What does this say about the British?
We are an island nation and we all have to share a shrinking space. How do we all get on with each other? We don’t say what we mean, we use understatement and we agree even when we don’t. Foreigners often ask: ‘So how do you know what someone means?’ Just look at their face and try to work it out!
Now you know the context – quiz yourself
Welcome to the second part of our quiz. This time we’re going to take you on an adventure – the trip of a lifetime to England! But along the way there’s a test: Could you pass for a Britisher? Put the kettle on for a brew and get ready to strain the brain cells (as well as the Earl Grey)! Pour yourself a cuppa and decide which answer is correct for a true Brit.
What is the most appropriate thing to say in each of these situations?
1) You’re on the ferry to Dover. It’s a lovely warm sunny day. Your fellow passenger say: ‘Cold, isn’t it.’ You say:
- a) At least it isn’t raining.
- b) Yes, it is a bit cold.
- c) Really? Do you think so? I think it’s warm.
2) While getting off the ferry, you fall into the English Channel and start drowning. What do you call out to a fellow passenger?
- a) Help! I’m drowning!
- b) Excuse me, I’m terribly sorry to bother you but could you possibly help me please?
- c) Excuse me, I’m terribly sorry to bother you but could you possibly help me please? If it’s no trouble of course!
3) You survived the drowning and are understandably hungry! In a restaurant, you find the waiter has left you a dirty plate. Your partner indignantly points this out to you. You reply:
- a) Ssssh. Keep it down. They’ll hear.
- b) I’m sure they’re doing their best dear.
- c) I’ll call the waiter and tell him about it.
4) On reaching London, you find yourself in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II. How should you address her?
- a) Your Majesty
- b) Ma’am
- c) Mrs Windsor
5) On the train out of London, a fellow passenger in your compartment lights up.
- a) You say: ‘Excuse me, smoking is not allowed.’
- b) You say: ‘Would you mind not smoking please?’ And you point to the no smoking sign.
- c) You say: ‘Hummph …Uh hmmm…,’ and such like, at fairly regular intervals. At the same time, you squirm around in your seat a bit, whistle delicately through your teeth and glance oh so surreptitiously at the no smoking sign.
6) You decide it’s time to make some friends. You go down the local pub, ‘the Fox and Badger’, and sit on a bar stall. You decide to open a conversation with someone waiting to be served. You say:
- a) Hello. My name’s Ben.
- b) I wouldn’t go for that pint of Marsden ale. It’s not very good tonight.
- c) This pub’s great, isn’t it!
7) You end up talking to a gentleman who is a member of the so called ‘upper class’. You need to interrupt your conversation with him to answer a call of nature. You ask him:
- a) Where’s the toilet?
- b) Where’s the bathroom?
- c) Where’s the bog?
8) You’re doing very well in England! You get a home and a job. Then one day you wake up to find your life savings stolen. On arriving at work, a colleague asks: ‘How are you?’ You reply:
- a) Very well thank you, and you?
- b) This is not a good day for me.
- c) Don’t ask.
How many points have you scored?
Now ‘squeeze the pot’ (Pour yourself some more tea: there’s still some left) and add up your points.
1 a) 2 points b) 2 points c) 0 points. (You always agree about the weather!)
2 a) 0 points b) 1 point c) 2 points
3 a) 2 points b) 2 points c) 0 points
4 a) 2 points b) -1 point c) -1 point
5 a) 0 points b) 1 point c) 2 points
6 a) 0 points (never say your name first) b) 2 points c) 0 points (Britishers use understatements)
7) a) 0 points b) 2 points c) -1 point (The upper class English never use slang)
8 a) 2 points b) 0 points c) 1 point
How British are you?
12 – 16 points: Jolly good show! You are a keen observer of the British and could probably pass for one.
6 – 11 points: Not bad but not terribly good either! Why not take a holiday in England and ‘beef up’ a bit.
0 – 5 points: What a stinking pile of rot! You have a lot to learn about being British J