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What British People Say Vs What They Mean

A compendium of clichés. Via Quick Pint After Work, And Other Everyday Lies.

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1. "Blitz spirit" – The collective quality of quiet heroism which enables us to withstand calamities such as a tube strike, hosepipe ban, or 5cm of snow.

2. "Dunkirk spirit" – Stoical and good-natured response to flooding, usually involving the stockpiling of sandbags.

3. "Bank holiday" – Three-day drinking binge.

4. "Public holiday" – Excuse for being pissed from lunchtime.

5. "Christmas day" – Excuse for being pissed by 10am.

6. "Christmas break" – Fourteen uninterrupted days of Baileys-soaked indolence.

7. "Boxing day sales" – Zombie apocalypse.

8. "The bit between Christmas and New Year" – Bizarre state of purgatory during which we rehearse for old age by shambling round the house asking each other what day it is.

9. "Whose round is it?" – I know exactly whose round it is.

10. "Excuse me, I think I was actually ahead of you in the queue" – You are loathsome and I am inwardly fantasising about your slow and agonising death.

11. "No, no, after you" – We are locked in a politeness vortex. This may never end.

12. "Tea or coffee?" – The choice you make will colour my opinion of you, possibly forever.

13. "Milk, sugar?" – Careful now: There is a right and wrong answer to this.

14. "Milk, no sugar please" – Is the correct answer.

15. "Two sugars, please" – I am a manual labourer.

16. "I don't drink tea" – I am not to be trusted.

17. "Fond of a drink" – Raging alcoholic.

18. "The odd tipple" – I throw gallons of booze down my neck at every available opportunity.

19. "Eurosceptic politician" – Appalling racist.

20. "Provocative newspaper columnist" – Git.

21. "Conservative MP" – Git who went to Eton.

22. "Doesn't suffer fools gladly" – Heartless bastard.

23. "A bit of a character" – Social pariah.

24. "Did you find the place OK?" – We will now have a painfully detailed five-minute conversation about the relative merits of different A roads.

25. "Ooh, nice" – You have just told me where you've been on holiday.

26. "Ooh, nice" – You have just told me where you live.

27. "Ooh, nice" – You have just told me what you had for lunch.

28. "Ooh, nice" – You have just told me your weekend plans.

29. "…" – You have just unburdened yourself emotionally to me.

30. "Well, we timed this well" – We have made a car journey and experienced only moderate traffic.

31. "What do you make of this weather we've been having?" – We have nothing in common, but I'd like to avoid an awkward silence if at all possible.


32. "Record-breaking temperatures" – Middling temperatures.

33. "Summertime" – Two-week period of collective insanity during which men think it's acceptable to walk down the high street with their shirts off.

34. "Would you listen to that rain" – There is nothing remarkable about this rain, but I'm going to mention it anyway.

35. "You're looking well" – You've obviously been going to the gym, and I secretly hate you for it.

36. "I think I've caught the sun a bit" – My skin is roughly the colour of an overheating nuclear reactor.

37. "Out of town shopping centre" – Circle of hell.

38. "High street" – Row of betting shops.

39. "Town centre nightclub" – Horrendous meat market.

40. "Urban redevelopment" – We've got a Zizzi now.

41. "Where do you live?" – How expensive is your house?

42. "What do you do?" – How much do you earn?

43. "New money" – Rich person I am jealous of.

44. "Old money" – Rich person I am deferential to.

45. "Fine" – I disagree with what you just said with every fibre of my being.

46. "Nonsense. Don't mention it" – You have wronged me, and I will replay this incident in my head until the day I die.

47. "Mustn't grumble" – Will definitely grumble.

48. "Let's agree to disagree" – I loathe you with an intensity that will burn within my soul for all eternity.

49. "With the greatest respect" – I think you're a total moron.

50. "Let's come back to that" – Please do not speak in this meeting again.

51. "Correct me if I'm wrong" – I am 100% certain I am not wrong.

52. "With all due respect" – I disagree with your point of view entirely.

53. "Sounds good" – I wish this didn't sound sarcastic.

54. "Sounds great" – Oh god, this sounds even more sarcastic, doesn't it?

55. "Yeah, go on then, why not?" – I will be having another drink, if not several.

56. "I'm fine" – I am moments away from a devastating mental collapse.

57. "I'll bear it in mind" – Let us never mention this again.

58. "I'm sure it's my fault" – It's your fault.

59. "Chuffed" – Experiencing heart-racing euphoria.

60. "Not too bad, actually" – I'm possibly the happiest I have ever been.

61. "A bit miffed" – I've been ripped apart by a tsunami of pain and sorrow.

62. "Down in the dumps" – Severe depressive episode.

63. "Under the weather" – Close to death.

64. "Gutted" – Suicidal.

65. "Peeved" – Consumed with rage.

66. "Can't complain" – But I'm going to anyway.

67. "Oh dear" – A life-altering catastrophe has just occurred.


68. "You must come round for dinner" – Under no circumstances should you consider this an actual invitation.

69. "Let's meet up for a drink soon" – This will never, ever, ever happen.

70. "Something's come up, I'm afraid" – I've decided I can't face an evening in your company after all.

71. "Dinner party" – Excuse for drinking lots of wine and shouting about how good Breaking Bad is.

72. "Would you like a tour of the house?" – Our house is worth a lot of money and we would like to show off about it.

73. "House party" – Overrated event during which acquaintances argue over what to play next on Spotify for four hours, then vomit on the sofa.

74. "I'm going to Glastonbury" – And I'm going to keep banging on about it until it makes you want to karate chop me in the larynx.

75. "I'm going to Reading and Leeds" – I used to be an emo and I can't let it go.

76. "I'm going to V Festival" – I am the star of a second-rate scripted reality show.

77. "I'm going to Latitude" – I'm a Guardian reader.

78. "I'm going to Bestival" – I am a 40-something former raver.

79. "I'm going to T in the Park" – It's 10 days away and I have started drinking already.

80. "Mate" – You are very much not my mate, and there is a strong chance I am about to punch you.

81. "Mate" – I didn't catch your name when we were introduced, and it's too late now to ask.

82. "Matey" – I like to think I'm a lovable salt-of-the-earth Cockney, despite having gone to Harrow.

83. "Guv" – I am a London cab driver, and will now tell you my views on immigration.

83. "Fella" – I think I'm Vinny Jones.

84. "Bruv" – I think I'm Danny Dyer.

85. "Dude" – I am trying very hard to sound American, and it's really awkward for everyone concerned.

86. "Sorry" – You have just trodden on my foot.

87. "Sorry" – You have just bumped into me and caused me to spill an entire tray of drinks.

88. "Sorry" – You have just fallen asleep on the tube and drooled on my shoulder.

89. "Sorry" – You have just smashed into the back of my car.

90. "You look nice" – You have never looked more beautiful.

91. "Alright you fat wanker, what are you drinking?" – You are my best friend and I love you.


Taken from the book Quick Pint After Work, And Other Everyday Lies.