The Odd Rules of Being British

You’re From London, Right?

It appears to be an inescapable fact, when words come out of my mouth in America they make me sound English. Actually people here assume that I am from London. I know this to be true because the first questions I am often asked by locals here are;

“love the accent, you’re from London, right?”
“we love the Royal family, do you see them in London?”
“you sound like the people on that TV show Downton Abbey, you know, set in old London” (Downton Abbey isn’t actually set in London, but it is set near where I come from in North Yorkshire. But I still do not think I sound like them).

Actually most people who are from the UK would hear my voice and conclude that I am not from London, and probably not from anywhere south of Birmingham for that matter. Explaining this to the people of the US however, is a more difficult task. Some people will look at me confused, while others will completely ignore my assertion and continue to ask me about London house prices, the cost of living in the capital or the dangers of London rioters. While people in America may have heard of Manchester or Liverpool, I can only assume many believe that they must merely be satellites of London.

The UK is Small

So why do people think I live so close to London? Well I have come to the conclusion that it is because I do. In the same time it might take me to drive from the north of England to London, I would just be able to get across the State of Washington. In fact I could get a train and be in London from York in 2 hours. People over here will drive for that amount of time for a good taco. Our island is small.

For that matter I believe that people in the US can probably drive anywhere, for anything, for no reason because they do not need directions. If somebody needs to go to San Francisco from Lynden then just go south on the I-5 for 900 miles and they will be there before they know it. However, as Sacha always tells me, in the UK we will argue for hours about shaving 2 minutes off a one hour journey. She will despairingly witness me and my dad arguing whether it is faster to go via a motorway or via shortcuts over country roads.

Also Sacha tells me that UK people always give direction starting from “the roundabout.” Wether it is a journey to the dentist or a visit to the next city, the directions always start with, “you go to the roundabout and turn…”

It is simply assumed that of the many thousands of roundabouts in the UK you will drive to the correct one and start your journey from there. The US prevent this problem by not having many roundabouts. In my opinion this is something we should consider in the UK.

The Odd Rules of being British

So  the USA is bigger than the UK and it has 50 states with numerous different climates and geographies. There are deserts, forests, mountains, canyons, lakes, snow and islands. I suspect it is because the US is so large that people here love to raise their national flag and sing their anthem to show that they are united.

In comparison the people in the UK are very peculiar about their identities. An extrovert showing of national fervour is often looked upon as being extravert to the point of embarrassment. British people will also seemingly show rivalry to anyone who will listen. Myself being from North Yorkshire, this is how it might work for myself;

  • I am from the Yorkshire, so I shouldn’t like Lancashire, our neighbouring county. The colour of our symbolic roses are somehow offensive to each other.
  • However Yorkshire and Lancaster are northern counties, and so we northerners are united in our distain of southerners for being “soft,” and because they probably think we are backwards and brusk.
  • However us Northerners and Southerners both shouldn’t like the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish, because they really don’t like us.
  • Our four countries form the UK and the UK does not want to be part of Europe because we do not want their colourful money, tasty cuisines and superior cultural tastes.
  • And finally, on rare occasions, us Europeans look at those Americans patriotically chanting U S A, U S A. So we must sing football chants at them back….just because.

The funny thing is, many people from the UK, or Europe will not miss an opportunity to mention how crazy those Americans are. I think shall reserve my judgement, my own back yard may not look so sane at the moment.


That’s my kind of crazy


15 thoughts on “The Odd Rules of Being British

  1. As an Aussie visiting the UK, we did find that people thought that driving for 4 hours in one day was a bit extreme. But here in Australia we will drive from Noosa to Sydney in a day and not even bat an eyelid. It’s all perspective. Thanks for the post. Ken

    • Yes it is always amusing to look at how different people from different countries prioritise themselves….and then call other nations crazy for not being the same. I can imagine a journey like that for many in Australia is just a necessary part of life there.

  2. As an American I can tell you that while we may be considered united, we are not much different in our need to separate ourselves from other states and regions. The Northerners tend to think the Southerners are stupid and slow. The East Coast doesn’t like the West Coast. The whole county thinks that the Midwest is full of corn farmers. (Unless of course you live in the Midwest.) We like to raise our flag high and proclaim our united country. Especially when foreign people and countries are watching, we present a picture of a country undivided. Don’t be fooled. Americans are just as prone to differentiate themselves by what state, region, or even city they live in.

    Though, we will probably always assume you are from London and that you personally know the Queen. (And we do not appreciate the roundabouts either.) 🙂

    • I am sure you are right and am well aware of some peoples local pride, so I know I was oversimplifying by far, but the flow of my post and my joke might have been lost a little if I qualified my points, as you have so nicely done.

      Thanks for the comment though, it shows me even more how we all generalise about each other, and how proud of our regional localities we all tend to be.

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