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It would be unreasonable to assume that every Australian drinks Fosters, all Americans love baseball, and that the Japanese only eat sushi. Yet when it comes to the British, people all over the world have preconceived ideas about us all loving Marmite and living in London. Let’s set the record straight, once and for all.
The Aussies may have introduced the flat white to us, but it’s no use trying to talk a Brit out of a good ol’ cuppa. We love it. Not the herbal fancy stuff – we want builder’s brew, the colour of he-man. Moreover, nobody is critiqued on how many cups of tea they drink in this nation. One, three, nine; the only thing we will judge is which brand of tea you drink and the order in which you put the milk.
Not that different from relaxing with a cuppa, really. It’s familiar, and quite often just around the corner. Whether it’s inside among the dark wood panelling and soggy carpets, or outside in the beer garden on a summer’s day, the pub is like a communal living room in your neighbourhood. As such, there’s no appropriate time to assert your attendance at the pub: lunchtime for beer, 4pm for wine or a 9.30 night cap – you don’t need a reason. It all adds up, though…
…Of alcohol – that is. When we’re not drinking tea, we’re drinking alcohol. Beer, wine, cider, spirits, alcoholic ice lollies – it all goes down a treat. And of course, we don’t need an excuse: brunch is now bottomless, the weekend starts on Wednesday, and there are gin distillers popping up all over the country faster than mushrooms after rainfall. It’s part of our DNA, something we do especially well when travelling abroad. And no, we’re not planning on giving up any time soon.
Well, come on, you’ve seen our weather: cloudy with a chance of grey, 70% chance of showers, top of 17 with some potential late sun. The weather changes its mind more often than Trump, so forgive us for wanting to have a moan about it because, quite frankly, it can get expensive buying a new umbrella every month.
And because of the aforementioned lack of glorious sunshine, it’s no wonder so many Brits burn so easily. It’s glaringly obvious when someone’s been on holiday and neglected to believe that factor 50 was invented for a reason. We’ll say you’re glowing when, in fact, we mean ‘You’re as red as the tomato in my caprese’. #spotthebritabroad
We do it very well. Take, for instance, the Wimbledon queue: people camp out for days on grass for tickets that essentially allow them to sit and watch more grass. One theory for the origin of this ‘civilized behaviour’ stems from the world wars and the rationing of everyday goods; queuing effectively meant everyone could get a share of the limited supplies. It thus formed notions of decency, and now we just queue for anything. The bank, the post office, the bar – heck, we’ll even join a long queue just in the hopes that there’s something good at the front.
If you haven’t heard a Brit say the word ‘sorry’ at least five times in the past two hours, you’d better check your location settings. Some say it’s because we feel responsible for our terrible weather and food, so we feel the need to apologise for everything: being early, being late, sneezing, asking for the bill, making eye contact during sex, having sex, Nigel Farage.
All this apologising is because we’re polite and don’t like to cause a scene or complain (except about the weather, but we apologise for that). We tend to swallow bad service at a restaurant, eat stale sandwiches, and even take the blame when it’s not our fault (Nigel Farage). Give us two glasses of wine, however, and you’ll know exactly how we feel.
Politeness is a culturally defined marvel, and thus what is considered good manners in one culture can actually sometimes come across as quite rude or rather odd in another. To cut a long story short, we’re passive aggressive: ‘I’d love for you to come around for dinner!’ (I’d rather eat an uncooked pizza in my bathroom than have you over); ‘I only have a few small comments’ (Rewrite the entire thing, you idiot).
We’ve spent all this time being polite to you, apologising profusely, then secretly having a bitch about you behind your back – so please, please don’t confront us about it, okay? This is why we’ve mastered the art of small talk, to avoid awkward social situations. Now sod off and let us eat our curry chips in peace.
We might be a ‘posh’ bunch, but our refined status falls short at the dishes most synonymous with Britain: marmite on toast, chips with curry sauce, Spam and stodgy rice puddings. Not precisely what one would call ‘culinary sophistication’ – however, the reality is, we actually do eat other foods (well, hangover days excluded) and London now has 66 Michelin-starred restaurants. And, wasn’t it us who invented afternoon tea and the sandwich? Ah-hem.
This one we will deny. Have you watched Geordie Shore?
We love her. In an age of over-sharing, she maintains her haughty habit of under-sharing, and we still don’t know what she’s really thinking, 65 years on. She has a sound sense of style, still rides her horses despite her 91 years and, come on, what’s Christmas Day without a right royal broadcast?
We might yield a strong affection for the monarch, but in Britain there are several types of citizenship and some nationals who are not citizens at all. Confused? So are we. But essentially there are six different types: British citizens, British subjects, British overseas citizens, British overseas territories citizens, British overseas nationals, or British protected persons. Hmmm. We think it’s time for a cup of tea.