Geographic uncertainty

Continuing Friday's theme of inanimate objects doing things you haven't asked them to in an effort to be useful, my Mammy has painted a large cream splodge on the wall of my hall. She said she thought I might like to paint my hall a nice cream colour and was giving me the chance to see how it looked before I did it.
As it happens, I'm not doing it. Just like I'm not going to be hanging the attractive minty green wallpaper in the spare bedroom she bought because it was only €6 a roll. It has the texture of old peoples' trousers which is why it is stacked neatly in the spare bedroom with the pasting table and a step ladder awaiting my attention.

Anyway. Some years ago I would find a source of amusement in asking Americans if they knew which part of England Scotland was in but stopped after I realised that not only did they not know, but that they didn't understand the joke. Then Mel Gibson got all enthusiastic about wearing a skirt and shouting things and they realised that Scotland and England were different places even if they didn't quite grasp the relationship between them. These days of course, all of that is forgotten and they have all gone back to using the terms England, Britain and the UK interchangeably. What I didn't realise until today is that those three terms can also be used to refer to Ireland.
Recently America has not had the greatest track record when it comes to things like respecting the sovereignty of other nations but because they invented Hershey's Chocolate, the only foodstuff in existence to make you wish you were eating an aubergine instead, we all put up with their empirical dreams. Not noticing that Ireland exists separately to the UK takes something special and makes me wonder if Gordon 'n' Dubya have a secret and diabolical plan to bring this nation back under British control. If they have, let me be the first to say "welcome" to the British liberators. Tea and scones at my place lads.

Ireland always used to be the one place you could be confident Americans knew existed. Americans like to tell you how Irish they are. However privately amusing you find this, I would urge you to encourage them all to stick to this line because there is nothing like being told by somebody they are three sixteenths British to spark a diplomatic incident. The only occasion upon which somebody is British is when the separate nations have united against a common irritant.

This morning on the radio the DJ was having a chat to some bird from America. They probably did mention who she was but I was too busy falling off scaffolding to notice. She was something to do with the entertainment news because the topic she was wittering on about was Russell Brand and how ill received he had been at the VMAs. She was at great pains to tell us how British humour does not always translate very well and so not to judge the death threatening maniacs too harshly. She then went on to confidently discourse about "your" comedians and how they were really funny, honestly they were, and could be massively successful across the pond. Ricky Gervais was mentioned.
What she seemed to forget was that she was speaking to an Irish DJ on an Irish radio station being broadcast in a country called Ireland.
The DJ did his best. Rather than point this out to her, he tactfully attempted to draw her attention to the fact by repeating everything she said with the words "And Ireland" tacked onto the end. In desperation, he tried to mention every Irish stand-up he could think of in the hope she might possibly have heard of at least one of them. She hadn't. Nor did she notice what he was doing and continued to enthuse about the Brits.

If I were a less original person I would consider now a good point to go on about how dumb America is and possibly mention my favourite survey of all time which found that, in 1996, 42% of high school graduates were unable to name a single country in Asia. However. America is not a dumb place. Ignorant in parts, certainly, but show me a country that isn't.
The world is full of things we don't know. I for instance, despite being enormously clever and good looking, am unable to tell you where Suffolk is. Should I get asked I will suggest it is bordering Rutland because nobody knows where Rutland is, not even the people who live there. I used to know what Europe looked like but politics happened and now I don't.

What makes it even worse is quite often we learn things and later on some clever boffin type person, with a beard, will announce that things aren't like that at all. Then some other boffin type person, also with a beard, will disagree and produce diagrams to illustrate this fact. A third boffin, who has up until this point been off in a corner drinking tea and trying to grow a beard, will tell them they are either both right or both wrong and the three will gather around a blackboard covering it with complicated formulae and getting chalk over everything. At this point the journalists reporting this story go off for a liquid lunch and never return.
When I was small there were 9 planets in the solar system. These days I understand there are actually 10 - the tenth being named Rupert or Xena or something equally as improbable. Then I learned that Pluto isn't a planet anymore so there are 9 after all. Yet if Pluto isn't a planet, surely Curtis (or whatever) is unlikely to be a planet also?

To my mind it's better to stick to uncomplicated things like Quantum Theory. At least nobody understands that. And it doesn't deal with things like geography.

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