For some time now our city of Bristol has developed a special relationship with Bristol, England.
Our Bristol council visits their council, and vice-versa.
Over time that relationship has developed into a friendship between Bristol, Tennessee councilman David Shumaker and a councilor, as they're called, from England. We spoke with the councilor to get his take on our Bristol.
There are lots of towns and cities names Bristol besides just Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia. A special friendship has developed between a Bristol, England government leader and one from Bristol, Tennessee.
The Englishman became curious about our city of Bristol back in 2003. "I don't know much about about it. I saw they got a race track but don't know much about it. So I thought I'll send this e-mail to their office and say, 'you mind if I come by and pop in?' I thought I'd walk in the door and say nice to be here, shake hands, cup of coffee and conversation and be gone," Bristol, England Councilor Mark Brian said.
He was unaware of just how our Southern hospitality works. "I come here, I speak to local council. They treat it like I was a member of the royal family or something. They put me up in a former senator's home for the night. We had a lovely meal with council of Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia," he said.
There was lot for him to learn about the differences in the two cities in two different countries with different types of people. "First time I went into a store in Tennessee, [they said[ 'hi, how are you, come on in.' I'm thinking, 'does she think I'm somebody else? Does she think I'm a relative or someone she went to school with?' But no, that's how people are. People are friendly here and I like that," he said.
And he should -- his wife is from Ohio and how they met is another story. "We were pen pals. This is pre-internet, when people actually wrote letters," he says.
"My name went on his list and I got a letter from someone in England. I thought, 'alright, fine, I'll read it. I won't write but I'll read it anyway.' The letter was the first letter that I've ever read that actually made me start laughing out loud so I'll give it a chance," his wife Colleen said.
That was almost 27 years and two children ago. Now that's diplomacy.