What I know about Brits
A few days ago, I was made aware of a post entitled What I know about Germans and after a brief Twitter conversation felt compelled to write my own 'expat view' list. So, here is a quick-fire list after almost 10 years in this country (and Bristol! My anniversary will be on bonfire night this year)
- Brits combine being self-deprecating with being self-assured in a unique way.
- They have a pretty good sense of humour.
- They have incredibly sweet, but also incredibly yummy puddings.
- Britain is the most openly class-orientated country I know. I am sure the percentage of people in high-profile politics or corporate jobs that have attended a public school is over 80% (90%, 95% ?) It depends of course how you define "high profile". In any case the percentage is very high.
- Talking of public schools, after a while you forget that this is a complete misnomer. Few things are less accessible to the general public than public schools.
- There are a lot of Scots in politics.
- People are uncharacteristically unfunny on April Fool's day.
- There is only one correct answer to the question "How are you?".
- People are endlessly engaged in either buying, selling or doing up a house. The latter is often lovingly referred to as their "project".
- Almost nobody lives in the place where they grew up. In Germany people often study (or used to when I was young!) in the place they grew up in, in Italy people live with their parents till they are 40, but in Britain once you're 18 you move furthest away from home as possible. I think this is a good thing, healthy for both parents and off-spring, and I wish I had done it.
- British people are not as uniformly fascinated by their Royals as the rest of Europe seems to be.
- Sometimes they tell you things in a slightly indirect way.
- You can find better public transport than in Britain.
- Twitter is made for Britain. I am sure those people in SF created Twitter with British people in mind. No other language, and no other national character lends itself so well to this compact exchange of original thoughts, puns and furious assault. London was the city with most Twitter users a year ago, and probably still is. Twitter comments are quoted in the News, which I can't quite yet see happening in Germany (correct me if I'm wrong).
- People move to places because of the schools their children will be able to attend. I wonder if there is any other country where that is the case. I think it is completely nuts, but as stated above, British people are used to moving a lot!
- They are a true multicultural society, and a lot is done to integrate foreigners. I adore the way that teachers and assistants work with foreign children at the school my children attend.
- British (in particular, Bristolian) web developers tend to be male, white, cycle to work and eat avocadoes.
- There are a lot of Scottish football managers.
- There are really nice crisps flavours.
- Brits seem extraordinally resilient to the cold. Pupils come to school with either minimal socks on their feet or no socks at all in all weather. At night you see girls going clubbing wearing no jacket at all, no sleeves, low cleavage and miniskirts, no tights in all weather.
- Which brings me to the bizzare tradition that is the hen night, a piss-up involving bunny ears, condoms and plastic penises (plus optionally male strippers). Often also involving a ride in a 10 meter long limousine. I have heard rumours that the German counterpart is going a bit more in this direction now, too, though I can't imagine it will be quite the same!
- British weddings are more formal than German ones and finish earlier. Hence the need for hen and stag nights I suppose.
- Nobody can do better documentaries and comedy series.
Nobody seems confused about what British means in spite of this: