I posted a while ago about five things America does better than Britain. So here's the other side of the coin. (Note that I'm deliberately avoiding hot-bed political topics. I happen to believe that strict gun control and free healthcare are wonderful, but many Americans disagree. So I'm restricting this post to things which I think are uncontroversial.)
British chocolate is right up there alongside Swiss and Belgian as the best in the world. Seriously. American chocolate tastes like earwax in comparison. I've yet to meet an American who, having tried British chocolate, doesn't agree with me. Sister missionaries are fun to try it on - their faces when they first bite into a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk are always quite the picture.
Christmas is much bigger over here, and lasts much longer. My office will close on 23rd December and not reopen until 2nd January, and that break doesn't come out of my holiday entitlement (see below). Not only is Christmas Day a public holiday with almost everything closed, but so is Boxing Day, the day after. And New Year's Day. All the best films and Christmas specials are on television, and there's a dizzying wealth of traditions, from mince pies and Chrismas pud to carols by candlelight and Christingle. It probably helps that we haven't just had a big family celebration involving a turkey.
|Buckshorns, my parents' home.|
In fairness, America can't really help the fact that it doesn't have much in the way of history, but we do laugh over here when we hear American sites designated "historical" when they're barely a hundred years old. My parents' house was built in 1491, it's not a historical attraction or a museum, and they live in it. It's no big deal, because there is no shortage of homes available which date back several centuries and have the character to match.
4. Maternity Leave
America is one of only two first-world countries that doesn't offer statutory paid maternity leave. Over here we're entitled to - get this - up to a year off work, with a guaranteed-by-law job to return to afterwards. For the first 39 weeks you get paid 90% of your salary, after which the pay goes down incrementally. It costs the employer nothing because the government not only reimburses the salary paid to the absent employee, but pays more than that 90% in order to cover the additional expenses involved.
5. Statutory Holidays
Similarly, America is the only western country not to require its employers to provide mandatory vacation time, and apparently one in four Americans gets none at all, although most get one or two weeks per year. This caused some problems during one of our visits to Florida when we tried to book our apartment for two weeks. Their computer system just wasn't set up for people to come for two weeks at once, and we ended up having to move to a different apartment halfway through our stay.
Over here in the UK we are entitled to four weeks' statutory holiday (vacation) time each year. Many employers, including my own, are more generous and add the eight annual Bank Holidays (New Year's Day, May Day, Good Friday, Christmas, Boxing Day, etc) on top of that four weeks rather than including it within it. And with that week off between Christmas and New Year too, I'm hardly ever at work...