Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hi, Henry!

Henry Fairlie wrote for a few papers in Fleet Street London before coming to America for a three month visit in 1966. He never went back to England.

I didn’t know of Henry or his writing until a few days ago. The title of a collection of his writings caught my eye as very funny: “Bite The Hand That Feeds You: Essays and Provocations”. It was to be the title of his memoir, which he started, submitting a large portion to a publisher in London who mistakenly destroyed the manuscript after rejecting it because Fairlie’s agent said Fairlie had a copy. His other unfinished book recounting his counter-clockwise roadtrip alone around America was to be called “Into America”. A great deal of that manuscript survives. Henry Fairlie died in 1990.

In one essay called, “My America!”, Henry talks about the wonderful American greeting, “Hi!”. He remarks that in England people judge you, your class and education based upon your greeting but in America he noticed that most everyone just says, Hi!

For Henry: Hi! = Democracy.

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