Confessions Of A Recovering Anglophile

Published on November 29th, 2009 in: Editorial, Issues, OMG British R Coming |

rupert everett dance
Rupert Everett in Dance With A Stranger, 1985

It wasn’t the Beatles; despite Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and select songs from the White Album, I could hardly tell they had accents. And it wasn’t David Bowie because he wasn’t even from Earth, never mind the UK. I should probably blame Julie Andrews, since it was surely my obsession with The Sound Of Music and Mary Poppins that started it.

It began innocently enough, with an attempt to recreate Ms. Andrews’ speech patterns. I wrote and performed fake radio plays into a tape recorder and all the characters had variations on an English accent. With the explosion of MTV in 1981 (and my teen hormones soon thereafter) there were suddenly all these new bands to fascinate me, ones who were not found in my parents’ record collection. Many of them not only had British accents, they also had British cheekbones.

Adam Ant, Billy Idol, and Duran Duran opened the door to any British band with a halfway cute singer who wore eyeliner. Then, I discovered two things via PBS: Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Brideshead Revisited. The former featured funny British guys, which in my world was almost better than the high-cheekboned ones; the latter featured British (and possibly gay) guys from the 1920s who dressed like American preppies. Throw some Boy George, Marilyn, and Marc Almond into the mix and it’s a wonder I didn’t start writing slash fiction in 1982.

Yet my obsession wasn’t just relegated to androgyny and cross-dressing (although that helped). My love of period British set pieces such as Brideshead fairly exploded when I discovered Merchant-Ivory films and all their imitators. There was Cary Elwes in Lady Jane; Julian Sands in A Room With A View and Oxford Blues; and Rupert Everett in Princess Daisy, Another Country, and Dance With A Stranger. All hopelessly pretty and overwhelmingly British. It wasn’t just the boys, either; I wanted to look like, no, BE Helena Bonham Carter.

a room with a view
Julian Sands and Helena Bonham Carter in
A Room With A View, 1985

Gary Numan, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Soft Cell, The Smiths, The Cure, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, Love and Rockets, Japan, and David Sylvian. . . all adorned my walls and my stereo throughout junior high and high school. I rarely listened to any American bands unless they somehow sounded British. I wanted to move to London to become a fashion designer. (Oh, didn’t we all?)

When I discovered there was a word for this I felt validated: anglophile, “a person who greatly admires or favors England and things English.”

My anglophilia grew to embarrassing proportions when I started spelling words in the British way. I had brief affairs with both classic rock (my faves were Led Zeppelin, natch) and metal in the late ’80s, and despite going absolutely crazy for Suede when they released their first album, I despaired of ever finding any bands I liked as much as those ’80s bands from the UK, many of whom had broken up before I even started listening to them.

Then, in 1993, Redd Kross took over my stereo. Through them I discovered or rediscovered American bands both old and new: Cheap Trick, Flop, The Muffs, Iggy Pop, The Ramones, The Runaways, Sonic Youth, Sparks, The Stooges, and White Flag, to name a few. I felt ashamed and almost unpatriotic for not giving these bands their proper due.

Later, I was conflicted when I heard Blur, and then Pulp. Was I a fair-weather Anglophile? An American traitor? Or just confused?

I soon realized that it’s okay to be a little bit Anglophile. London may be expensive, and rainy, and I might not actually want to visit there, but I can still admire from afar (at least that way I won’t ever be disappointed).

Spelling words the British way, unless you are actually British (or Canadian), however?

Still embarrassing.

Less Lee Moore, Managing Editor

For more anglophilia confessions, please check out our Best of British special feature in this issue.

6 Responses to “Confessions Of A Recovering Anglophile”

  1. JL:
    November 30th, 2009 at 10:16 am

    LLM at the gas station:
    “I’d like to put 5 bob worth o’ petrol in me tank, guv.”

    Attendant: “I…er…?”

  2. Popshifter:
    November 30th, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Thankfully I did not start driving until this phase passed!


  3. Mister Fusty:
    December 1st, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Is there such a thing as a reverse anglophile? As an Englishman I’m far more fascinated with all things North American. Although that’s not to say I didn’t feel pangs of national pride when reading some of the excellent articles in your section. They were mostly spot-on choices too, apart perhaps from Muse (Queen with all the fun removed) and being a working-class northerner I’ve never really been a fan of Brideshead/Merchant Ivory, perhaps toffs swanning about airy country houses with wistful looks on their faces aint my cup of char. Huzzah Popshifter! Nice to see the colonies doing so well these days 🙂

  4. Mister Fusty:
    December 1st, 2009 at 3:08 am

    If you want to try the accent don’t take Tracy Goodwins advice! Unfortunately most of her videos have been removed from You Tube but here’s people miming to her ‘lessons’

  5. Mister Fusty:
    December 1st, 2009 at 3:39 am

    I’ve just read my first post again and it looks like I’m slagging of the Muse and Brideshead articles, I’m not all – they were very good, I’m not that into the subjects is all. Sorry.
    Oh dear, I’m being stereotypical British, all apologetic! Next post will be me apologising for being so apologetic. Will it never end…

  6. Popshifter:
    December 1st, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Mister Fusty, you are forgiven.


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