back to article A Brit in California moves to the Lone Star State – just swerve the TexMex grub

This week's expat is Derek Bergin, a self-described “Scots/Yorkshire hybrid” whose last UK residence was Milton Keynes. After the dot-bomb, he moved to California, but he has recently moved again to Texas. That makes him just about a double-expat in our eyes. Or are we overestimating the differences between Texas and …

  1. ShortLegs

    It was easier pre 9/11... That's me screwed then. In 1999 a manager at Novell was pulling his hair out because he couldn't employ me; he had to choose between two college graduates with degrees and no experience, over an experienced Brit manager with MCNE but sans degree.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Career? At my age? Not exactly at the forefront of what remains of my mind.

    Ouch. (My mind may be decaying but I know I am "Still Bob".)

    This week during contract negotiations with my primary client I was asked what my retirement plans were. And to give them a year's notice.


    I put in an ICT hardware purchase request for a Stannah stairlift.

  3. Colin Ritchie

    You almost had me packing my bags.

    Until you mentioned Genghis the Commie Pinko.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: You almost had me packing my bags.

      But it can be fun winding them up.

      "I hear it's all socialist in Europe"

      >Yes we a fire service that comes for free when you call, and police that are free, and roads and schools that are all paid for by the government

      "Er yes well,.... "

      >And we get health care for free paid by the taxpayer

      "That's what I mean - it's like communism"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blue dot in a sea of red

    That's how Austin is described. You are more likely to find a person here with 'reason' and an education that stuck. It is a university town and many people find refuge here.

    But... I still remember an upstairs neighbor practically break down crying saying "somebody I can talk to!" simply because I'd live elsewhere than Texas and wasn't rabid. (She worked for a state governmental agency downtown having moved down from the northeast) So... it's a bit uneven.

    As for what to talk about... best not. After meeting my native wife's family she asked what I'd thought about it. "Wall to wall opinions."

    Texas? Great place to live and work. Friendly, yes. Helpful, yes. Be so in return. It confuses the hell out of the natives when you turn out to be "one of those liberals!".

  5. DF118

    Smiling isn't forbidden here, being polite to other drivers isn't deviant behaviour

    I've never been to Milton Keynes, but all my smily happy friends from Scotland and Yorkshire (who are also, much like myself, polite to other drivers) tell me that everyone there is lovely.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      "Smiling isn't forbidden here, being polite to other drivers isn't deviant behaviour"

      Plenty of smiling in my world, and car drivers are becoming nauseatingly over-polite in fact going out of their way to dangerously deviate from the highway code in order to help you along in the UK these days.

      Every time I read these ex-pat interviews I find myself noting that the way the subject describes life in the UK is very different from the way I see it. I guess that's why they are still ex-pats and I'm not.

      (I lived and worked variously across the US in the 1990s but stayed back home in the UK since.)

      1. Geoffrey W


        That's because people tend to talk and describe things in generalities, and other people then respond with specifics which refute those generalities. That doesnt really argue against the points being made. Stereotypes usually become stereotypes for a reason, no matter that you can always find exceptions.

        And, on a different point: Insincere friendliness is more pleasant to tolerate than an undisguised surly bastard, no matter how honest he, or she, is.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Asking you what church you go to?

    Must be a Texas thing. I can't recall EVER having been asked that living in the US midwest most of my life, and in a few other places for short stretches.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Asking you what church you go to?

      The church question is mostly a southern "bible belt" kind of thing, though you can get it in other very rural areas or cities noted for their large evangelical population--like Colorado Springs.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: Asking you what church you go to?

        Yeah, the bible belt for sure. Besides being asked in Huntsville AL on up into TN I found a similar thing in parts of SoCal where if you aren't wearing religion on your sleeve the Christians will assume you're not religious and try to convert you. If you tell them that you are religious (Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, etc) the "professionals" will try even harder.

    2. Geoffrey W

      Re: Asking you what church you go to?

      Like others have already said: I've been asked what church I go to in every place we have lived down south (Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia; tho never in Florida). I also get asked "What guns do you have?" That's guns, plural. And I get totally bemused reactions when I say none, and that I don't want any. One gentleman questioned me about it and I told him that, back in Britain, there really isn't a gun culture and most Brits dont own guns. He looked at me in utter amazement, and asked "What! Dont you have freedom in Britain then?" I tried so hard not to laugh. He might have shot me. (Nah, not really. He was much too nice a guy to do that.)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Asking you what church you go to?

        Tell them that Brits fight with swords - like gentlemen

    3. joeldillon

      Re: Asking you what church you go to?

      I've been asked it in Ohio. Depends which bit of the Midwest you're in, I think.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course the drivers are polite in TX

    Most of the F150 (And bigger) Pickup's I've encountered in TX have a rack of rifles behind the driver. Those that don't probably have at least one gun somewhere in the vehicle or on their person.

