Not so common

Only "an American idiot", according to Andrew Martin (Class Conscious, 9 July), should ask: "Can I get a pint of milk?" But were I accosted in a shop by Martin's alternative, "Can I have a pint of milk?", I should respond as my uncommon dad would have: "Well, I don't know whether you 'can' or not, Bobby, but you certainly may have a pint of milk."

Robert M Johnstone
Department of Politics, Earlham College
Richmond, Indiana, USA

This article first appeared in the 23 July 2001 issue of the New Statesman, In the line of fire