Culture Chameleon

Bizarre news that a 44-year-old American who disappeared from Orlando, FL over twenty years ago has recently surfaced in a British jail. Charles Stopford was arrested on false passport charges when trying to cross to France from Dover (despite being in the EU, Britain does not have open borders policy such as exists between many other EU countries). He had lived a prosperous life in Britain under the false identity of Lord Christopher Buckingham – titular heir to a family dynasty – using stationery bearing the Buckingham coat of arms, which hasn’t been used since the 17th century.

Stopford was able to “pass” as a member of the British upper classes partly because, from a young age, he had developed a perfect British accent at his parents home in Orlando by watching re-runs of Benny Hill and Monty Python and listening to his extensive collection of Beatles records.

This amazing feat of cultural assimilation should be a lesson to all of us who wish to blend seamlessly into other cultures.

No doubt Stopford paid particular attention to Monty Pythons’ Upperclass Twit of the Year sketch. This would compensate for the Beatles Scouse accents and the strangled guttural squeaks uttered by the terminally randy Benny Hill lusting after disheveled blonds.

I wonder how many other cultural chameleons are out there? Perhaps there’s some illegal immigrant in the USA (a role I know well) hanging out on an Ivy League campus carefully mimicking the tones of Yale graduate President Bush? Maybe they’ll succeed, like Dubya, in disguising their true origins.

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