    I was also scared shitless when one 'good ole boy' waved a big gun out of the window of his huge pickup at me. I was ridng my BMW along the interstate at the time. Visions of the final scene in 'Easy Rider' came to mind.

    As for College Football. Unless you have kids in the Education system the hysteria it generates in a total mystery to us Non Believers.

    There are some really nice Texans but there are load of complete *******

    1. Tom 13

      Re: As for College Football.

      According to Wiki, of the 10 largest stadiums in the world, 7 are in the US, and all are football stadiums. I didn't understand either until after I went to a couple of games in one of them.

      I hear the high school games down south give you a taste of what to expect in a big stadium, but only a small one.

    2. Dan Paul

      Re: Of course the drivers are polite in TX

      Just as there are "foreigners" that are complete A$$wipes. You might be a little insulated in Austin but eventually you will be out of that "bubble" and in the real part of Texas.

      Really, you have a moral obligation as a human being to not deliberately rile up the locals. You might find it funny or sarcastic, they WILL find it insulting. I've seen what happens to "Damn Yankees" in the South who don't know enough to say "Sir" or "Ma'am" to a teacher in grade school and it's not pretty.

      Never disparage a mans hat, wife, kids, guns, truck, religion, football team unless you are way bigger and brought a dozen friends with you or they mention it disparagingly FIRST. Then they are inviting you to comment, but that's also a "test".

      Your comments will color what the locals will believe about ALL Brits, forever. Most of the "Good ole boys" are willing to be reasonable to the uninitiated, but if you are just a snarky b*astard then you might understand they are going to wipe the smirk off your face (along with your teeth).

      1. Kubla Cant

        Re: Of course the drivers are polite in TX

        Never disparage a mans hat, wife, kids, guns, truck, religion, football team unless you are way bigger and brought a dozen friends with you

        I take it from your spelling of "color" that you're American, so I don't want to be rude. But I have to say that disparagement of most of the above list would scarcely provoke a physical attack in most parts of the world. Are Texans really that violent?

  8. phil dude

    friendly texans...

    I got a ride at 4 am by 2 friendly (and mad!) Texans in a Chicago winter...

    SC15 is in Austin this year....


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    friendly texans

    I used to enjoy working and talking with Texans, we always had something in common: Americans could not understand either of our accents

    1. bfwebster

      Re: friendly texans

      We we moved to Houston in 1979, my [former] wife and I became friends with the couple next door in our apartment complex. They had a young (~5 yrs old) son whom they called by his initials, "J. F."

      At least that's what I thought until I learned his name was actually "Jeff" and his mom made two syllables of it ("Jay-eff! Jay-eff, where are you?").

      Our youngest (at the time) daughter Bethan (b. 1979) learned to speak while we were in Houston and kept a Texas twang to her voice until high school.

  10. Eddy Ito


    Be sure to remember that's US football which manages to pack in 10 to 15 minutes of action1 into every hour of game time (three hours real time).

    1. By NFL rules where the clock continues to run while players mill about smartly between snaps. Note the popularity of the "two minute drill / hurry up offense" at the end of each half where you can see nearly a third of the action in the entire game in a few minutes.

  11. Eric Olson

    As a resident of the frozen wasteland up north...

    I can understand the fear of snow and sub-0C temps for 3-6 months a year, but as I'm sure Texas residents would concur, even the slightest hint of water freezing causes them to hunker down like Armageddon is about to hit (never mind the Rapture-lusting contingent). And it's not like Texas doesn't get cold itself, and being a state with little to do in the winter months while not getting cold enough to support winter sports like skiing, I've heard some pretty miserable stories about December through February down there. At least up here on the other end of I-35, we have other things to do and the infrastructure to handle it.

    Also, the further north you go, you get away from some of those weird Bible Belt situations... though you do get dangerously close to Canada.

  12. Geoffrey W

    I have one little anecdote that sums up the difference I have found between people in Britain and the USA (excluding people in the bigger cities like New York).

    I lived on the Gulf coast for a while and one day whilst walking on a pier by the beach I saw a lady with a pram (baby buggy) with people smiling as they walked by. As we went by I looked down and saw in the buggy, not a baby, but a duck. A full grown fat feathery mallard chunnering up at everyone who passed and spoke to it and its pusher. And everyone, of whatever age, was friendly, smiling, chatting to the lady like it was the totally charming thing that it actually was. I thought about back home and pondered that if the lady had done the same thing where I came from she would have found herself hounded and taunted by a pack of sniggering, laughing, rude, abusive, teenagers, and probably a few adults too.

    Generally speaking; UK==rude; USA==friendly. YMMV.

    1. Geoffrey W

      Duck Duck, GO!

      I suppose the down voters are the ones who would have been mocking the lady walking her duck by the beach, which doesn't really prove anything because there is another general rule here:

      Real life==Friendly; Intenet==Rude.

      As my (American) wife says - I love you anyway.

      1. Dan Paul

        Re: Duck Duck, GO!

