prints charming

My friend Robin has just fixed his blog feed so you can read it from your blog reader of choice. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying catching up on his news.

However, one thing I took slight umbrage (yes! umbrage!) to his description of a visit to the US and the security there. I do agree with his points about the social impacts of over-security and the scary implications of so much data (including fingerprints) being stored on people. He describes all this as “the brutal, hostile reception Americans give visitors”. Allow me to suggest that this is a tad strong. I wasn’t with him when he had his bag checked at the New York Met museum, so can’t vouch for that kind of brutality or hostility, but I like to think that on the whole Americans are generally welcoming to visitors (at least visitors from Western Europe who don’t have dark skin).

But generally this is a cultural thing and a matter of what you’re used to. There are certain things I’ve experienced in Britain which come as a bit of a shock after being away and then returning. For example when you go into a shop in the UK it’s very rare for the store assistants to greet you or even acknowledge your existence, let alone offer to help you buy stuff. Also when I’ve paid for things, it’s been very common for checkout staff to examine my money for fake bills, holding the paper money up to the light, using counterfeit detection pens etc. I’m not suggesting that these things are in any way brutal (although how brutal can you be when you’re checking someone’s bag in the entry to a museum?) but they do come across as being hostile and over-suspicious to someone not used to them.

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