The New York Times has been on the receiving end of the best of British humor after an ill-advised tweet went out from an official Twitter account asking for people’s experiences of petty crime in the capital.
Have you experienced a petty crime in London? Click to tell us your story.— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 13, 2018
(Your submission may be selected for publication.) https://t.co/MRvmXdlYC8
The tweet linked to a New York Times article which discussed London’s growing issue of violent crime. In fairness to the NYT, the issue behind their article was a genuine one. London has seen a surge in knife crime and gang-related acts over the past two years as the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, who famously clashed with President Donald Trump over the issue last year, has failed to get to grips with the problem.
But NYT reporter Ceylan Yeginsu chose instead to focus on petty crime after her apartment in London was recently burgled. She noted that between April, 2017, and April, 2018, just 4 percent of burglaries were solved in London; a shockingly low figure. She also noted that cuts to police budgets have left the Metropolitan Police force, which is responsible for London, severely stretched.
But, with one eye on a more in-depth piece, she then asked Twitter to share their experiences of petty crime in London and how the police have responded to it. And the flood-gates opened as the British Twitter users delivered to the poor NYT journalist.
The assistant editor of British newspaper The Metro set the standard with his example of petty crime.
“£40 cinema tickets at the Odeon [cinema] in Leicester Square.”
£40 cinema tickets at the Odeon in Leicester Square.— Richard HP (@richardhp) December 13, 2018
Irish actor Chris O’Dowd also joined in the fun, tweeting “bloomin chimney sweep pinched me petticoat, the cheeky sod.”
bloomin chimney sweep pinched me petticoat, the cheeky sod. #PettyCrime— chris o'dowd (@BigBoyler) December 13, 2018
That set the tone for some serious teasing of American stereotypes of the British, with Dick Van Dyke’s turn in Mary Poppins being a regular feature.
“Some guy keeps making a terrible racket on my roof. I think he’s stuffing people into chimneys. ‘Step in time,’ he keeps shouting <whispers: I don’t even think his accent is *really* British>,” commented Victoria Richards.
“My children were abducted by their nanny and discovered cavorting with a troupe of dancing chimney sweeps,” another user tweeted.
My children were abducted by their nanny and discovered cavorting with a troupe of dancing chimney sweeps.— Chris Smith (@itschrissmith) December 13, 2018
Other stereotypes were also popular.
“Ordered a tea and they put the milk in first,” commented one, while another weighed in with, “I went in a café, and the woman behind the counter pronounced scone as ‘scone.’ I called the bobbies immediately, I did.”
Ordered a tea and they put the milk in first— James Felton (@JimMFelton) December 13, 2018
But perhaps the pick of the bunch came from TV historian Greg Jenner, who said the following.
“My trusted valet Jenkins witnessed a scuffle between an errant ne’er-do-well and a learned pig over who would eat the final chestnut at the frost fair, and he was most alarmed that the pig uttered several barbed insults in the Latin tongue, but using the vocative. Most unseemly.”
My trusted valet Jenkins witnessed a scuffle between an errant ne’er-do-well and a learned pig over who would eat the final chestnut at the frost fair, and he was most alarmed that the pig uttered several barbed insults in the Latin tongue, but using the vocative. Most unseemly.— Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner) December 13, 2018
To their credit, the New York Times did appear to see the funny side of it and responded with a pretty funny gif of their own that simply said, “Touche.”