        You might have mastered coexistence. The downvoters are all pikers anyway. Have an upvote!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Generally speaking; UK==rude; USA==friendly. YMMV.

      I'd have said UK==politely reserved, USA==insincerely friendly, F̶r̶a̶n̶c̶e̶ Paris==rude.

  13. sandman

    Friendly Americans

    I've found the vast majority of Americans to be really friendly - and mean it. In the US the comment "you must come and visit" actually means what it says. In the UK it quite often means "I really hope I never see you again" ;-)

  14. bfwebster

    Lived in Texas twice -- still have fond memories

    American, not British. Lived in Houston back in 1979-81 -- working first at NASA/JSC (for a major contractor), then at the Lunar & Planetary Institute. While I love Texas (and would be happy to move back), I can't recommend Houston as a city to live in -- besides the awful climate, in an urban sense it combines the worst of Los Angeles, Texas itself, and the Deep South (which is different from Texas) all in one place.

    Lived in Dallas nearly 20 years later; enjoyed it very much. People are remarkably polite, friendly, and accepting.

    And, yeah, Texas is big, especially if you're from Europe. When I lived in Houston, I discovered that El Paso was actually about 40 miles closer to San Diego -- three states over and on the Pacific Ocean -- than it was to Houston. An old refrain for travelers is, "The sun is riz / The sun is set / And we ain't out / Of Texas yet." Truer than you might think.

  15. Huw D

    Austin - fond memories

    I was in Austin in Sept 2014 for just over a week. Loved the place and the people. I'd move today if the opportunity arose.

  16. Patrician

    Friendly Americans

    I would much rather have the more reserved, but honest, British attitude to strangers but that said I see plenty of smiles and polite drivers every day here in the UK.

  17. Valerion

    Friend of mine

    Moved to Texas a few years back. He was never religious at all, but nowadays he sometimes put some religious nonsense on his Facebook. I can't work out if he has actually been converted or just does it to fit in.

    Incidentally he remains the only person I know who has shot and killed a man (who broke into his house).

    1. Marshalltown

      Re: Friend of mine

      Religion is something of an American disease. Even us USians tend to be extra careful around strangers. You can never tell just how odd their thought patterns may be.

      However, you want to recall that a survey in Britain in the '70s found that while less than half the UK population believed in a deity, over 70 percent believed in the devil.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Friend of mine

      Good for him!

  18. Marshalltown


    There are two major and quite distinct traditions in "cowboying" in the US. Texas and the midwest is one. The other comes from California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington often known as the "buckaroo" tradition. The word is a rough literal Anglicization of "vaquerro." The two tradtions are distinct to the degree that hats, clothes, roping styles, and saddles are different. Texan saddles are equipped with a cinch and a "safety belt." "Real" western saddles are single cinched (Texas is after all far east of the far west; it's on the Mississippi after all, and any real westerner knows you can't much farther east than that without being in Europe, or worse in Washington. D.C. ;-)). One fascinating point for an English reader is that Richard Francis Burton (later knighted) discussed this dichotomy briefly in his book about the Mormons and the overland trip California in 1860.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cowboys

      Wait, Texas is on the Mississippi?? When did they move it?

    2. Lord_Butt

      Re: Cowboys

      The Texas saddle to which you refer is called a double rig or Texas rig; i.e., it evolved after many cowboys were killed by roping wild longhorn steers, expecting one cinch to hold the saddle in place. Single rig saddles could not hold a wild longhorn steer. With a double rig he might pull your horse over, but he won't turn your saddle sideways or run away with it. The second (back cinch) was cinched loose when not working longhorns.

  19. Lord_Butt

    Welcome to Texas. You are obviously Texas material, even with that taint of liberalism. Might you ask yourself why there is no Texas income tax? After all it's liberals, not Texans, who just love spending other peoples money.

    We live in Midland, on the high dessert plains, where you can watch a G5 landing next to an oil well where a horse wearing a Texas double rig is tied to it. When we tire of the open vista, we go to our lake house in Kingsland in the Texas hill country, where the Colorado and the Lano rivers converge into Lake LBJ, about 50 miles northwest of Austin. It's only 266 miles (428 kilometers).

    Again, welcome.

  20. Dan 10

    Worked in Houston at HP labs for a week

    That was cool. The steak and the shrimp etoufe (spelling?) were good. The two HP engineers assigned to my project didn't know each other, we all got on great, but as per my colleague's (from Kansas city) advice, I was extremely careful around politics - their very own George W was POTUS at the time.

    There was, however, an odd moment where one of the HP guys recalled a childhood memory (as a 15-year-old) of standing in the back of his dad's pickup at 40mph offroad while simultaneously wedging his legs in the bars behind the cab and wielding a rifle one-handed trying to shoot a fleeing deer or some other poor beast. Properly mental stuff. Only for the other engineer to exclaim that he had almost the same experience in his own childhood. No, seriously, I'm not even joking. The only reason these guys were't wearing sidearms was because HP had a company policy of no weapons on site.

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