16 things about the British that baffle the rest of the world

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The British are an eccentric lot, occasionally bordering on downright barmy. From chasing cheese down country hills to snorkelling bogs to catch some thrills, the British are as baffling as they are charming. Here are some of our most confounding traits, according to Reddit and the A&B audience on social media.

1. Why our quaint little towns have a homicide rate comparable to Honduras…

…according to our murder mysteries that is. If Midsomer Murders is to be believed, there’s someone being knocked off every other week in genteel country towns out the way. As one American put it, “Midsomer is the most dangerous place on earth, literally worse than Mexican cartel towns.”

2. How we can pinpoint someone’s exact point of origin based on their accent

This from a Canadian: “It both amazes and baffles me how you can listen to someone’s accent and know what part of the country they’re from: ‘Oh, you’re from East London, 51 Gosterwood street and, if I’m not mistaken, Apartment B?’”

3. Why we take euphemism to the absolute extreme

One American user points out: “Three soldiers in a trench with a whole enemy division advancing towards them and it’s ‘We’re in a bit of a pickle.’ In the Korean War, British people actually died because of not being frank on the radio about the trouble they were in.”

4. Barrister wigs


5. How we’re really very serious about tea

“Tea culture. Now I’m Asian American and happen to enjoy tea myself, but when I visited Cambridge, I saw a guy who looked around his mid-twenties drinking tea off a Victorian teapot with the flower design and everything. I’m talking about those teapots that appear antiquated and seem like they’re over a hundred years old. You don’t even see that kind of legitimate appreciation in ASIA for crying out loud,” says one confounded Redditor.

6. Carpet in bathrooms

Okay, we have no defense for this one.

7. Why we have TWO SEPARATE TAPS for hot and cold water

There was practically a riot about the British plumbing system and how it forces foreigners to choose between SCALDING and FREEZING their hands when on our shores. Here’s a Brit in a hoodie explaining why.

8. Our love of queuing

Here’s an old joke from one user that aptly illustrates this point:

One day I was walking through the city streets, when I happened upon a line. I asked what the line was for, and nobody knew, so naturally I stood in it, just in case. I waited for hours but the line didn’t move, so I excused myself and went to the front of the line to see what the matter was. I found that, at the front of the line, there was an elderly gentleman leaning against a wall.

I asked him, “Comrade, what is this line for?”

He answered, “I stopped here to lean against the wall and rest, and these people started lining up behind me.”

I asked him, “Then, comrade, why don’t you simply leave?”

He scoffed. “What, and lose my place in line?”

9. Why we apologise so much

Even when we’re rude, we start and end with ‘Sorry.’

10. Why we’re so wedded to bad weather

An Australian puts this most succinctly: “Who the fuck looks at the UK, looks at Australia, and sends the convicts to Australia.”

11. The uncharacteristic affection in our text messages

Literary Agent Carrie Plitt explains: “The first text message I received from a British person did not disappoint: ‘Want to pop round mine for tea today? x’, offered my new course-mate Alice. It was delightfully British. Not only was it an invitation for tea, but how quaint to be asked to ‘pop’ over, like a Victorian jack-in-the-box. One thing did confuse me, though, and that was the lone lowercase x lingering at the end of her message. Nothing I had read prepared me for this little letter. Was it a negation of her statement? A warning about adult content? An unknown variable? I assumed it was a typo. But as these little xs began to populate most of the text messages or emails I received from my British friends, I had to ask. ‘It’s a kiss of course’ said Alice, by now my self-appointed cultural guide. ‘I was beginning to worry that you never kissed me back.’”

12. “Yeah, I got a question, what the fuck is the flavour oF Irn Bru?”

Fair question.

13. Liverpudlians

“Scousers. Why do they dress like Russians and what language do they speak?” ponders one Redditor.

14. Why ‘bollocks’ is bad but ‘dog’s bollocks’ is good

We love dogs, okay?

15. Our obsession with class

Cockney, Mockney, Posh Boy and Toff. Chav, Common, Essex Girl and Snob. There’s no nation quite as preoccupied with class as the Brits. It goes some way in explaining why it’s apparently acceptable to print topless images of regular-stock women in our papers but not of a Duchess.

16. Finally, what the hell Britain actually is

Fair Use

Very British Problems by Rob Temple is a hilarious insight into the British psyche.

Lead image: The National Trust

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