Welcome to my travel blog! Today I decided to post something a little bit different, and it’s whilst on my travels that I have noticed there are many stereotypes we associate with countries that often are not even true. It would be unreasonable to assume that all Americans love baseball, every French person goes round with a beret and a bicycle and that Japanese only eat Sushi. With this in mind, I decided to do some research and find out where all these ideas have really come from and how many of them are really truly, true! I have compiled my findings in a blog post below and guess what, they are actually very interesting!
So first up, Britain – seeing as this is my native country, I felt it only fair to begin with the best! Britain has many different habits and stereotypes that have been noted over time but here are just a few that really stand out:
1. British Love Queuing
This is absolutely true! If there is one thing that we know how to do, it’s to form an orderly and polite queue. One theory for the origin of this ‘civilized behaviour’ stems from the world wars and the rationing of everyday goods because queuing effectively meant that everyone could get a share of the limited supplies. This formed notions of decency and now we just queue for anything! We will even join a long queue in the hopes that there’s something good at the front (but I can bet you there isn’t). As George Mikes says: “In shops, the English stand in queues. In government offices, they sit in queues. In churches, they kneel in queues. At sales time, they lie in queues all night in Oxford Street.” So to any outsider wanting to visit Britain and stay in its good books, here is a word of warning to you: NEVER JUMP A QUEUE. If you do, not only will you get given funny looks (a Brit will never tell you outright what he thinks of you), but you will also immediately give away the fact that you are a tourist and definitely not a native. Natives know that the first principle of Britishness is to wait patiently in a queue and never complain. That isn’t actually the first principle of Britishness but it certainly sounds good anyway!
2. Brits love talking about the weather
Next up, the weather. It’s a common and familiar topic with all ages and with us British descendants it also seems to be a topic that provokes much excitement and great passion judging by the regularity it appears with. After all, when conversation lulls, or when you are standing next to someone in an awkward silence; the topic of conversation that ensues is generally a passing comment like ‘Oh what beautiful weather’ or ‘why does it have to rain again!’ Come on, everyone knows what English weather is like, it changes its mind more than Trump which could be why we revert to a safe topic of discussing the weather whenever we feel the need to small talk. It’s a case of experiencing all four seasons within the space of four hours. You step outside your door in the morning to meet temperatures of 5?c and the kind of drizzle that gets you at the back of your neck; and so you have a long woollen coat and an umbrella as that seems the suitable attire for the weather. You return home in temperatures of the late teens early twenties and wonder why on earth you stepped outside that morning in your thermal underwear. As a result of this strange turn in weather that Britain seems to be only too capable in producing, us people are used to carrying around a spare change of outfit in case the weather decides to turn.
3. We are very polite
If you haven’t heard someone near you say sorry in the last 5 minutes, you are definitely not in England. We apologise profusely for all manner of things: being late, early, sneezing and even about the weather. Someone only needs to drive a shopping trolley over your feet in a supermarket and you immediately start feeling bad that they squashed your toes and it must have been your fault because you were obviously in the way. Or someone drops their debit card in a shopping centre and you run after them explaining how you are ‘terribly sorry, but you just dropped this on the floor.’ Why are you sorry that someone else dropped their card on the floor?? You didn’t make them drop it, you had nothing to do with the fact that they must have had a hole in their pocket so therefor, why on earth did you need to just apologise to that person for picking it up and returning it to them? Probably because you are a born Englishman and therefor you subconsciously use the word ‘sorry’ like you use punctuation to complete a sentence. Even when the act is a heroic one, somehow us Brits manage to spoil it with a ‘sorry’.
4. We have a unique sense of humour
This is something very unique to us and if you aren’t from these parts, then yes, you may have a hard time trying to understand just exactly where our humour gets funny. Heavy on self-depreciation, we love to laugh at our own expense. I suppose it makes us appear more humble and approachable and means that when life knocks you over (literally) you get back up and make a joke out of it, and most likely share it with others for them to also have a laugh about it. The other part of our humour involves a large dose of sarcasm. Sarcasm and irony seems to be ingrained in our DNA. When someone makes a comment to their neighbour that ‘they love it when their train is delayed’ don’t worry, they haven’t completely lost it, it’s just simply their way of coping with life. And I can almost certainly assure you that they don’t really love it when their train is delayed, they are being funny. So you are supposed to laugh. If you are not sure whether someone is being sarcastic or not, use the tone of their voice, their non-verbal expressions and the inane grin* spread across their face as a guide that it most likely is a sarcastic comment. So to any non-British people reading this, please do not look quite so confused at our way of life humour, once you understand it, it really isn’t that disconcerting; and if nothing else it gives us something to brighten up our days. If you still don’t understand it then the best thing would be to pretend you do and laugh heartily, it will make the other person feel better.
So now you can see why I got so engrossed in my findings about British stereotypes, they are uncannily true! Stereotyping is so often portrayed as something negative yet here is a perfect example of how stereotypes are what makes our country unique and more than anything else is what makes Britain so appealing to others. Whether you were a Brit reading this for some light entertainment or a foreigner wondering if Britain is the place for you to visit, I hope you found this blog post informative and interesting – as its purpose was to be so. (Its main purpose being to give me something to do whilst the British weather decides to make up its mind, the other morning.)
*Us Brits just can’t hide our delight when we crack a sarcastic comment and the most appropriate moment.