I have long been intrigued by Churchill's celebrated aphorism that Britain and the US are two nations divided by a common language. Recent news suggests its abiding relevance.
If you are an impecunious non-American, and an American billionaire accuses you of being a 'pedo', there is no point in your suing him for libel in the American Courts. After the most scrupulous philological enquiries, the jury, thank goodness, will find him not guilty.
This reminds me of an anecdote in that wonderfully funny collection, Maurice Healy's The Old Munster Circuit. A judge called Richard Adams dismissed a prisoner with the words "You have been acquitted by a Limerick jury, and you may leave the dock without any other stain upon your character".
Perhaps I shouldn't have written this daring and subversive post. Perhaps it will result in my being kidnapped and taken by Extraordinary Rendition to some dark and dingy corner of the Americanosphere where I will have to undergo Enhanced Interrogation, and possibly even be denied all reading matter other than the Collected Speeches of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
It's all very strange. Every American I have ever met has, with no exceptions apart from the officials in Homeland Security, been gracious, decent, and civilised; generous, amusing, and intelligent.
However have I alone been so lucky?