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29 Things Non-Brits Just Don't Get About Britain

We love you, but some of the things you do are just weird.

1. The popularity of the long-running, incredibly tedious Radio 4 drama The Archers. Eavesdropping on your neighbours is more exciting. Phoning your great-aunt is more exciting. Even silence is more exciting.

2. Being snobby about the different words for "toilet". Whether you call it the "loo" or the "lav", it's where you pee and poo. End of.


3. Being snobby about the different words for furniture. So that thing that you sit on when you watch TV – is that the sofa or the settee?

4. The way "common" sometimes means "vulgar". That particular usage, with all its Nicky Haslam snobbery, is bizarre.

5. How weird you all are about flags. So adorning your armchair in Cath Kidston Union Jack cushions is OK but hanging St George's Cross flags out of your window is not. Is that right?


6. Pub closing times. 11pm is just too early to go home. In the summer, it's still bright outside at 11pm. In Spain, they haven't even finished their dinner at 11pm.

7. Pubs being open on Christmas Day. CHRISTMAS DAY! So you close all the pubs at 11pm on Saturday nights but then you open the pubs on the laziest, cosiest day of the year. Just baffling.


8. Your weird celebrities. Like Cliff Richard, the third-top-selling singles artist of all time in Britain, beaten only by the Beatles and Elvis Presley. So strange. And Katie Hopkins. Just, simply, why?

9. Your weird TV shows. Like Strictly Come Dancing, Jonathan Creek, and basically everything on Channel 5.

10. The way you all say "sorry" when you don't really mean it.

11. Saying anything when you don't really mean it. "Thanks." "It's fine." "How lovely." Really?

12. Baronets. We can just about figure out knights and dames but baronets… Sorry, you've lost us.

13. The popularity of "Keep Calm" merchandise. That joke is over, so over, and still you sell us that tat in twee gift shops.

14. Your pub snacks. Like pickled eggs. And pork scratchings. Even the name "pork scratchings" doesn't make sense.

15. The queues in your post offices and banks. They're always so long. We've heard y'all like queuing, but seriously.

16. The way "public school" means "private school".

17. The whole public school thing, actually. Eton College, for example, has produced so, so many of your prominent politicians (William Gladstone, David Cameron, Boris Johnson) and your prominent sex symbols (Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne, Prince Harry). That can't be fair and good, can it?


18. The strange love-hate thing you've got going on with France. You act like you hate France, but then you buy your lunch at Paul and fantasise about spending a year in Provence.

19. Alton Towers. It's basically a rainy Disneyland, right?

20. Butlins. It's basically a rainy Kellerman's, right?

21. The way you mix up names for meals. "Lunch" is "dinner" and "dinner" is "tea". And then there's "supper". What even is "supper"? And why is "dessert" is called "pudding"?

22. The great North-South divide. As far as non-British people can ascertain, there's a complicated mistrust that stems from a disagreement over how people pronounce the word "bath" and how much a pint costs.

23. Your condiments. No mayonnaise. So much vinegar. And what is with this Branston Pickle?

24. The words "cor" and "blimey".

24. The way house prices are included in newspaper reports about murders.

25. The efficiency, efficacy, egalitarianism, and, above all, FREENESS, of the NHS. Britain, it is amazing. And baffling. But bravo.

26. Yorkshire puddings. Firstly, they're not really puddings, are they? Secondly, they proliferate in pubs and homes everywhere, not just in Yorkshire. Thirdly, they're not even that nice. British people act like Yorkshire puddings are edible sublimity; the rest of the world sees them for what they are: slightly tasteless, puffed-up batter.

27. The pronunciation of Holborn (Hoe-born or Hole-born?), Marylebone (just so tricky), and Loughborough (why isn't it just LOCK-burra?).

28. How you have to be some sort of train website sleuth if you want to buy a reasonably priced train ticket. To a foreigner, it seems logical that if you want to travel with a certain train company, you should visit its website. But that's not right, is it?

29. And then there is this...

Jason Bell / Clarence House

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