just something that made me laughed today. Enjoy.
Monday September 6, 2010
Great British obsessions
BUT THEN AGAIN
By MARY SCHNEIDER
Tea, booze, the weather, tea ... more tea – these are a few of a Brit’s favourite things.
THERE are many things that British people can be obsessive about: football, fish and chips, scones and cream, tea, alcohol, DIY, queuing, the state of the national health service, World War II, bingo, quiz shows, the weather ... the list goes on.
If you are a foreigner on British soil keen to be accepted by your local neighbours, or a tourist trying to strike up a meaningful conversation in the breakfast queue, or an overseas student trying to impress a prospective date at your college, all you have to do is embrace a local obsession or two and you will be instantly accepted.
For example, upon meeting a British person for the first time, do talk about the weather as a means of breaking the ice. The British love to talk about clouds, and cold fronts, and nips in the air, and passing showers, and frosty mornings that are “cold enough to freeze the b*lls off a brass monkey” – a common colloquial expression.
Talking about the weather is also acceptable on a first date. Can you imagine not having to come up with witty insightful comments about things like British foreign policy, declining interest rates, and the calorific content of a deep-fried Mars bar? As you clutch nervously at your date’s hand across a candle-lit table, all you have to do is mumble a few simple words about isobaric pressure shifts, or the effects of coriolis in the northern hemisphere, or the necessary pre-conditions for the generation of hurricanes.
On second thought, perhaps talking about Mars bars might be easier.
If you really want to impress a certain, older demographic on a really hot day, all you have to do is mention the summer of 1976, during which woods and heath lands burned and rivers became nothing more than a trickle. The mere mention of that drought-stricken season will have natives sucking the still air through clenched teeth and looking skyward for signs of impending nimbostratus clouds.
Being able to identify the different types of clouds (stratus, cumulus, cumulonimbus, etc) can also be useful, as can learning a few other weather-related expressions, like “hot enough to melt the nose off a brass monkey”. A course in amateur meteorology might also come in handy.
Talking about the weather might be an activity that has little appeal to many non-Brits, but certain British obsessions need to be strictly observed by visitors to Britain, chief of which is queuing. British people love to queue in orderly lines for everything, and anyone not observing strict queuing etiquette will be told in no uncertain terms that it’s time to go home.
Since coming to Malaysia in 1982, I have learned to say “Please queue up!” in three Asian languages. Whenever I see someone trying to jump a queue, I just have to point out the error of their ways. This rather foolish and often futile activity sometimes lands me in trouble. However, I can no more jump a queue or stand by and witness others doing the same than I can smoke a joint in a church.
Besides, queuing need not be a hugely boring activity. You can always strike up a conversion with a fellow-queuer about the Malaysian weather.
But I digress.
Back in Britain, you would do well to remember that the favourite British beverage is tea. Although more and more people are giving up tea in favour of coffee, Britain is still a nation of people obsessed with the stuff. They drink tea first thing in the morning, while on the train to work, the moment they enter their work place, and at regular intervals thereafter. They drink it as soon as they get home too. Then they forget all about tea and start drinking alcohol.
Any British celebration wouldn’t be complete without alcohol. If your neighbour has just finished mowing his lawn, you have a drink to celebrate; if your spouse enrols in Alcoholics Anonymous, you have a drink to celebrate; and if you’ve managed to abstain from alcohol all evening, you have a drink to celebrate.
On any given Friday or Saturday night, you’ll find numerous British people lying flat on their backs in a drunken stupor outside a pub. Hardly able to speak, they’ll likely want to tell you about Manchester United’s latest victory (football – the king of all British obsessions).
If you were to prod them to get up, they’ll probably say something like, “Bloody awful weather, don’t you think?”
To which you can respond: “How about a nice cup of tea, then?”