Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Odd British Quirks

I haven't had to put up with any Halloween commercialism or nasty political campaign ads all over the place. It has been a lovely fall season over here. I have adjusted just fine to British culture, and I never had what might be called "culture shock." Although I have begun to notice the cultural oddities and various Anglia Eccentricia.

1. Given the very small sidewalks, I am amazed that British folks don't seem to understand the concept of walking single file. You have to squeeze through because they refuse to do so, and then they get in a bit "cross" even though you are the only one walking north and there are two walking south.

2. I understand more what Tiny Tim was about in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I have been amazed at the number of people with serious skeletal problems over here that force them to walk with limps and canes. It is almost reminiscent of pictures of the pre-1950s polio epidemic.
2a. Slightly related, I completely now understand Monty Python's skit "the Ministry of Silly Walks." I've seen some incredilbly exaggerated gaits over here of people who don't seem to have any visible sign of skeletal problems, but they still walk in ridiculously funny ways .

3. Everything is ""brilliant." The food, the movie, the joke, it is all brilliant.

4. To their credit, they do understand that not all types of beer are meant to be drunk ice cold. Trying to explain this concept to Americans is like trying to explain to Australians that you don't put ketchup on everything.

5. A barbecue over here is, in fact, hot dogs and hamburgers cooked on a grill.
5a. Said hamburgers over here cost 6 pounds (almost 12 dollars) and they are largely tasteless.

6. I never want to eat another potato. They are served at every meal in one form or another, no exception.

7. There are a lot of basement "Surgery" places. I assume that's some sort of doctor's office lingo, as I would not particularly want surgery done in a basement of a flat in some back alley.

8. I thought Europeans were all about gourmet coffee, but it is nearly impossible over here to find any real brewed coffee. Even the coffee houses mostly only serve the fake stuff. Instant coffee: learn to love it.

9. After coming from an Indian reservation this summer where it is a huge insult not to shake someone's hand, I have found almost the reverse over here. You offer to shake someone's hand and they will do so, usually with a bemused look of "oh, how quaint!"

10. Iced tea really grosses them's so much fun.


Andy Ward said...

Alright -- I admit it -- I'm going to come out ....




.... an anglophile. [Oh, the shame!]

It seems your corner of the internet has touched a space I had long since hidden and I find myself having to post for the third time in this visit.

I want to suggest an '8.a.' to your list, at least from my experience there.

8.a. "When asking if you would like milk in your coffee, they always have to say, 'And, yes, we say milk where you Americans say cream when you really mean milk.'"


Kyle said...

feel your pain.