The weekly email exchanges I have with the HuffPost mothership in America are usually fairly straightforward; we swap ideas for global reporting features, maybe pass requests on for a new piece of functionality. And then, every now and again, I have to explain an odd British quirk to a befuddled Yank reading an article on the UK version of the site and coming up against a brick wall of comprehension. We may share a common language, but there's still plenty of translating that needs doing.
For the past few weeks, however, it's mainly been the other way round. Asked what Brits thought of the political shutdown which has Washington DC, and all manner of industries and businesses on the other side of the pond, in limbo, I had to admit the main response was a rather smug, it-would-never-happen-to-us shoulder raise.
The Times on Saturday described America's government shutdown as "humiliating", which seems bang on the money (or lack of it, as the case may be). Hilary Clinton, meanwhile, called it "distressing", during a speech in London where she was collecting an award from the think tank Chatham House. And although an end may be in sight, with a possible deal laid on the table on Friday to break the stalemate, no-one is coming out of the saga particularly well.
While we may not understand the America's ability to cripple their own political machine, a country that will defend to its bitter end freedom of speech most certainly doesn't understand the ongoing press regulation debacle in the UK. Or as someone on Twitter put it, the British press' campaign to retain the right to knock merry hell out of each other. Which they have, of course, been doing with wanton abandonment this week.
Nearly a year after Sir Brian Leveson delivered his recommendations, the three main political parties this week rejected a version of the royal charter drawn up by most of the major newspaper groups, and instead delivered an updated version of their own. Is there a conclusion in sight? Not that I can see.
Whether the US understand us or not, its citizens are still keen to visit in their millions, even without a Diamond Jubilee or Olympic Games to attract them. In fact, one of the biggest tourist attractions of the last 12 months were our rocking music festivals, which lured a massive 6.5million fans into the country. And while the average festival goer is more likely to sleep under canvas than in one of Britain's five-star hotels, they're still contributing a healthy sum to the nation's coffers, spending an average of £910 per festival, which equates to a tidy £2.2billion when you add in all the money spent at other live music events. George Osborne should factor that in as he plans his Autumn Statement.
And so to the final email of the week from my American friends? "Carla, what on earth is a penis beaker?"
I'm still working on my reply.Suggest a correction