, for me, the question becomes would I rather live in St. Petersburg or a small English village. I do love history and would spend months exploring St. Petersburg. I also know the UK has a few hard years ahead of her.
The more I contemplate it; this is a difficult question. The first couple of years it would be St. Petersburg; no question. Every weekend would hold a new adventure and I like to explore.
Then there’s Vlad. Putin’s foreign policy is easy: “Anything the West wants, I stand against.” He has never been able to get past the Cold War and wants to keep the hate going.
So I doubt I would ever become just another one of the guys in Russia. Could I ever truly become “at home?” I don’t know.
On the other hand, the UK is safe, I know I would adapt. And who wouldn’t want to live in a romantic, thatched roof cottage in a little village?
The truth is, I want both… seems I have expensive taste.
If I wasn’t Russian which nationality would I prefer: English or American?
This one is easy to me. Surely, American.
Not because I’ve got something against those on the other side of the pond. I like Britain and I’ve got some good UK friends, Roger definitely being one of them. I like the English football team, too, and was soooo glad to see them getting into the semi-finals stage for first time since 1990. No doubt, this makes me a perfect anglophile.
But… never been there, never done that.
On the other hand, I’ve been several times to the States, the first time at the age of 18, a foreign exchange student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas: Life is too short not to live it as a Texan. I know this mantra. Even been near (but never entered) the Dr. Pepper museum.
I remember strolling down the streets of New York City in March 1994, spending my student vacation there: that year it was as cold as Moscow, chilly and snowy. I remember seeing Cindy Crawford during my NBC studios tour there. Though from a distance, I’ve noticed her perfect, shiny, brilliant hair, though I am not a fan of her as a model: I always liked Linda more.
I remember playing tennis in sunlit California the following year.
I also remember my first visit to Alaska and how it struck me; this land is so different from the other United States (aka Lower 48) as well as from any other land I’ve seen before.
I surely remember my mushing experience with Jim Lanier in the Alaskan outback – these things won’t go way. Driving the snowmachine (yes, they say it this way there, not ‘snowmobile’ like in the Lower 48) in the taiga and listening to its deafening silence when all the mushers gone. Having an Alaskan Amber after at the lodge, feeding dogs and sometimes, though rarely, scooping the poop at the Northern Whites kennel.
I even think I understand why some Americans love Donald Trump and some hate him.
If I’ve had comparable memories about the UK I would probably re-consider. But I don’t.
So Go West, all the way… to the Last Frontier!
Were I not British, would I rather be American or Russian?
For most of my life, this would have been a no-brainer. I loved my visits to America, there’s Disneyworld, NASA, Gershwin and The Simpsons, and for so long, Russia was always surrounded in mystery, intrigue, and extremely disturbing stories. I think it was Churchill who ventured: “The Soviet Union is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” So I would have been a Yank without question.
These days I am not at all sure. I don’t like what America has become – I don’t like the amount of supremacists, whether racial or religious, and the sheer amount of hate that pervades a section of the enormous community. And I certainly don’t like the daily massacres. Yes, the shootings; I am not joking when I tell you the equivalent of a gun massacre occurs virtually every single day in America.
Who wants to live in a country where this is accepted as ok? It must be OK because no one is doing a damn thing about it, except bleat pathetically about some second amendment, which actually doesn’t apply to the mobsters. It was our American co-writer Dean who showed us that the amendment applied only to the militia – guess who changed all in the 1970s to make it apply to civilians? Those complete arseholes called the National Rifle Association.
I actually see no leaders, no visionaries who will hold the American people’s hand and lead them into a better, safer place.
So, does that mean I become a new Russian?
Actually, there is little wrong with the Russian people, several of whom I have been privileged to call my mates in recent years. What’s wrong with the country is the way it’s run, and in particular, the person who calls the shots. I can shout “Boris and his cronies are total tossers” in the UK and, apart from the usual few obnoxious tweets, nothing will happen to me. In America, proclaiming “Trump’s a ****”, I’m not sure what would happen – depends who’s listening I suppose – but in Russia, I would venture that saying “Putin sucks” at the top of my voice on a street corner would be just shy of sensible.
This all needs balancing. I mean, does Russia have leaders, visionaries who will lead their country into a better, safer place? No chance. Not yet, anyway.
So I need to look at the future to make my decision. The American Dream is shattered, there’s no doubt about that. From a nation that put man on the moon with such limited technology back in the 1960s, it’s now declined into a country of complete dysfunction, (a bit like my own).
I’ve never been to Russia, but the people I meet from that country always appear positive, as if they will have, or are having, a much better future than their fathers and grand-fathers. They just need the right leader. So, with my limited knowledge of this equally massive country, I choose Russia, not America; and probably not for the right reasons – not because I know Russia to be a better place, but because I really do not fancy America anytime soon. Sad.