One of my core beliefs about life in general is that America is a much stranger place than most of us realise. We think we know America because we watch all their movies and TV programmes, and to an extent that is true.
So we rarely stop to wonder why we can indeed watch their TV programmes, no problem, yet they seem to have a problem watching ours.
Why, for example, do they need to make their own version of The Office, when the original one made in England is regarded as an all-time TV comedy classic?
Yes, I know there are basic cultural differences, but Ireland has basic cultural differences to England, and yet it never crosses our minds that there is any difficulty for us to be watching The Office in its natural state, as it were.
As for America itself, we have never had a problem relating to any of their programmes, from LA to New York.
We just accept it, and get on with it, and usually we enjoy it. We are able to make the simple adjustment that is required to relate to the doings of these characters, be it Columbo at a Malibu mansion, or David Brent in a boring office near Slough - we find that this is within the scope of our imagination.
America isn't like that: it seems that they need to go to the trouble of making an entirely new series of their own using the Ricky Gervais version of The Office as a template, because they can't take the risk of giving their audience this Office that is unfamiliar to them - leaving aside the fact that on the face of it, the bigger risk would seem to lie in trying to re-create a comedy which originally relied so much for its success on the most intricate nuances, the slightest shifts in emphasis or tone. Yes, they're prepared to take that risk, because the other risk is mostly unacceptable.
Then again, they have the terrifying precedent whereby even Fawlty Towers flopped in America. That would be Fawlty Towers, in case you thought there was a glitch in the proof-reading there.
Obviously we in Ireland 'got' Basil Fawlty straight away, but I recall reading one analysis of its failed American journey which suggested that in the US, for reasons which I do not understand, Manuel would have been preferred as the main character.
Manuel of course is hilarious, but clearly Basil is even more hilarious - in every 'territory' except one.
And we shouldn't be congratulating ourselves here on our superior ability to appreciate the riches of other cultures; instead it would be a better idea to wonder why we are not more astonished than we are at these apparently profound differences between us and them.
Last week this American exceptionalism reached its apogee as we watched CNN telling us that the Democrats had made such a mess of the Iowa caucuses that for a long time they had no idea who had won, and who had lost.
Today in Ireland, we are looking at an Election Special on a Sunday, a rare thing, but all the better because there is no meaningful action in the Premier League to take us away from such light entertainment.
And yes, it sometimes takes a while to get the result of an election confirmed under the complex rules of PR, but at least we have a sense that the electoral system itself is probably as straight as it could ever be, given the fallen nature of Man.
Meanwhile in the States, it looked like Iowa was needing UN election observers like they do in those unfortunate African countries where democracy hasn't really taken hold.
Remarkable - but we're not perfect either. During Dr Eva's Great Escape, I couldn't help noticing that as she was entering a café bar with her mother, Dr Eva was wearing high boots. But as she sat in the café, she wasn't wearing the high boots. A 'continuity error' perhaps?
Whatever went wrong there, they'd never let that sort of thing happen in America.
Sunday Indo Living