Excuse me, sorry, not wishing to offend anyone, but with all due respect could I give you twelve easy tips on how to upset us, or maybe avoid it? I won’t keep you long. Thanks ever so much.
1. Queue jump
England is apparently one of the most polite places to be (although most English people are in fact complaining that manners are going down the drain). ‘Excuse me’, ‘I’m sorry’, are every day parts of our vocabulary. What most people don’t realise is that half the time we’re being sarcastic. ‘Excuse me, am I in your way?!’ Doesn’t sound that polite now. Seriously though, queue jumping will get you lynched. It goes against every piece of etiquette we’ve ever been taught. Mini roundabouts are a nightmare for the ‘pardon me’ culture.
2. Disrespect the unspoken rules of public transport.
If you want to induce shock and outrage, ‘accidently’ ring the bell for the wrong stop and DON’T get off. Instead carry on your journey to your intended stop, don’t explain this to the driver and feel everyone stare at you for making the bus stop unnecessarily. I should explain this idiosyncrasy. It comes from not wanting to draw attention to your self or put anyone out. We also like everything to run smoothly and are fantastically impatient- especially when it comes to our unreliable public transport. Ringing the bell just slows the whole journey down for everyone. If you’re in London, stand on the left hand side of the escalator in any public transport station, at rush hour. This is a guaranteed way of pissing off a Londoner and if you’re lucky you may get pushed down the stairs.
3. Sit on the fence regarding marmite
You either love it or hate it. Like Margaret Thatcher. It is a dividing topic and being unable to form an opinion on it will mean we will never trust another thing you have to say.
4. Talk politics
Despite how disenchanted the vast majority of us are with the government, we still have strong views on our politicians. For the most part emotions you can expect are exasperation, disappointment and fury. Talk to a liberal about David Cameron, a conservative to Tony Blaire or a working class ex-miner about Margaret Thatcher and not only will you be stuck there for days wishing you hadn’t asked a question, but you won’t be released until you agree with whatever passionate diatribe is emitting from this person’s mouth.
5. Turn your nose up at our nationally treasured, odd-sounding, food
Black pudding, pickle, pasties, mushy peas, toad-in-the-hole. The list goes on and none of them sound too appetising, but they really are wonderful, stodgy, comforting little treats meant for cold days and quick eating at work (apparently stopping for lunch is against our culture). Their odd names come from our odd culinary history: pickle was eaten as part of a Ploughman’s lunch back when famers still used horses to, duh, plough a field. It’s actually ham, cheese, pickle, pickled onions and bread (my mouth just watered). Pasties were invented by Cornish miners, and were a nifty use of pastry to get your meat and two veg. we also call dessert, pudding. Pudding can also be a form of meat pie. Confused? Our food may sound weird but you never know until you try it. Having said that anyone can be forgiven for not wanting to eat jellied eels.
6. Call it soccer instead of football.
This is for any visitor who may call football ‘soccer’. It’s called football because you play it with your feet.
7. And don’t even get us started on ‘Aluminum’.
Obviously we British like our odd spellings, such as adding a ‘u’ to the word colour, or expecting non-native speakers to understand that the ‘s’ in business is a hard sound. I’m not saying we’re right and everyone else is wrong, this is just a heads up note. The band Biffy Clyro even wrote the song ‘Born on the Horse’ with the lyrics:
‘I pronounce it Aluminium
’cause there’s an I next to the U and M…’
‘Aluminum’ (MS Word is showing that to be an incorrect spelling) is in fact on the periodic table. However according to grammarist.com,
“Aluminium has the edge in scientific writing even in North America. This is primarily because several influential scientific organizations and publications prefer the spelling.”
So if a website devoted to grammar has supporting statements (that I’ve pilfered for my own ends) then that’s the final say. ‘Aluminium’ sounds better. Fact.
8. Be smug about your nation’s rich consumption of sun-rays.
Then laugh at the fact that everyone rushes outside on the one sunny day per month. We are a rainy country, it’s cold here, so when the sun decides to cascade its’ wonderful rays upon us, we want to soak it up. That’s fair isn’t it? If you come from some marvellously weathered country, to which birds migrate, surf ascends, the sun always shines on and somehow you still have healthy tress and land; complain very loudly at how much it rains here. If you’ve ever spoken to an English person, you’ll have noticed we’re all glaringly aware and never stop talking about it ourselves.
9. Flaunt your success.
This one’s a bit of a tangled web, to do with the recession, our out-dated class system and bank scandal. However we still love the under dog. Even if said dog is clearly not as good, deserving or talented, we always want the person struggling to succeed. To piss us off, dress up as a city banker, drive like a maniac in a Beemer and flash your Rolex at any opportunity. Talk about how Daddy got you that job and dont forget to highlight the tan from that expensive holiday too. In return for your efforts we will all collectively think ‘wanker’, and being a nation of tutters you might even get some filthy looks. Obviously I’m generalising, not all rich people dodge taxes or are selfish… I mean, even if you did work hard to succeed, just be humble, it’s much nicer any way.
10. Confuse the Welsh/Scots/Irish with the English.
That is if you want to be hung drawn and quartered by anyone but the English. England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Eire and Scotland are separate countries helping to make up the United Kingdom. The Irish, Scots and Welsh were oppressed and humiliated by the English for centuries and apart from Eire, they still have limited political freedom with most of their major laws and politics decided for them by the UK government. As a result most Welsh, Irish and Scottish people are fiercely patriotic. You won’t piss off an English person but you will make an enemy for life out of the Welsh/Scot or Irish person you just insulted.
11. Remind us we’re a small island.
We have small country syndrome. You can usually tell this when you talk to someone about travel distances. To us three hours in a car is a long day and there are hundreds of possible routes, the ensuing discussion for which is tiring enough. The thought of needing to fly domestically is like neuro-science to us. This won’t piss us off so much as baffle us because we take for granted how long it takes to travel large countries. And we can’t help that, our spacial awareness has been affected by how cramped over each other we are. Flying for five hours by plane to the other side of your own country? The following silence after that revelation would be the sound of an English man’s brain imploding.
12. Assume we all still wear top hats and take afternoon tea on a daily basis.
You can also assume we have terrible teeth. Please, ignore the advances in dentistry that we are part of, and forget that we’ve had any input to popular culture with bands like the Beatles, the development of dubstep and drum and bass or our fashion designers, such as Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. You can also forget that we like other drinks such as coffee, beer and oh ANYTHING! I say good sir, if one is assuming that we are still inhabiting the Victorian era, one will challenge one to a glove slapping post-haste.