50 Facts About the UK that you Need to Know
I love the United States, and with today being Thanksgiving I want to say a big Thank You to all the wonderful American people I have met on my travels. You are all really lovely. BUT… You guys really don’t get us Brits at all. AT ALL. I know that for a fact because I have spent many a year listening to you traveling around London on the tube and sitting in British pubs really really not getting us… at all. You think you do, because you’ve watched the movie Notting Hill so you ‘know’ that we are all bumbling poshies who live in quaint colourful streets and eat tiny triangle sandwiches with indigestion-inducing transparent slices of cucumber inside of them. Except we don’t. So here is a helpful list of what to expect when you visit Old Blighty.
1. We all sound different. The further south we are the less we can fathom out exactly how far north someone is from. And you won’t have a clue what ANY of us are saying, so just nod and smile.
2. Black Cab drivers in London won’t cross the River Thames. Well they will, but they’ll come up with excuses.
3. No one in England sounds like Hugh Grant. I don’t even think HE sounds like Hugh Grant.
4. If you see a red telephone box, don’t use it. It’s just for the tourists to take photos of…and for urinating in when you’re drunk.
5. If you aren’t sure if someone is being sarcastic, presume that they are.
6. If they say ‘Have a Nice Day’ then they are definitely taking the piss out of you.
7. Chips come with everything (what you call French Fries) – do not mistake them with crisps (from a bag)
8. Our chips are fat and juicy, fried in lard and covered in salt and vinegar. Or curry sauce. They are sometimes also referred to as ‘dinner’ or ‘hand warmers’ in the winter.
9. You know how Dick Van Dyke speaks in Mary Poppins? What the actually fuck is that? No one, NO ONE, speaks like that.
10. Scottish people don’t wear kilts or play the bagpipes in real life, until they see an American approaching and then there are sporrans on every corner!
11. Never call the whole of the UK ‘England’, the Scots hate us enough as it is.
12. Scotland, Wales, England and (only) the north of Ireland is part of the UK. But everyone wants to be independent, even Cornwall.
13. London is the capital of England, but classes itself as a separate country. Ask a Londoner where they are from and they will never say ‘the UK’ or ‘England’. They will say London. Proudly…and a little bit smugly.
14. While visiting our wonderful capital, if a man offers to show you his ‘crown jewels’ it is not, I repeat NOT, an invitation for a guided tour of the Tower of London.
15. We call buses, ‘buses’. Not a Red Bus or Double Decker Bus, just a bus. The only Double Deckers we refer to are chocolate bars. Try them.
16. Don’t make eye contact when sitting on the London Underground (the tube) ever. Not ever. If you talk to someone you will make them feel ever so uncomfortable. Only mad people and lost tourists talk on the tube.
17. The rest of the UK is nothing like London, everywhere else people will LOVE to talk to you.
18. If the sun is out, wear a t-shirt. Even if the local pond is frozen over and you have gloves on, the sun is out so wear a t-shirt!
19. No one thinks you are strange if you go for a swim in the British sea, regardless of the time of year. In fact it’s a sign of bravery. But never swim in the River Thames, only dead people go in that water.
20. The UK has a bad reputation for its cuisine. That’s bollocks. We have some of the best dishes and produce in the world. That rumour was started by the French, because apparently snails are more appetising than jellied eels.
21. Talking of which… Yes, you can buy eels in gelatin and pots of cockles on the side of the road in the East End of London. About five people in the entire capital will eat them, and a few tourists if they are brave enough.
22. If you ask for ‘liquor’ on your pie in the East End of London it will not be alcohol. Sorry about that. It is in fact slimy green shit.
23. The South of the UK has the nicest beaches, the North has the nicest people.
24. The UK is sometimes called Britain, United Kingdom and Great Britain. We never know what letter to look under when we fill out an online form.
25. The Welsh are very friendly and associated with sheep, daffodils and leeks. They also have nice scenery and a good rugby team. I can’t think of anything else.
26. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or the 4th of July – but we DO have Guy Fawkes Night on the 5th of November when we celebrate the fact that some guy didn’t burn down the Houses of Parliament centuries ago. So we set off fireworks and burn effigies of men on bonfires. Because that is totally normal.
27. Our houses are older than your entire town, and we have trees in our garden older than your country. Sorry.
28. It annoys us that we gave you the best language in the world and you went and changed all the good words – what was wrong with lift, tap, mum and the spelling of neighbour? Why did you delete all the ‘Us’? Why did you replace the perfectly good ‘S’s’ with ‘Z’s’?
29. We find the American accent a bit grating BUT we really love your Southern accent because we like to hear you say ‘Cherry Pie’.
30. And we know that if we really ham up OUR British accent and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot in your bars, we get free drinks. And get laid. A lot.
31. If a British person can ask a question in three words, they will use 53.
Non Brit: Pass the butter
British: Sorry to bother you, but would you be ever so kind as to please pass that lovely pot of butter, please? If it isn’t any trouble. Don’t worry if you can’t, I can get up and walk around the table and get it myself if it’s easier. Thank you. Sorry. Thanks. Cheers.
32. No we don’t know why Stonehenge was built. Honest. It’s not a national secret. And we don’t know what a Henge is either. Really, stop asking.
33. Edinburgh: Pronounced EDINBRR not EDINBORO or EDINBERG.
Leicester: Pronounced LESTER, not LYCHESTER
Worcestershire: Pronounced WUSTERSHEER not the crazy fucked up alternatives you keep coming up with
34. Stand on the right of the escalators, walk up the left. Don’t get it wrong. Those that did never lived to tell the tale
35. Our pavements are narrow, our roads narrower. They were built before the wheel was invented. Sorry.
36. We say ‘sorry’ a lot. If you bump into a British person, they will apologise. Even if it’s your fault.
37. Our real beer is called Ale. And it’s strong. But not as strong as our cider, which is meant to be cloudy.
38. We have strange names for meal times and depending where in the UK you live, they are eaten at different times. Breakfast, brunch, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, tea and supper. But only posh people say ‘supper’.
39. North Londoners and South Londoners stay away from each other. It’s that river thing again.
40. The weather is a big deal. If you don’t know what to say to someone, just mention the weather. And always carry a cardigan, sunglasses and an umbrella, just in case.
41. Never ask for ‘hot tea’. You won’t get it any other way.
42. And if you don’t drink tea or coffee, just pretend that you do or people won’t understand (or know what else to offer you).
43. You won’t get in trouble for ‘jaywalking’. In fact, in the big cities, it’s sometimes the only way to get anywhere.
44. Our food portions aren’t as big as yours, but they are huge compared to the rest of Europe.
45. Camping in the UK is less of a holiday treat and more of an endurance test. A week under tarpaulin is seen as nothing short of heroic.
46. But we are very modest. We may have just returned from climbing Mount Everest where we raised a million quid for starving children in Africa…but we will tell you it was just a little walk in the countryside with the kids.
47. We don’t like huge public shows of affection or grand gestures. A pat on the back will do.
48. And if we dislike you it will only be apparent by our pursed lips and short sentences.
49. Most people don’t get that excited about the Royal Family, but we all love the Queen. How can you not?
50. We are a proud nation. We just don’t fly our flag or talk about it a lot.
For a small island we may be a little, errr, unique – but we are also multi-culturally diverse, tolerant, adventurous, accepting, respectful, welcoming and extremely polite. So don’t be scared to come on over and pay us a visit. Just don’t speak to anyone on public transport.
So, do you agree? Did I leave anything out?
If so do comment below and let me know (unless you are British, in which case you will avoid me completely, mumble something about being terribly sorry and write a letter of complaint to the Daily Telegraph about this article instead).