Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Confessions of a stereotypical Brit

by : 
JoR

Although I'm not a particularly radical person, I've always considered myself an individual. Since moving abroad, however, I've been faced with lots of British stereotypes, and I've been surprised at how many I conform to! 

I have a southern English accent.
Many people assume that all Brits speak "the Queen's English". Having grown up near south London, with parents who always nagged me to speak "properly", I have the accent that most people expect, which is such a shame! There are so many wonderful accents and dialects in Britain, which I find much more interesting than my own.

I am too polite.
I constantly say phrases such as, "I was wondering...", "Would you mind...", "If it's no trouble..." and "Perhaps this might be better...", which are often unnecessary. It's not that people from other nationalities are rude, but in Britain it does seem to be true that we don't speak very directly, and are worried about offending people.

I queue.
This is related to the politeness - I'd be mortified if I offended someone by taking their place, especially if they didn't want to be rude and tell me so!

I'm a royalist.
I love the Royal family, and think they're a valuable part of my culture. It's something quintessentially British and vital to our tourism, so many people don't realise what a controversial topic it has become in the UK.

I talk about the weather.
I'm not great at small talk, so weather is a fail-safe topic I often fall back on. I suppose it's something I know is a part of everyone's life, no matter who I'm talking to, so we'll usually have something to say.

And (of course) I drink tea with milk and sugar.
Although I don't have "high tea" on a daily basis, being abroad has made me appreciate the healing and comforting properties of a sweet mug of Twinings, Tetley's, or Yorkshire Gold.

It seems that, despite the many things that make me distinct from the rest of Britain, stereotyping can sometimes be right! These typical national images will never apply to the whole country, and there are many stereotypes which don't apply to me at all: I don't have bad teeth; I've never worn a bowler hat; I don't have Sunday roasts every week. Living abroad has, however, highlighted that stereotypes exist for a reason, and I do have some things in common with many people from my country.

Discussion

What stereotypes do you have of Britain? Do you think it's useful to have stereotypes of other nationalities?