5 things that make Britain awesome

In which I turn up the volume to Rule Britannia and make a cup of tea.

I’ve  had a number of discussions recently about Britain and what Britishness is. The current issue is what makes a Brit a Brit, and whether or not it is compatible with being English or European. Mrs G (an American) is also having to teach British Values (democracy, freedom of speech, respect for the rule of law) that are not unique to this island.

Other friends have commented on certain aspects of British life, is it that all our food is bland and boiled (both of which I refute, it’s hearty and fried)? What about the way we look at class, or is it the fact that as a nation we are able to laugh at ourselves (a trait that only seems to be shared by Canadians, Australians or New Zealanders – perhaps having the Queen as Head of State gives oneself a good dose of self-deprecation).

What better way to look at it than with a list of things that seem to be Britannic specialties. So grab your warm beer and Union Jack bowler for, in no particular jingoistic order, my list of what I consider to be our most famous institutions:

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Summer is coming

In which a slight increase in temperature is cause for mass hysteria.

It’s getting fairly mild in here which means that the British summer has started to arrive. For anybody from these isles complaining about the poor weather we have had this year it is invariably met with the comment “ooh, it’s too hot”.

Important cultural fact about the British, we are basically Goldilocks with the exception we never find anything that is just right. During the long winter my house has been an ice box, requiring the central heating to be on full blast, but the first time that the sun comes out it has converted from a freezer into an oven.

It taunts us like a Frenchman does an English knigit, when I get home it feels nicely cool and refreshing. As soon as that door closes then it whacks itself straight up to gas mark 10 and proceeds to slow roast the household.

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The English summer

In which rain and shine co-exist on any given day.

Queues and the weather, this is the enduring myth that this is all the English talk about. Of course this is utter nonsense, we very rarely talk about queues. We just stand in line silently seething when we see anyone unable to follow queuing etiquette and once in a while grumble that the other line is moving ever so slightly faster.

When it comes to weather it is a different story. We are obsessed. Is it going to rain, it looks like rain, they said it was going to rain. Summer is prefaced with weeks complaining its too cold and as soon as the mercury starts to rise it is met with a chorus of its to hot.

This week summer has finally arrived on these shores which means men walk around with no shirts on and we all try to find a beer garden to decamp to. The most important part is that we all must grouch about it being too warm to do anything.

Being confronted by this nationwide vitriol to the increased heat Mrs G made a fatal error, as a foreigner she mentioned that this isn’t hot you should try New York in the summertime.

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A Great British intervention

In which the first step to admitting you have a problem is going LALALA.

My name is GeekErgoSum and I have an addiction, I’m not sure whether it is to bacon, computer games, the internet, Vimto or the myriad of other things I like too much but I feel in today’s society I must be addicted to something. Perhaps I am addicted to addictions and need an intervention.

Being British being outspoken about such things is not de rigeur, it’s the stiff upper lip and all that, so we carry on regardless until we make the decision to tackle our problems. If we defeat our demons the appropriate celebration is a well-deserved cup of tea.

We are not used to talking about our problems, least of all approaching others to offer our help. Can you imagine such a thing? Telling another person they are doing something wrong, which is why I find interventions so funny.

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Dealing with the British weather

In which Jon Snow knows nothing.

It’s hard work in the morning, it’s dark and cold outside but inside it’s dark and warm. This does not make it easy to get up and out from under the duvet, so it becomes harder and tougher to wake up in the morning. It’s not just me that is affected either.

The Feliciraptor is also struggling with the lack of sunlight in the morning. I will go in to wake her up and even though she is two she acts like a teenager and just rolls over. Rolls over in that “go away I am refusing to get up” way, and accompanies it with cries of “back to bed” when I pick her out of the cot.

Winters in the UK are not fun and I’m still never prepared for them even though I know it’s been coming.
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Transatlantic Dictionary

In which I translate from English to English.

Today is 08/11/2015 for me but for for Mrs G it’s 11/08/2015. I understand that there are many differences between the UK and US. We drive on the wrong sides, and have differing measurement systems. There is a logic and history to these, but date formats…nope.

In the UK we are going dd/mm/yyyy and Year>Month>Day, so you can also go yyyy/mm/dd. Both of these ways make sense, what doesn’t make sense is mm/dd/yyyy. Time works on both sides of the Atlantic correctly and saying it is now 45:22 would just look crazy. Sorting out the mess of dates is beyond my capability, so instead I can offer the following help for those stuck with Transatlantic lingual issues.

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The British rain

In which I get comfy to listen to the rain outside.

It is that time of the year when the greyness of the British climate really hits the New Yorker in my life hard. For the past few days we have been surrounded in a thick fog that seems to clear to allow the drizzle in.

Light drizzle is the Schrodinger’s cat of weather, you both need and don’t need an umbrella and as soon as you make your choice you’ll decide it was the wrong one. If it is going to rain I would prefer it to pour. I want a torrent of water cascading from the skies, it should be drumming on the windows, and most importantly I should be inside.

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Explaining the class system

In which I look down on him but up to him.

I’m proud of the history of this nation, for such a small island on the corner of the continent we’ve punched above our weight consistently since the Armada sank beneath the waves. We looked forward and developed the modern age with the industrial revolution, then all of a sudden we stopped. Once we had peaked the powers that be panicked and became concerned that the ‘ordinary’ folk would upset the upper classes. For the past century class warfare has been at a peak, and it’s time we stopped worrying about who we were born to and more about what we were born to do.

Mrs G is fascinated by the British attitude to class, coming from the more meritocratic US she is amazed that we have an upper chamber of white elderly men who are there because their forefathers either had lands or the favour of a monarch. Nobody has chosen the Lords other than generations of royalty and politicians who are repaying large donations or playing for political points. These are the toffs, they speak with their plummy accents and very rarely will have been someone who could be classed as “working class”.
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