I have a confession to make. I am an immigrant. And I don’t mean I’m from Scarborough. It’s far worse than that.
I am...if you could put down the pitchforks and dim the torches for a moment...American.
Well, half-American, on my dad’s side. My mum’s as English as apple crumble. But pappy Holtz hails from the fine city of Milwaukee, WI.
That’s Wisconsin by the way, not Women’s Institute.
We came here in 1971, when I was ten months old.
Obviously I had little experience of anything at the time, other than soiling my nappies, and I imagine that’s pretty much the same whichever side of the Atlantic you are on.
For my dad though, it was a bit of a culture shock.
The first thing was...you couldn’t get...stuff.
Hot dogs were in the ‘exotic foods’ section of the supermarket.
There was ‘half day closing’. I still don’t get that.
I mean if you need a rest, fine, get someone else to run the shop, but it’s pretty spectacularly abritrary to just close down your business for four hours on a Tuesday.
White goods were plentiful in the USA in 1971.
In the UK, the only washing machines were in London. They were the size of terraced houses and cost a thousand pounds each.
When I was a kid one of the highlights of my week was going into Whitby with my mum to do the laundry.
Carrying four bin liners full of pants on the bus seemed entirely normal back then.
Of course, being American, my dad stood out a bit.
We had a shop in Robin Hood’s Bay (now Bertie’s, incidentally). It never made any money but he got to meet a lot of people, which I guess was mostly the point.
We’d get postcards addressed to ‘The Fat American’. With hindsight this was accurate but a bit harsh – ‘The American’ would have done just as well.
It’s not like there was a skinny American knocking around.
It’s July 4 this Monday. My mum’s having a party.
Dad won’t be there sadly, what’s left of him is billowing in the breeze somewhere over Sledgates.
But if you hear a loud bang and see a bright light in the sky, don’t call the coastguard.
It’s just those bloody Americans and their fireworks.