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How to be a Brit

How to be a Brit

Titel: How to be a Brit
Autoren: George Mikes
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any occasion.
    If you do not say anything
else for the rest of your life, just repeat this conversation, you still have a
fair chance of passing as a remarkably witty man of sharp intellect, keen
observation and extremely pleasant manners.
    English society is a class
society, strictly organized almost on corporative lines. If you doubt this,
listen to the weather forecasts. There is always a different weather forecast
for farmers. You often hear statements like this on the radio:
    ‘To-morrow it will be cold,
cloudy and foggy; long periods of rain will be interrupted by short periods of
    And then:
    ‘Weather forecast for
farmers. It will be fair and warm, many hours of sunshine.’
    You must not forget that
the farmers do grand work of national importance and deserve better weather.
    It happened on innumerable
occasions that nice, warm weather had been forecast and rain and snow fell all
day long, or vice versa. Some people jumped rashly to the conclusion
that something must be wrong with the weather forecasts. They are mistaken and
should be more careful with their allegations.
    I have read an article in
one of the Sunday papers and now I can tell you what the situation really is.
All troubles are caused by anti-cyclones. (I don’t quite know what
anti-cyclones are, but this is not important; I hate cyclones and am very anti-cyclone
myself.) The two naughtiest anti-cyclones are the Azores and the Polar
    The British meteorologists
forecast the right weather — as it really should be — and then
these impertinent little anti-cyclones interfere and mess up everything.
    That again proves that if
the British kept to themselves and did not mix with foreign things like Polar
and Azores anti-cyclones they would be much better off.

    Foreigners have souls; the English
    On the Continent you find
any amount of people who sigh deeply for no conspicuous reason, yearn, suffer
and look in the air extremely sadly. This is soul.
    The worst kind of soul is
the great Slav soul. People who suffer from it are usually very deep thinkers.
They may say things like this: ‘Sometimes I am so merry and sometimes I am so
sad. Can you explain why?’ (You cannot, do not try.) Or they may say: ‘I am so
mysterious.... I sometimes wish I were somewhere else than where I am.’ (Do not
say: ‘I wish you were.’) Or ‘When I am alone in a forest at night-time and jump
from one tree to another, I often think that life is so strange.’
    All this is very deep: and
just soul, nothing else. The English have no soul; they have the understatement
    If a continental youth
wants to declare his love to a girl, he kneels down, tells her that she is the
sweetest, the most charming and ravishing person in the world, that she has something in her, something peculiar and individual which only a few hundred thousand other
women have and that he would be unable to live one more minute without her.
Often, to give a little more emphasis to the statement, he shoots himself on
the spot. This is a normal, week-day declaration of love in the more
temperamental continental countries. In England the boy pats his adored one on
the back and says softly: ‘I don’t object to you, you know.’ If he is quite mad
with passion, he may add: ‘I rather fancy you, in fact.’

    If he wants to marry a
girl, he says:
    ‘I say... would you?...’
    If he wants to make an
indecent proposal:
    ‘I say... what about..
    Overstatement, too, plays a
considerable part in English social life. This takes mostly the form of someone
remarking: ‘I say…’ and then keeping silent for three days on end.

    The trouble with tea is that
originally it was quite a good drink.
    So a group of the most
eminent British scientists put their heads together, and made complicated
biological experiments to find a way of spoiling it.
    To the eternal glory of
British science their labour bore fruit. They suggested that if you do not
drink it clear, or with lemon or rum and sugar, but pour a few drops of cold
milk into it, and no sugar at all, the desired object is achieved. Once this
refreshing, aromatic, oriental beverage was successfully transformed into
colourless and tasteless gargling-water, it suddenly became the national drink
of Great Britain and Ireland — still retaining, indeed usurping, the
high-sounding title of tea.
    There are some occasions
when you must not refuse a cup of tea,
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