THERE are advantages to being a British traveller in America. Sadly, you are not likely to experience them. That is because, like lemmings, you only want to go to California, Florida and New York.

Oh, sure, they would love to have you in Missouri and Tennessee, good- natured places where the folks find you novel and entertaining and assume that even if you are in no way royal yourself, you probably know someone who is. The wild American frontier of stage- coaches and steer round-ups is now home to inveterate fans of Dynasty, who spend idle time reading Barbara Cartland and speculating over just what Joan Collins must be telling the Queen these days at tea. Imagine their delight at being able to offer you a beer (ice cold]) and some barbecue (spicy hot]) and a souvenir cowboy hat to take back home to poor little Prince Harry.

But no, you want to go to LA, where they will know you by your chalky skin and knobbly legs. There are vast hordes of you in LA: squinting, ogling the surfers, suffering sunstroke, willing to take a menial job at some pathetically nostalgic Lion's Head Pub if it means you can stay in this place where it never even threatens to rain.

No, Los Angeles has its own royalty. It does not need you. Being from the land of Shakespeare and all those tell- all books about Princess Di, you will only be perceived as a threat by everybody who is trying to sell a screenplay or be an extra on Beverly Hills 90210; that is, everybody. Explaining you are on holiday will not help. No one will believe you.

What is it with you guys and Disney? If it's not Anaheim, it's Orlando. An astounding 65 per cent of the Britons who visit America go to Florida, with most making a beeline for Walt's place as if on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Is it because here, of all places, you will be allowed, encouraged even, to act silly? Inevitably, your genetic inability to tan will betray you. Standing on line to ride Pirates of the Caribbean for the 11th time, you will be picked out: 'The next group forms just to the back of Prince Charles there,' a giant Mickey Mouse will bellow. Your inability to function in 95 per cent humidity is also well known; look at all the mischief you got into in India. Then there is the salsa thing. You guys just are not connected to Latin culture. Let's face it, you look silly dancing the lambada. Don't do it.

Still, it is in New York that you will really find the going rough. It starts with the customs at Kennedy airport, where the queue will make the Sisyphus scenario seem an attractive alternative. This is not the EC, you know. Then you stand for a good hour trying to hail the taxis with their top lights off (they are occupied). Hit the clubs in Manhattan and we will think that you are here only to weasel a green card and nab a job in publishing.

Tina Brown likes to tell the story of how she was hired at Vanity Fair after turning heads at Tatler: en route to a vacation in Bermuda, she made what she thought would be a brief stop in New York. She never left. Now she is taking over as editor of the standard-bearer of American culture, the New Yorker. Wonder why we don't trust you?

As inhabitants of a real money town, New Yorkers will also resent the fact that yours is worth more than ours. I mean, we loved you guys in '82 when the pound was worth about a buck. Now we have to put up with you wandering through endless Gap stores asking 'Is this in dollars or pounds?' and your obscene sniggering when the answer is dollars. Don't gloat just because Doc Martens cost dollars 50 here and no one makes snap judgements about your political agenda if you wear them.

So what are those advantages you are missing? Out in the hinterland, the theory persists that British means 'class'. This is because class is still a very murky subject in America, and when the average middle-class American says 'We have no classes,' somewhere in the back of his mind is the thought: 'We have no class.'

You lineage-tracing Anglo-Saxons surely do, which is why Americans who live in suburban subdivisions with names like Nottingham Oaks and Sherwood Forest, with their Jack Russell terriers and faux-Brit sheepdogs named Chumley or Bentley will want to take you home to meet the neighbours. Your accent alone will be socially uplifting for them. Their friends will coo after prodding you to utter authentic Brit-isms such as 'chemist', 'boot' and 'lorry'. They will ask what you wore to Ascot and volunteer to take you to baseball games and show you a real pitch.

Then there is the business of eccentricity. Webster's Collegiate Dictionary illustrates the word 'eccentric' with an etching of a white-haired sergeant-major retired from Her Majesty's Imperialist forces. So while our own old folks are dismissed as doddering and infirm, yours are considered delightfully jolly and amusing. Our senior citizens play bingo. Yours climb K2.

Last, because the vast majority of Americans have never actually left their country, you will also benefit from the fact that no one here will associate you with the delightful English soccer fan whose reputation precedes him on the Continent. This exemption, however, will expire in 1994 after we host the World Cup.

Since the root of all our stereotypes is the rot we watch on television, you can learn to play this game to your advantage. That is, pick your own cliche before you come. Wearing tweeds you will be Sherlock Holmes. In Sloane Ranger romantic florals you will be Laura Ashley, patron saint of the American bridesmaid. An outsized schoolboy suit makes pedestrians cry 'Benny Hill]' Then there is the Chelsea/Bryan Ferry thing, the shoulder pads, the Jasper Conran stitching. At the sight of this, art-school bands will swoon with ennui. A bowler hat means you are undercover, an Avenger, or perhaps some stuffy MP.

Thanks in part to the Irish export Sinead O'Connor, a shaved head has become fashionable here. A shaved head is worldly, multi-ethnic: everyone's is untanned. With a Gap T-shirt and Levis you could pass.

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