Editor’s note: The following essay was originally entitled “All I want to be is British” but it reveals humourous insights into how others see us, the English.
Anyone who knows me, and some people do know me, knows I really want to be British. Nay, that I, in fact, SHOULD’VE been British but by some fluke or accidental “heaven to earth” tube slide mix up – I ended up in the sticks of Utah (I’ve always had the image in my head of little babies sliding down “heavenly” tubes to earth – I don’t know why). Sigh. It’s okay – there are probably a lot of ethereal tubes leading from heaven to every imaginable place in the world, and I’m sure a little mix up happens once in a while. Whatever happened, somewhere deep in my heart, I feel that Britishness, or Englishness rather, would suit me just fine!
- The British are dryly hilarious. I love British humor and ever since I can recall, my particular form of humor (although dashed with some American sarcasm and slap-stick guffaws) is really very British. Witty, but not obtrusively so. Clever most certainly! It’s a smart humor that most Americans can’t fully appreciate. And of course – we must make our humor “bigger and better” which is what we do with everything – but really – is bigger (louder, annoying, pushy) better? No Texas. It isn’t!
- The British Don’t Touch Each Other. I’ve never been a touchy or particularly affectionate individual. In High School – when girls all hugged each other and held hands (was that just my High School? Hmmm), I wanted nothing to do with it. I didn’t really want anything to do with hugging all over the boys either. As far as true affections go – I’m quite reserved and distant. It’s not a “defense mechanism” or anything of the sort – it’s just how I am. And it’s just how the British are too.
- The British are Proper and Polite. I also feel I’m quite proper when the situation calls for such propriety, as well as rather polite. Sure, I have my little vices here and there – I think poop is funny – but all in all, I like the proper way of things such as “loading the dishwasher properly” or “politely clapping after a horrible performance or play.” They also are concerned that you “mind your head” and likewise “mind the gap” so’s not to injure yourselves while using their conveniant public transportation systems.
What I like About Britishness/Englishness
- Spelling. Favourites. Shoppe. Colours. Yes yes. I think it adds a little something – er – other than the obvious
- Street Names. None of this Jefferson Avenue or Bart Blvd nonsense. Or even worse, 13th East and 4th South. No no. The have names like “Little Winging” or “NewCastle Up-On-Tyne” or “Kensington and High Street” or “Notting Hill.” I also enjoy the “Shires” (said “sure.” It’s not Lord of the Rings) – Lancashire, Devonshire, etc.
- They Name Their Houses. This is perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the English tradition; their modest homes with over growing gardens and fences to keep out the rabbits. I could live in “Rose Cottage” or “Meadow Glen” or “Hamstead Heath.” Lovely.
- Sweet Shoppes. Enough Said. Oh! Sherbet Lemons. Now, enough said.
- Vernacular: Bubble and Squeak, Sausage and Mash, knickers and trousers, trainers, and jumpers. I also like saying Vitamins and Aluminium with a British accent…which brings me too
- The British Accent. An Englishman could say “there’s a hole in my sock” and it would sound smart – Posh London style anyway. It’s an entirely amiable way of speaking and only adds to the overall pleasure being of the British. Don’t mind me a right “Ello Gov’na!” either!
- The History. Roman Baths. Royal Heritage. They’ve been around the political block a number of times. The House of Lords and the House of Commons sounds much better than “The House of Representatives” and “Congress.” They’ve got cemeteries with gravestones dating back centuries. They’ve got Westminster, Tower of London, London Bridge, Big Ben and Parliament! What haven’t they got??? I wish I could say McDonalds and Starbucks but dammit – they DO have those. Sigh. Stupid American Big Business.
- The English Countryside. Oh yes, absolutely ideal. Literary even.
- Oxford, Cambridge, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bath, the Cliff’s of Dover, Brighton, LONDON, Canterbury, Manchester, Wales!
- Pasties! Mmmm, pasties. No you sicky’s – not in the “barely covering nipple” kind either. Psh. Pull yourselves together.
- Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Jane Austin, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkein, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Bronte’s, William Shakespeare, Milton, JK Rowling “gasp” I better stop.
- Tea. Duh. Translates into “tea breaks.”
- The Tube
- 2 hr train ride to France
- REAL Chocolate – none of this Hershey’s nonsense
- Nannys – Mary Poppins!
- Boarding Schools – (better educational system in general)
- Socialized Health Care
THUS! You can see what I mean don’t you? There are so many reasons why 1 – I should rightly be English and 2. Why anyone in their right mind can see WHY I have this desire. I went to London for 6 weeks on a Study Abroad through the University of Utah. 6 weeks was not enough – it was a mockery – but I did solidify my desire to join the ranks of Britishdom for a season, or two. When I go back, I’m going back to stay. God Save the Queen!
Andrea Cox is a 24 year old graduate of English Teaching and French from the University of Utah. Currently residing in Provo, Utah where she works for the Independent Study Program at Brigham Young University as well as researching and writing for an anti-pornography company based in Orem, Utah called CP80.org. Andrea plans on getting her Masters Degree in British Literature at BYU, emphasis is the rise of feminist literature in Great Britain, and eventually getting a Ph.d at a University in England somewhere, anywhere, they will accept her.