20 APRIL 1991, Page 25


Flight or fright

Sir: I am angered by the accusations of cowardice being directed at North Amer- icans by the British press in general, and that notorious xenophobe Auberon Waugh in particular. This is not the first subject on which Mr Waugh has spouted nonsense, and he deserves to be tied to a chair and forced to drink several bottles of Canadian wine.

I am informed by the British High Commission in Ottawa that 16 per cent fewer North Americans visited Great Brit- ain in December 1990 compared to the same month in 1989. (The High Commis- sion could not give me separate statistics for Americans and Canadians, which is a shame since they would of course prove that Canadians are the bolder of the two.) However, British travel abroad decreased 17 per cent in December 1990 compared to December 1989. This your own High Com- mission attributes to `anxiety over the Gulf Crisis'.

When one compares the statistics, at least, it appears that the British are even more craven than North Americans. It might be fairer to blame all this on the recession, which is making it difficult for people to find the means to pay the rent, let alone travel, but this seems to be an irrelevant consideration to those who write articles pandering to national prejudices.

For years, you British have complained about tourists making a circus out of the Abbey and crowding your shops. Now that we have seen fit to leave you alone, you whine about our absence and fill your journals and newspapers with insults.

I have often wondered what makes the British a perpetually dissatisfied nation. Is It because there are so many of you crammed together in a small island-and-a- half? Is it because of the weather? Is it because of those unspeakable sausages you eat? I have now come to the conclusion that the Australians are correct: the British bitch for the pure pleasure of bitching.

See you next summer.

Timothy Jaques

602-166 Ouellette Avenue Windsor, Ontario