I’m intrigued by the difference in the reaction in England and the States to the news that the Damson Dene Hotel has replaced the Gideon bible with Fifty Shades of Grey (see link to earlier blog). In England the response has been overwhelmingly favourable. Everyone to whom I’ve told the story has roared with laughter, whatever their religious beliefs. People have seen it as a bit of fun and almost no one has been offended. The only complaint we’ve had from a guest at the Damson Dene has been when their promised copy of Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t there in their room, because the previous occupant had taken it home with them.
It’s been a different matter in the Sates. As soon as the story broke there we started to receive dozens of emails. Some of them were supportive, but many weren’t. I’ve looked through all the emails we received yesterday from the States and there were 85 that told us off for removing the bible. Of these, 32 admonished us pleasantly and courteously, but 42 weren’t at all nice. My favourite expression amongst many terms of abuse was one which called me “a puppet of Satan”. But it was the remaining 11 emails which tickled me most. In these the sender pretended that they had just been about to making a booking at the Damson Dene, but had changed their mind. One said “our company was going to have a major conference with you” another “we will not be returning” (they’ve never stayed). My favourite was the woman who wrote: “seven friends and I were about to reserve a month, perhaps six weeks in your hotel for next fall.” As the Damson Dene has only rarely had a visitor from the States we know these statements are false.
I don’t think for a minute that this very un-Christian combination of lies, threats and intimidation is in any way typical of the average American. A truer picture might be gleaned from the NBC website which, alongside the story, had a poll asking the question “Which book would you be more likely to pick up in your hotel room?” A whopping 31,648 people took part in the poll, and to my surprise Fifty Shades of Grey easily beat the bible. Fifty Shades got 42% of the vote, the bible 37%, with the remaining 21% preferring “another book”.
It’s been a fascinating glimpse into life in America. I love that country, but I have to say, I’m glad I’m here.