Sarah Gardner: As we celebrate Independence Day here, over in the United Kingdom, scandal is brewing, as we noted earlier, around the big banks — Barclays, in particular.
So without further ado — What’s Up, Europe? And because it is the 4th of July, we bring you What’s Up Europe: The Ex-Pat Edition.
Jeff Moody just moved to Worcester, England, from Waco, Texas, where he’s starting up an office for an American company. And Matt Smith has been living in Edinburgh since last year, with his Scottish wife. Welcome to the program.
Jeff Moody: Thank you, Sarah, and happy 4th of July.
Matt Smith: Yeah, happy 4th.
Gardner: Happy 4th to you, too. So Matt, let’s start with you — you’re in Edinburgh, Scotland. What is the big topic of discussion over there?
Smith: Well, we’ve got a couple of issues here with the banks. The gentleman from down south, head of Barclays bank, definitely is in a little bit of trouble.
Gardner: Jeff, what about in Worcester? Are people talking about Barclays, and what are they saying?
Moody: Absolutely. And one of the funny things is that I just opened my account at Barclays last week, so it really resonated. And I shouldn’t be telling everybody this, but I do spend some time at the pubs — but it was kind of funny the other night, a gentleman was coming up and ordering a beer and was basically almost trying to scream at the top of his lungs about how Barclays was ripping everybody off. And I said, ‘Well, you know, they didn’t rip me off because I just opened my account there,’ and he says, ‘Oh yeah, they’re ripping you off.’ He was a very lively spirit and really raising it up in the bar about Barclays. And then obviously, where I’m hanging out, they’re talking a lot about football, which I used to call soccer. But Beckham not making the Olympic team has caused a huge stir over here.
Gardner: Yeah. Well you are in the West Midlands, Jeff, and I know that you work for a U.S.-based franchising company called Dwyer, and evidently you’ve hired some people. So the economy must be doing OK?
Moody: Well, where I am, the economy is thriving. I mean, there’s new construction going on; the shops are very vibrant; the carparks are full and hard to get into. So the area I’m in seems to be very vibrant.
Gardner: Matt, what about in Edinburgh? How’s the economy doing there, and are people talking about the financial crisis?
Smith: Yeah, most certainly. You’ve got Edinburgh here, kind of the financial center. So it is very much on the minds of folks. You’ve got a lot of people too that are, they just kind of go on with life. There are still big full-page adverts for tourism, during holidays, and special deals. So yeah, some people aren’t buying such extravagant holidays, but they’re still going.
Gardner: Yeah. Jeff, now we mentioned that you are hiring people in Worcester. You’re from Waco, Texas — are you finding any cultural disconnects there? Is it something to adjust to?
Moody: Absolutely. I mean, my first experience driving on the other side of the road with a five-speed was quite an experience. But culturally, I use the wrong terms a lot of times — pants over here don’t mean the same thing as pants over there.
Gardner: What do pants mean over there?
Moody: They’re undergarments, so they call them trousers. So I’ve made a few missteps, but my team is very cordial in the way that they correct me. But yeah, there’s a been a lot of cultural differences but it’s been a great experience so far.
Gardner: So how are you two going to celebrate the 4th of July today? What are the plans, Matt?
Smith: Well, shockingly, I’m actually in a baseball league in Edinburgh. So I will be playing baseball on British soil in a park here.
Gardner: Now, how long have you been in Scotland?
Smith: I’ve been here since December, last year.
Gardner: And I must say, I hear a hint of a Scottish accent there.
Smith: You wouldn’t be the first one to say that. Everyone thinks I’m Canadian here, and my family at home thinks I’m Scottish.
Gardner: That’s great. OK, Jeff Moody in Worcester, England, and Matt Smith in Edinburgh, Scotland. Thanks a lot gentlemen, and happy 4th of July.
Moody: Thank you and happy 4th of July to all my friends in America.
Smith: Yeah, happy 4th back home.
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