Monday, October 30, 2006

Best of British?

Friend Dan has recently moved to the UK and is finding the weather to be surprisingly miserable. That should go a long way in explaining why the British are such a nation of Puddleglums. It's hard to maintain a sunny disposition when good weather equals a couple of days in August. Still, it's not all misery. Here's my list of things that are good about the UK (it's full of generalisations but hey!)

1. Sense of humour. From Noel Coward to the Krankies. We're a nation who likes to laugh.
2. Music. Like comedy, something for everyone.
3. Cool. I'm talking the now mythical Kings Road/Carnaby Street/Austin Powers cool.
4. Minding our own business. Go into any restaurant and you can't hear other people's conversation (except in certain bits of London which continually let the side down). You can be sure that you can be left alone if you want to.
5. Architecture and history. We have a lot of nice old buildings (that tend to be a bit cold and damp) and some absolutely monstrous post-war concrete horrors. Where-ever you are, there's always something to see.
6. British accents. There are so many of them, surprisingly so for such a tiny island. I never get tired of hearing them and asking people about theirs.
7. Seaside. Being an island, we have a lot of coast. And the seaside is something we still do very well. You're always within a few miles of a candy floss machine or a pier.
8. Eccentrics. Everyone has a right (even a requirement) to be weird.
9. Cosiness. A nice cup of tea, a bit of fattening cake, a warm fireplace. We do cosy very well.
10. The BBC. Still the best in the world.

And also, the 10 worst things...

1. Hypocrisy. See 2 and 4.
2. Tabloid newspapers. Awful. Crass. Dumbed down.
3. The Class system. Increasingly a "caste" system. Everyone in Britain is a snob or inverted snob to some extent.
4. Our attitude towards sex (see 1 and 2). Pretty dire - high teenage pregnancy rates, a growing rate of sexual infections. A lot of us still have a Carry-on films attitude towards sex - all sniggers and getting it wrong.
5. Alcohol abuse. Everyone's on the binge. The recycling boxes of posh Clifton rattle with wine bottles every morning, while there's sick on the pavement outside Yate's Wine Lodge down the hill in the less nice part of town. We have more words for being drunk than Eskimos have for snow. When did it happen? When did it all go wrong?
6. Celebrity culture. Be a footballer (or better still a footballer's wife). Go on the X Factor. Don't study for your A levels. Buy a lottery ticket instead. We love and hate our celebs. We celebrate failure and despise anyone who's successful.
7. Motorway services.
8. Everything is expensive. Want to buy a house? Forget it. A car? Take out a 25 year loan.
9. Miseries. Maybe it IS the bad weather, but you don't see many people smiling when you're out. The main difference between American and British gay men (apart from the pectorals being bigger) is that the Americans smile at you and say "hi" when they want to cruise you in the streets. The British ones just give you this weird furtive, almost angry stare. And then look away. It surprises me that anyone ever gets sex.
10. Moaners. We love to complain. :) We're a very very petty unforgiving nation at times.

Did I miss anything?


Sparky said...

I've actually been working on a pros-and-cons post of my own about the UK. Of course, you've already covered most of it, so I'll need to rethink.

Lubin said...

Sorry! Still, I'm sure yours will have a different perspective!

DazPaz said...

Lubin - Do you think that our attitudes towards class, sex and misery are also what keeps sense humour at number one on your pro list? Did you see The Royle Family last night??

KAZ said...

Excellent point about the British accents. I drive a few miles down the road to Liverpool and I haven't a clue what they're on about.
And yes I know we moan, but our moaning can be very witty - and I don't like people to smile when they don't mean it.
Great lists.

fin de fichier said...

Increasingly a caste system? I thought it was sort of going away, ever so slowly. One thing I would suspect about the British Class system is that there isn't really a Fussell "Category X" as in the US. Can you opt-out in the UK? The people are reject honors and peerages seem to be trying too hard to do so.

matty said...

I wanna move there!!!!

I do have distant relatives in London. Tho, I think they are all quite poor. Still, I could work an angle.

...sammy and rosie get laid.

Lost Boy said...

What about the British 'stiff upper lip'? It can be both a virtue and an albatross. On one side, we have a knack for 'just getting on with it' and on the other, we can appear cold.

jetpack said...

everything over here has to be tainted with an element of crapness, otherwise it's just not british! Something being completely efficient, clean and affordable would never be allowed