British put downs
A recent reader of my Desperate English Housewife in Washington Facebook page asked me ‘Why do the Brits either hate Americans or continually make fun of them? Is that just part of their “charm”?’
I replied: ‘Good question. We tend to make fun of those who are in a high position. In shows such as X Factor we always champion the underdog and the winner never does well, despite getting all the votes in the first place. What an odd bunch we are!’
We Brits like a bit of self-deprecation – it’s our dry wit! 😉 But we also enjoy putting down others. For example: “Colin Firth got nominated for an Oscar? That’s wonderful. But, of course, he’ll lose.”
I stole this bit from BBC America’s bit about Brits to help you understand our British need to halt any show or outpouring of pride (we’re not comfortable with that, most of the time).
Enjoying the Misfortune of Others
Nothing brightens a Brit’s day like discovering someone we didn’t particularly like lost their job or misspelled a status update. I get a smugness buzz every time I clock an acquaintance’s incorrect apostrophe usage. Americans, meanwhile, seem to spend less time thinking about other people, in a good way.
Doing Ourselves Down
As previously mentioned, Brits revel in the downfall of others. But we don’t want to come off as mean so we also make a point of knocking our own achievements. This makes us miserable. On the plus side, there’s the option of an “I never boasted about my Nobel prize on Facebook” gravestone inscription. (Note: a posthumous brag is borderline acceptable.)
We are strange beasts!
Criss-cross apple sauce
In school in the USA, Harry is told to sit this way: ‘criss-cross apple sauce’. I’d never heard that before I came here.
Today he asked me what we call it in England, and I replied: ‘Sit up straight with your legs crossed.’
He nodded solemnly, maybe understanding the difference between how he will be taught in England when he returns and how he is being taught to do things here.
Using the British accent
I had a gentle warning from a blog reader about using the life-saver that is the British accent in the USA…
‘Your story about using your accent to get out of a speeding ticket cracked me up. I have a British friend here who has had that happen at least 3 times. The British accent is like a super power here — it makes us Americans all delighted and obliging and submissive, so please use it wisely!’
Terribly well heard, and point taken, what, what, jolly ho! 😉
The joking goes both ways, all in good spirit. Since our last trip to Britain, my husband asks our friends this question: ” Why is Britain the most metric country in the world?” Answer: “Because there are only two millimeters between cars!” I thought I drove very well when my husband only covered his eyes once during the trip.
When in Britain, people have been very nice to us. Of course it helps if we are willing to start the conversation. The village store is a great place to start, and we’ve been invited to tea from there.
Love it! And lovely to hear 🙂
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I’m from the midwest and in my 50s. When I was young we called that style of sitting, “Indian style.” I’m sure it’s been changed.
Yeah, I saw that when I was researching it.That’s no longer PC!
Same on the west coast in the 60’s. Never heard criss cross applesauce till my son was in first grade 1993.
Yep, we called it that when I began preschool in the late ’70s, continuing through school until around…the late ’80s, I suppose? It’s about then that PC terms replaced terms deemed derogatory. Now I’d simply say “sit cross-legged”…never really heard “criss-cross applesauce”!
Lovely blog you have here! Found it via Smitten with Britain.
Thanks! Enjoy 🙂