Recent events have conspired to see The Future Mrs GeekErgoSum start to plan a life over here in Blighty, so for this weeks Saturday for Dummies I thought it would be a good idea to look at England for Dummies. This way I will be all ready to impart the essential advice for when she gets here in the summer.
Reading a guide to the country that has been your home for thirty years is a very weird experience, you half expect to be told stuff you already know and spend the other half questioning the accuracy of the information. This book was no different, despite the fact that it was slightly London-centric (we get it, London is big and so aaaaamazing so why not write a separate book) it did attempt to pick out some of the other great places you can visit in England (there is a Scotland for Dummies, but no Wales for Dummies).
This will be new to Brummies, Mancunians and Bristolians but asically your cities aren’t worth going to (as there is not a lot about them in this book) but Exeter, Cheltenham and Scarborough are. Living in Birmingham (although not a Brummie) I take great exception to this, I mean have you not seen the…errr….ummm…Bullring shopping centre or Spaghetti Junction? On second thoughts they may be right about this.
The cooking is unique, and so is the English Pub.
The pubs are not so unique, if you happen to be in one that offers 2 for 1 meals and has a bookcase full of random, and unread, books then you are in a Wetherspoons. If you stick to the carpet you are in a Working Mens Club. Otherwise you are in a traditional pub.
During the 1980s England began privatizing formerly state-run agencies, such as the railroad (with what some say are disastrous results).
This is typical of the rose-tinted glasses most people here wear. Saying how bad Virgin trains are now completely ignores the awfulness of British Rail. I speak as the son of a Labour man, nationalisation is a terrible idea in England due to the inexhaustible supply of jobsworths and mini-dictators we produce. This inevitably leads to the grinding halt to any industry they get there moustaches and clipboards in to.
English “home cooking” – dull, insular and uninspired – was the joke of Europe.
I believe that there is something in the English psyche that takes things on their merits, a spade is a spade and all that. Food is there to be eaten and stop you being hungry, it is protestant ethic to cooking. We do not trust the papist-stylings of Haute Cuisine, however slowly we are being conned into buying stupid foods like sun-dried tomatoes and pesto. This is part of the same secret French instigated Cuisine Conspiracy that tells us crap fizzy wine and fish eggs are somehow the pinnacle of good food.
Shandy: Equal parts bitter and lemonade, it’s for those who like a sweet beverage that only sort of tastes like beer.
This completely misses the point of shandy, it is the beverage that everyone has to introduce them to under-age drinking. It’s generally only made with bitter up North or in clubs (most likely a Mild XI shandy) or if you are from down south it will be lager-based.
If you’ve ever watched British television, you know how completely different it is from American TV. The characters actually look like human beings and inhabit recognizable worlds.
Eastenders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale are not representative of the East End of London, a Mancunian Street (which you don’t need to visit) or a rural community. Doctor Who is real, and is basically a documentary.
The Bank of England draws all the currency.
This is true, there is a big factory in Wales where thousands of people sit with pencils drawing pictures of the Queen and Edward Elgar. The Guttenburg press never really took off over here.
In a pub, never tip the bartender – offer to buy him or her a drink.
This is a good piece of advice for tipping in England. It’s not really something we like doing and causes no end of problems when we go to places where tipping is de rigour. It’s also why all our bartenders are drunk.
Manchester airport, in Yorkshire.
I sense a disturbance in the force, as if thousands of voices all screamed “What ya talking bout ah kid, you wanna fight?” This is like claiming Newark is in New York.
When a man is tired of London he is tired of life.
I am tired of life.
I don’t recommend staying in Plymouth.
This is grossly unfair, my little sister studied in Plymouth and we loved visiting there. Granted like most cities it has been robbed of a vibrant city centre by a large shopping centre but the Hoe is one of the most beautiful places in any city.
In Yorkshire, you can attune yourself to the broad, Scotslike accents of the North.
Oh England for Dummies, you really didn’t go anywhere outside of the M25. Again is the equivalent of describing a Brooklynites broad, Bostonlike brogue.