I am about as British as they come. I am currently reading Kate Fox’s book, ‘Watching the English’ and as far as I can see, am the epitome of all things good, bad and plainly odd about the English. A few examples:
. I share the same rather dry, self deprecating and ironical humour of my fellow Brits.
. I cringe at the ‘too gushing’, ‘overfamiliar’ or ‘over enthusiastic’ preferring the British understatement. (Eg when suffering bronchial pneumonia, to describe it as ‘a bit of a bother’)
. I too endure the awkwardness of replying “how do you do?” when asked the same question even though it actually isn’t a question to be answered but simply to be repeated.
. And, after twenty painful minutes of goodbyes in various forms with promises to meet up soon with someone whom we know our husband loathes, we sigh a momentous sigh of relief and swear that we’ll never do it again … but we always do, after all, wouldn’t it be rude not to?
And I haven’t even reached the chapter on queuing which I am sure is imminent.
These are in truth, slightly strange foibles and yet having had them soaked into us by way of osmosis since birth, they are our “normal”. Nevertheless I am sure that to non-Brits they are also rather peculiar, even slightly irritating and without doubt, confusing.
And as someone who is soon to be moving to the States, I do wonder if my fellow Americans from across the pond have any interesting quirks that I should be aware of I should loathe to make a faux pas or twenty on the first day. To date I have found everyone remarkably jolly and inclusive, but perhaps they were just being polite to this strange English woman …
In order to err on the side of caution, I have therefore made some preliminary enquiries and so far have established the following:
Apparently we Brits work shorter hours, have more holiday and get up later in the mornings. However, supposedly we get more exercise and eat less pizza but drink far more tea.
Also, I understand that pants are not referring to ones underwear, but instead, to trousers.
A purse is a handbag, not a … purse.
And if you are pissed, you’re not sublimely cream-crackered or a teensy bit tipsy, you’re actually rather cross.
So with all this information to hand, I’ve told my husband to prepare himself for a long working day, to put the bowler hat into storage, and should I ever get pissed, to remind me to not try to hide my purse in my pants … it clearly wouldn’t work.
Just to clarify however …
a) I don’t get ‘pissed’ in case anyone is wanting to throw that at me (!) and
b) I don’t recall ever having tried to hide my purse down my knickers … my bra yes, but that was when I was travelling through some very dodgy areas on a particularly bad holiday many years ago … I did have to put a sock in the other side as I was a tad unbalanced and lumpy, but crikey, despite being rather broke, I found it was quite an impressively exciting sight.
Anyway, should anyone have any suggestions or tips, you could not find a more grateful recipient.