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Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
UK lads versus US dudes

It seems the British and Americans are divided by more than a common language. The UK's young men are not a patch on their counterparts across the Atlantic, says the daughter of a top American diplomat. BY BBC News Online's Ryan Dilley.

For straight talking you can't beat American girls, particularly the young ladies hailing from patrician families.

President Clinton was rumoured to have sought the counsel of his daughter Chelsea, 20, to help break the deadlocked Middle East peace talks at Camp David last month.

Now Mary-Catherine Lader, the 15-year-old daughter of the US Ambassador to Britain, has put aside diplomatic niceties and cut straight to the real heart of Anglo-American relations.

"British boys really suck!" she told Tatler magazine.


Miss Lader pulled no punches when it came to describing the stature of British boys.

Neither stout yeomen types nor beefcake pin-ups, the boys Miss Lader has encountered in her three years in the UK have been "scrawny" and "unhealthy looking".

Steptoe and Son
"You're not the only dirty little man, dad."
The diplomat's daughter may have a point. The "athletic" American males she extols in her Tatler piece tower over British weeds by a whole ... half inch.

According to the National Survey of Health and Development, the average British man - now 5ft 10in - is soon set to surpass his American cousin. He may perhaps even hit 6ft by 2050.

Americans are still bigger ... around the waist. A diet of fries, potato chips and candy consumed in front of the 'tube' has left a quarter of Americans clinically obese.

Munching chips, crisps and sweets while watching the 'telly' appears a far healthier lifestyle. A mere 16% of British males are obese.


American poet Randall Jarrell once said in the eyes of his compatriots "English manners are more frightening than none at all". Not so, says Miss Lader.

At a social occasion one British boy asked her but two introductory questions before feeling it his fair due to attempt a kiss, with tongues.

John Major and Barbara Bush
"That was only one question, Prime Minister Major."
Miss Lader says back home the boys are content to court the friendship of young ladies, rather than chase their chastity.

Strange then that the United States has the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the developed world, according to the New York Times.

Perhaps it's British boys' taste for the sauce which puts pay to their amorous plans. Even the likes of William Hague and Euan Blair seem beyond the temptations of the demon drink.

Miss Lader was most damning of the "drunken" behaviour at British parties. Sadly, even in this discipline - or rather indiscipline - the Brits don't hold a monopoly.

While half 15-year-olds in the UK admit to regularly necking sickly alcopops or swigging from plastic bottles of cider, about the same percentage of young Americans also own up to taking an illicit tipple.


Perhaps it is not how many questions British lads ask before lunging for a kiss, but what they say which really counts.

George Washington
"Up the Republic! Down the... French?"
Miss Lader says they are prone to blow the advantage of having a "sexy" accent, using it not to trot out banter shaming Jane Austen, but for "vague and non-descript comments".

Although well versed in American life from their detailed study of Baywatch, few British boys are really equipped to sustain a weighty conversation about, say, the nation's rich history.

For example, 60% of Britons are unaware that their country lost the War of Independence which resulted in the formation of the United States.

Of course, a third of Americans aren't certain who George Washington was fighting. Some 2% think France was the foe, despite their annual Fourth of July reminder.


Scrawny, lecherous and boring. Is there nothing to redeem the British boy? Perhaps clothes can maketh the man, or at least win him some consolation points.

Unfortunately, the young blades of today have forsaken tweeds and Savile Row tailoring for "too-tight trousers... definitely a turn-off".

British officers in India
Gentlemen prefer khaki
Miss Lader suggests sirs might like to try something in a loose khaki - a style the military historians among you will know was popularised by the British Army in the mid-1800s.

To really emulate the "image-conscious" American boys, British gentlemen could do worse than consult a New York Times survey of America's sartorial favourites.

Jeans, a trouser fashioned from a blue durable twill-woven fabric, remain a popular choice among the young.

Nike is a fashion "must-have". No, not the Greek goddess of victory, daughter of the giant Pallas. It's a brand of sports shoe. How much we British men have to learn.

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10 Aug 00 | Entertainment
'Brit boys suck' - ambassador's daughter
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