It’s our behaviour, cuisine and heritage that often mystifies nations from around the world; seeing us as snobby cavaliers or colonial prospectors, we’re stuck in the rut of a past time that we no longer live. But that’s what makes us quintessentially British – it’s our rejection of the modern way that so many different countries find hilarious, delusional or at times exemplary. To help you identify with this further, gentlemen, we bring you the 15 things that we British do best:
IRONY & SARCASM
It’s something that separates us from the rest of the world; whether it’s twister word-play, self-deprecation, or deadpan awkwardness, we Brits do it best. It’s hard to find another culture that is so keen to tear itself apart for the amusement of others.
With influences of Danish, French and Latin (plus many more), the English language is put together like a dimly-lit rainbow; a language that is so versatile, intelligent and constantly evolving. With its global spread, there is nothing quite as sporadic and engaging as our language.
FISH & CHIPS
A day out at the seaside is a memorable past-time for any British childhood; your father trying to convince you that the sun was actually out, the water was warm and that it was a good idea to bring the kite. The spectacle of this family bonding day was always tucking into Fish & Chips. For their day-redeeming quality, and grand association with the British coast, we simply believe that nobody does them better.
Nobody says ‘sorry’ quite as often as we do. Sometimes to form as a greeting, an interjection or when we feel we’re in the way – we constantly cling to the adjective as a means of saving face. We don’t really know why we say it so much, but it’s something that is almost wholly unique to us British.
There’s nothing a middle-aged man is more proud of than his local real ale. Of course this opinion changes from region to region, rivalling the passion felt for the beer to the same as a Liverpudlian to the Liverpool crest, the Cornish to their regional pasty and the Scottish to Irn-Bru. It’s a taste of Britain that can’t be replicated anywhere around the world.
REFERRING TO SOMEONE AS MATE
Like ‘sorry’, it’s another word we can’t help but say. Perhaps taken from Weekday labourers as a noun to signal the initiation of a friendship, calling someone ‘mate’ has crept its way into our everyday conversation. Used so much in British life nowadays, it has the same social-politeness level as thanking someone with the neutral ‘ta’. We don’t know why we use it, but we do.
Standing, sporting a camper chair or even sometimes a disposable BBQ, we British are the best at queuing. Whether it’s for a long-haul flight, waiting for a table at ASK or trying to get a view at the weekend cricket match, we are one of the only nation’s in the world that are content with politely waiting.
SOPHISTICATION & MANNERS
Portrayed around the world as the elegant gentleman – the British are known for being the best in sophistication and mannerisms. Whether this is inherently true or not, it is a reputation that we are keen to cling to.
The base for many Soap operas and Guy Ritchie films, there is something wholly romantic about the dinginess of the British pub. It may not have the cigarette stained walls, or yeast-spangled carpets of the past, but the British pub culture has not lost its authentic charm.
Perhaps the world’s archaic view of the British gentry – seeing our nation as being stuck in a 19th century flurry of imperialism, snobbery and top-hats – is what places us as the ultimate in writing letters. Once a beautiful art for Petrarchan lovers, Duke’s and Royal invitations, the romantic and informative letter writing is a skill firmly linked to us Brits.
BEST MAN’S SPEECH
To us, the fundamental memories of a wedding are the kiss, the drunken relatives and the Best Man’s speech; it’s something we are proud of and competitive about. The Best Man’s speech is a defining moment for a man; being able to summarise a whole life of drunken debauchery, impertinent activities and camaraderie, whilst making people laugh is something that sets the social status for a British gent.
From the Cockney’s rhyming slang to the Scouser’s sayings, it’s something no other country understands – our slang is completely unique to Britain. We don’t know where it comes from, how to use it or when to use it – but it’s a prominent feature in our everyday conversation.
Britain wouldn’t be the same without our bucolic country sports. Whether it’s driven shooting, hooking a brown trout, or riding with your local hunt, there is something quintessentially British about it. For the traditional beauty in our home sports, we firmly believe that nobody can do it better.
It’s why thousands of tourists travel hundreds of miles to witness a West End show – we are simply seen as being the best of the best at theatre. From the famous playwright’s of the past to the neo-productions, our reputation is unrivalled.
Whether it’s an isolated house in Dartmoor, a country manor in Surrey or featuring in the picturesque setting of Castle Combe, the typical British country house holds a grand and nostalgic air. Often seen by the Americans as the ideal getaway – despite the dodgy phone reception – we place it on here for being the best for them.
This article featured in The Gentleman’s Journal [09.06.2015]