I’ve spent the past 10 days living in San Francisco on an extended trip for work. I’ll be spending more time here this year, all going well, and I can’t find too much to complain about. Mostly, I like San Francisco. I mean, it’s stupidly expensive and everyone takes themselves a little too seriously, but it’s a good sort of serious. Like they’re seriously into their thing, man.

In the tech capital of the world. Lots of people reading, but I’m yet to see a Kindle. HOORAY for books!

Of the many things we would tick off our list of cultural experiences in the US, I hadn’t really considered low-budget air travel as high on the list. We were flying Frontier from Des Moines to Denver, dumping our “executive SUV” (as the Budget salesman pimped it when selling in the upgrade; we were so over-tired and jetlagged we didn’t even notice we were being upsold, we were too busy nodding and signing anything he put in front of us) that had so comfortably conveyed us across the past 1300 miles.

It was in South Dakota and Grinnell when it sank in: Americans really are nice to each other practically all of the time. And they mostly seem to really mean it. This comes as complete culture shock to any Brit, I suspect, but particularly to Londoners. Our lives as social animals revolve around restraint, concealing or counterfeiting emotion, exuding disinterest or engaging in combative exchanges of chiselled sarcasm. Nothing is so terrible that you can’t make a joke about it, and snide comments are just another way in which we protect ourselves from baring our souls. London takes everything and nothing seriously, so oscillates between gaiety and aggression in a whirlwind of sniggering, shouting and rude remarks.