I take it my civil duty as an immigrant to have a go at the Brits and the stereotypes about them. After all this is something they taught us at our English lessons at school.
There’s one thing that makes way more sense to me than before coming to the island: The Pythons. Not in a sense that I understand them better language-wise but that I know where their stuff is coming from. I date all Monty Python fans to spend a month in Britain and then have a ‘And now for something completely different’ marathon. I truly is hard to make a decent joke on the British and their ways after the masters did such a brilliant job. But here goes nothing. My aim of spittle towards the large spittoon that is English stereotypes.
The first thing one notices – even if one is blind, drunk and dumb – is that they really are way too polite. If I had a twenty pence for every ‘sorry’ I hear I’d be one rich sorry guy. That doesn’t mean they really mean it. Oh no, they’ll probably forget you ever existed the moment you disappeared from their peripheral vision. Which is probably the only sane thing to do in a 12-million city. Same goes for ‘thank you’ and ‘I appreciate it’. There’s loads of ‘If sentences’ in their software ending in ‘then say “Thank you.”’
Oh and if you get ask if you’re all right don’t go thinking how bad you must look and explaining that your mother-in-law’s cat just died and you have really mixed feeling about this since it was just left week that she went for vacation and you were the one taking care of the poofy bastard. It basically means ‘Hi’ and is to be replied by repeating the same question.
(remember the opening of ‘The meaning of life’? With the fish overly greeting each other?)
I can’t really say all the fuss about the tea is absolutely true since the take-away coffee is omnipresent on their daily commutes. One would, however, expect that the land that gave the world Jamie, Gordon and Heston could come up with something better than fish & chips. OK, there are meat pies which are, hands down, quite delicious. But, honestly, stuffing a pie with meat and potatoes and stating ‘yes, this is what our nation will be proud of’… I don’t know. Lacks a bit of imagination if you ask me. Then there’s sausages, beans and potatoes. Which you get pretty much with everything (and would you like spam with that, ma’am?).
But they do make it up when it comes to sandwiches. Oh yes. One can only be amazed about inventiveness when it comes to putting stuff between two slices of bread. Quite a difference from the tragic tastelessness I’m used to buying at our petrol stations. That being said it is also hard to do anything but sing praise to the variety of spirits and beers. Welcome to hell if you’re an abstinent. Even the bus station poster is trying to convince you that Jameson is the reasonable decision. The array of beers in an average pub is only preceded by Ikea’s candles selection. And you really need to be lucky to find one that is not at least slightly tasty. An American tourist once wrote that pubs are not bars but community living room. I don’t think a better explanation is possible. So long as you’re not in the most crowded place in the center don’t bother keeping an eye on your phone and car keys. You might as well leave them on the counter and they’ll wait for you on that exact spot. Talking about community living rooms, pretty much the same goes for public transports. A train is as much a diner, and office and a bathroom. I’ve seen women applying make up while driving on the double decker. For the record, I would think twice before drinking coffee on that thrill ride. But they do look good those red whales of daily commute. As does majority of things around here.
As dodgy as it sounds it was in one of the pubs’ toilets that I partly fell in love with London. Strangely enough I still have a photo of that toilet cistern. Crimson red with large beveled fonts marking the brand. A nation that gives attention to such details must surely be interesting. And it’s not just the loo that screams ‘Victorian!’ and ‘Design!’. Pretty much everything in her majesty’s realm is shaped, designed and colored in a way that lets you know you’re making steps through a mighty empire. Well, a has been mighty empire if we’re honest but a strong one non the less. All the main architectures in London are huge and robust and good looking and very, very Victorian. Even the money gives a feeling of “don’t fuck with us” with the large bills and heavy, sturdy coins.
“British” is becoming kind of a trademark. Good luck finding a shop in the center of London that doesn’t sell at least one thing with a union jack stuck on it. If anyone is aware of “the British” hype it’s the British themselves.
One thing Britain is definitely all about is traditions. All the Queens’ processions are just a cherry on the top of an iceberg. Ever heard of Sunday roasts? After-work pint at the pub? Christmas jumper day? This one’s probably my favorite. Takes place on last Friday before Christmas and everyone is supposed to wear the kitschy Christmas jumpers. The more it upsets the eye the better. The only time I felt stupid for not wearing knitted reindeer and snowmen with protruding noses was when I was the only one dressed normally at work that Friday. Talk about democracy.
All this stereotype thing maybe sounds a bit negative when it really isn’t. The British are in general pretty easy going. Even when it comes to driving. I’ve driven through London town a lot during the rush hours and I must say that Italians are still securely in the leading position. There’s little chance you’ll get into a heated argument with the English and they seem to be quite a generous and warm nation. Except when it comes to football. Or building a huge empire. But let’s not get stuck in the details.
Since I spend most of my time in London one could argue that I am in no position to generalize the whole bloody island based on those few non-immigrants living there. And I would completely agree. However, taking in account the number of breweries, pubs and family-related traditions one couldn’t disagree about the fact that they are pretty outgoing, all around jolly and family cherishing human beings. A bit pale, but still much like the rest of Europe, sorry, the Continent.
If they would only learn to drive on the correct side of the road.