For hundreds of years, the Union Jack has unfurled herself over many a nation in the third world or other developing countries - even America started out being British. As a result, the world around us is filled with pockets of British people. The Internet has magnified that presence to a point that one never knows when they will suddenly find themselves physically or virtually surrounded by British subjects. What to do? Well, the first thing is to prepare yourself for that eventuality and learn How to Be British.
The Pillars of Britishness
“I suppose an essential aspect of being British is not liking others very much. We are set apart by our lack of French-ness, German-ness or Italian-ness. Still Britain is one of the few places left in the world which still has real beer”
The term "propriety" is defined as: the quality or state of being proper, appropriateness and conformity to what is socially acceptable in conduct or speech. Also, the fear of offending against conventional rules of behavior, especially between the sexes, as well as the perceived customs and manners of a polite society. The British have long been obsessed with propriety - maintaining its comforting facade at all costs. This leads to the almost inevitable bouts of ritualistic embarrassment when they fail to live up the lofty standards that they set for themselves or fail to live up to the expectations of mum and dad.
“We know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality”
A famous British invention involving water, sunlight, clouds, wind and occasionally snow. The purpose of the weather is to allow British people to interact verbally. Had weather not been invented British people would be unable to talk to each other for fear of being perceived as overly forward. If attempting to converse like a native Briton simply stroll up to your targeted conversee and state something mundane and obvious about the current weather. More advanced users may be able to stretch to commenting on past weather, however commenting on future weather must only be risked by seasoned veterans of conversation.
“Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative”
In order to be mistaken for a Britisher you must first master the art of drinking so much lager that you can't remember your own name. There is some regional variation, if you wish to be at home in the West Country, cider should be your drink of preference, and if you're in any city center at happy hour, vodka would be the best shout. This is important to remember, as most British pastimes involve watching the television and drinking beer until you can't piss straight.
“At Oxford we drank to ludicrous and revolting excess and threw up over some of the most beautiful buildings in Britain”
Soccer, or football, as you shall refer to it from now on, is a great British tradition dating back centuries, since the Roman Invasion back in the day. In order to be a true "football fan" it is important to first select a team from any of the top four divisions, preferably either Chelsea or Manchester Red Sox Ltd. if you expect your team to win every week. When out in public it is important to be aware of your surroundings and know how to cheer for the correct team when surrounded by their overzealous fans.
“There is no greater drama in sport than a soccer team trying to validate its national character in the World Cup”
To an American, Rugby looks a lot like football but one should never associate the two unless your ready to talk about how Rugby is a real man's sport while American football players are all sissies for wearing protective pads and helmets. "Football is a gentleman's game played by ruffians and rugby is a ruffian's game played by gentlemen" goes the old saying in the UK. Have you ever heard of a Rugby hooligan? No, because it's an inherent part of the game. Fanatical observers of this grotesque ballet are already satiated with visual blood-lust and have no need to initiate that tingly thrill on their own.
“Rugby is a good occasion for keeping thirty bullies far from the center of the city”
A famous British sport involving men, white shirts and dirty bowling, the object of the game is to knock down the pins behind the batter, doing so will get the batter "OUT" if the batter hits it, try to catch it, if you miss he will try to run for a point. Warning: if it hits the boundaries it counts as 4 runs and if it goes out of them it counts for 6. there are 12 people on each team (even though the twelfth guy is basically the other 11 guy's bitch), use them well.
“It (cricket) requires one to assume such indecent postures”
Choosing Your British Identity
You will need to study the various intricacies of the numerous sub-genres of Britishness in order to choose which United Kingdom culture you'd like to poorly imitate. Instead of a single, generic brand of British person to imitate and mock, they are actually divided into four major stereotypes which can be parroted into perpetuity.
It's easy to be confused about what it means to be English. I'm sure you're wondering if information about Englishness can be found on a Def Leppard album or perhaps with a viewing of an Austin Powers movie but that's just people wearing clothing emblazoned with the Union Jack. There's even a comic book character called Union Jack but again, it's just people running around wearing British flag apparel and should not be used as a resource. Other stereotypes include "tea lust", alluding to the English being so fixated on adhering to their Tea Time that they will automatically stop whatever they are doing, even if it threatens their lives, to stop and observe the traditional tea break.
“The English think soap is civilization”
Of all the British flavours, none seem to carry quite the portfolio of stereotypes as the Irish. With Leprechauns, Shillelagh and a proclivity for drinking and fighting, you'd think there would be enough material to fill a book with negative stereotypes - but the Irish spent the 1800's much like Africans in America as the symbols of laziness, sloth, greed and subhuman lineage. While the drinking and fighting are fairly accurate, the only other pre-requisites for being Irish include saying "Have ye any sense at all"?, "Are ye daft?" and ending every sentence with "Blast ye"!
“The Irishman is never at peace except when he is fighting”
“It requires a surgical operation to get a joke well into a Scotsman's understanding”
“Each section of the British Isles has its own way of laughing, except Wales, which doesn't”
Determine Your Class
This is probably the easiest part of your quest to role-play as a Britisher. The caste which you occupy in the British class system is easily determined by your net worth. While lineage also plays a factor, it's really only relevant for the upper class - who's nepotism and inbreeding has created a stronghold in British society. the assumption is that you are a foreigner with
A broad definition of crime in England is that it is any lower-class activity that is displeasing to the upper class.
Now that you've carefully studied Britishness and its effects, your ready to move onto your test! Think carefully before you answer these questions because your validity as a human being is in the stakes.
1) If a gentleman offers you a drink do you:
- A. Ask for a Beer
- B. Ask for Coffee
- C. Ask for Tea
- D. Ask for Tea with milk but no sugar
2) You are in a very posh restaurant, how much do you tip the waiters/waitresses?
- A. Only as much as he deserves, in other words nothing.
- B. It depends on how good the service is.
- C. You tip him 20% just cause you feel generous.
- D. You can't tip him, you have little money from the exchange rates.
3) You are invited to attend a ball, what do you wear?
- A. Your everyday clothes - Why should you care about Brits?
- B. The best penguin suit money can buy - after all it is YOUR ball.
- C. Turn up looking smart, but at the same time suave.
- D. Do not attend.
4) When you sing the national anthem, what do you sing?
- A. God Save The King/Queen
- B. Star Spangled Banner
- C. O' Canada!
- D. Hatikvah.
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Question 1: D = 4 points, C = 3 points, B = 2 points, A = 1 point
Question 2: B = 4 Points, C = 3 Points, D = 2 points, A = 1 point
Question 3: A = 2 points, B = 3 Points, D = 1 point, C = 3 points
Question 4: C = 2 points, B = 1 Point, A = 4 points, D = 3 points
How did you do?
16 Points - You are overly British.
10-15 points - You did about the same as an average Brit.
5-9 points - Where DO you live?
0-4 points - Either your a hopeless no-brained nimrod or you're not British.