The English Guide To Being English

English Guide

Over the years I’ve written a lot about the Dutch and their funny little habits and traditions but I’ve never really written about my equally weird fellow Englishman. This seems somehow unfair since (as I will admit myself) we all know the English can be fairly strange and peculiar themselves (even if we are more prim and proper and know the correct layout for cutlery at a tea party). To rectify this injustice I have decided to turn the focus onto my fellow tea drinkers and expose just what it is that makes us tick.

The English Guide To Being English

Whenever you are discussing the habits of the English it is important to know that the English really like to apologise. It does not matter what it is for, if there is something that requires an apology the English are more than happy to provide it. Even when it seems like something might need apologizing for in the future we will preemptively apologise to minimize any inconvenience. This is because the English hate inconvenience. In fact, if an official 1 to 10 scale of things English people like and dislike was ever created (1 being the least liked and 10 being the most liked) inconvenience would be at number 1 and apologizing would be at number 10.

Even in rare situations when an Englishman cannot find anything to apologise about they will apologise anyway… just in case. And then they will most likely apologise again for the inconvenience of having apologized when they are told there was nothing to apologise about in the first place. It is a vicious circle.

When in the comfort of his fellow countrymen the Englishman’s second favorite thing to do is complain. Again, it does not matter what it is about. It could be something trivial like a slow waiter at a restaurant or something important like the tea not being the correct temperature, the English are simply happy to have something to complain about.

However, the English cannot be ‘seen’ to be complaining because doing so would lead to another need to apologise for being an inconvenience. This is why the Englishman can only complain in the comfort and safety of those who share his opinions and views and will not actually challenge or asked him to make a more valid argument beyond; “Because it’s simply not cricket.”

The kind of complaining the Englishman likes to do the most is comparing things to how they used to be better. This is most noticeably noticed in conversations that start with the phrase, “Well in my day…” followed about some statement about the youth of today, their habits or choice in music (or as it is more commonly known in such conversations; ‘noise’).

This usually leads to a kind of one-up-mans-ship about the way things used to be better with the oldest in the group always winning because as all English people know the older things are the better they were (including the time when we were all having bombs dropped on us). Such conversations usually end with apologies to the oldest member of the conversation for the inconvenience of having to prove he was right and listening to people who were wrong.

8 responses to “The English Guide To Being English”

  1. Alison says:

    I’m terribly sorry for leaving a comment, which you should feel absolutely no need to respond to whatsoever. I’d hate to be an inconvenience, like those young whippersnappers nowadays.

    My British mother raised me well. ;)

  2. HolmesInterventionsLtd says:

    I’ve just apologised to someone who was blocking the doorway and failed to respond to both my ‘pardon’ and my ‘mag ik even langs…’. Delightfully, she turned out to be English too and apologised immediately, for about three minutes.

  3. Citizen Stu says:

    Alison – Oh no. It’s no inconvenience at all. I’m sorry that it might have seen like it was. Gosh. I feel terrible now. Please, I apologise for making you think you had to apologise.

    HolmesInteventionsLtd – Only three minutes? Are you sure she was English?

  4. I was suddenly reminded of the time I read “Brit-think, Ameri-think” by Jane Walmsley. The author makes a point that while Americans readily accept, hell, are even lured into believing that “NEW is BETTER,” the English are quite fond of the notion of “we’ve always done it this way.”

    It makes me wonder if the “NEW is BETTER” iPhone was a difficult product to market in Britain. :P

    My copy of the book is currently in the hands of one of my dear French friends who, as an English teacher, thought it was a riot to compare the differences between English speakers on both sides of the pond.

  5. Wezz6400 says:

    In my days a young man such as yourself would have been hung, drawn and quartered for painting such a negative picture of our great nation. However as the poofs that run this country these days believe such things are no longer of value that will not happen. As such, I demand an apology!

    (Can I apply for a Brittish passport now?)

  6. Dave2 says:

    No matter how quirky and crazy the English are in real life… it pales in comparison to the stereotypes that Americans have attributed them.

    I blame Benny Hill. It was all downhill from there.

  7. ebe says:

    By some bizarre coincidence I ended up watching “European Vacation” last night after reading this post. if you’ve never had a chance to watch this masterpiece of American cinema (or any of it’s series counterparts) here’s a clip of the apologetic English from it with the great Eric Idle:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsM0CwqGrBs

  8. Citizen Stu says:

    Barb – New iphone? I’m still using a carrier pidgin.

    Wezz6400 – Sorry? :p

    Dave2 – I did have a good laugh when I went to Florida and all the American’s I met started telling me their ideas of what England was like. One asked (and I quote) “Do you guys still build castles… because we’ve started building them over here.” I might have to blog about that one day.

    ebe – Yep. that’s about right :)

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